Earlier this week, in an interview with Variety in honor of her designation as one of the magazine’s Power of Women NY honorees, Gigi Hadid discussed the stresses that come with her huge social media following. But on Friday, in her address at the official Power of Women event in Manhattan, she turned her focus instead to the power that social media has in amplifying previously unheard voices and bringing people together.
In her speech, the supermodel spoke about her recent trip with UNICEF to Bangladesh, where she met with women and girls in a Rohingya refugee camp, and which she documented extensively on Instagram and Twitter. “Even with their lives in limbo, these women and girls had such desire to do more, to be more, and to get educated to better their lives,” she said, according to Variety. “When we asked them how UNICEF could help in different ways, and most importantly, what they wanted us to tell the world about them, what it really boiled down to was that they want an identity.”
Holding back tears, she continued, “We can get so stuck in our own heads, and our own worlds can feel very overwhelming at times, but most of us have the true gift of identity, and the power to express ourselves, the power to speak out for those who cannot for themselves, and the power to uplift one another.”
Though she noted that she sometimes feels “resentment” toward social media, Hadid said that documenting her trip to Bangladesh helped her realize the “true value” of the platforms. “Be a voice for someone, support someone, encourage someone, tell someone how they inspire you,” she said. “We cannot let the negative comments, the bad energy, and false assumptions of us keep us from doing the good we know we can do with our platforms.”
Hadid, who received the honor alongside Bette Midler, Taraji P. Henson, Kacey Musgraves, and Christiane Amanpour, also offered her praise and gratitude to the women in her life, including her mother, grandmother, three sisters, and “chosen sisters.” “Thank you for your love and support everyday of my life,” she said, then, upon noticing that Bella Hadid was getting emotional at her older sister’s speech, she called out, “Bella, don’t cry! Don’t look at me!” After turning away from her sister and composing herself, she added: “You are talented, you are hardworking, you are creative, kind, loyal, honest, and you are unapologetically yourselves, and you all inspire me in your own ways.”