US-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid teared up while accepting Variety magazine’s Power of Women honor over the weekend.
The 23-year-old supermodel, who is regularly spotted on catwalks around the world, was recognized for her work as a UNICEF ambassador.
At Variety‘s Power of Women event in New York, Hadid spoke alongside fellow honorees Bette Midler, Taraji P. Henson, Kacey Musgraves and Christiane Amanpour about her 2018 visit to Bangladesh and the power of social media.
The model told the audience, including her sister Bella, about her visit to a refugee camp hosting Rohingya refugees, the majority-Muslim ethnic group fleeing Myanmar, in August.
“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. “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.”
At the end of the trip I went home, and they were still there,” Hadid said, holding back tears.
“Yes, we can donate. Yes, we can help them, and every donation really genuinely does save lives and help people. I saw it,” she added. “But that’s not what they wanted us to tell the world. They are human beings like all of us. What they would do for a citizenship, for an identity, to be able to scroll and type and have a voice in that sense.”
The model, who is regularly posts on social media and has even taken online trolls to task in the past, stressed the importance of the “gift of identity.”
“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,” she said.
“I feel resentment towards social media at times, but as I documented my trip with UNICEF, I understood the true value — someone is listening. Be a voice for someone, support someone, encourage someone, tell someone how they inspire you. 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.”
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