Why Muslim supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid are powerful weapons against Trump
I keep reading about the Hadid sisters. I’ve only just got up to speed with the Kardashians – is this another set of siblings I need to care about?
Josie, by email
“Need” to care about? Possessing an in-depth knowledge of two models is not the law yet, Josie, as far as I know. But in order to be up to speed on the zeitgeist, you absolutely need to know about them. Thankfully, I am here to guide you, sherpa-like, through the dark forest of fashion facts and gossip.Trump allies say emails unlawfully gained
The short summary is that Gigi and her younger sister, Bella, are enormous supermodels, the “enormous” referring to the size of their careers as opposed to the size of them, obviously. Obviously.
Gigi came along first, in both life and modelling, followed shortly thereafter by Bella, and while Gigi has the obvious mainstream appeal, Bella is considered the slightly cooler one, which, in modelling terms, means she is totally gorgeous but in a slightly more interesting way than her sister (don’t you hate it when your perfect looks aren’t quite interesting enough?).
The other thing to know about the Hadids is that they have a tendency to date pop stars – Gigi lives with Zayn Malik and Bella dated The Weeknd, and despite the former owing his career to Simon Cowell and the latter’s horrendous abuse of the concept of spelling, these are both relationships that have worked in the models’ favour. They have helped them to make that ever-so-essential crossover from the lucrative but relatively niche world of fashion to the enormously lucrative and not niche at all world of celebrity. Phew, right?Bethlehem peace light arrives in Germany
This is the basic summation. What is less noted is that the Hadids are distinctly similar to the Kardashians, not just because they are sisters, but because they had an absurdly privileged childhood in Los Angeles. It’s as if, between the rise of Kendall Kardashian and the Hadids, the fashion world is currently and a little belatedly trying to recreate Clueless and Beverly Hills 90210 on the runways.
What is even less noted is that the Hadids are Muslim and were raised observant by their immigrant father. Mohamed Hadid was born in Nazareth and lived in Syria and Lebanon, moving to the US when he was 14. “He was always religious and he always prayed with us. I am proud to be a Muslim,” Bella said in a recent interview, and she has been very open about her opposition to Trump’s travel ban.
All of this makes the recent furore over the US Vogue cover interview with Gigi and Malik even more hilarious than it already is. Vogue excitedly claimed that Gigi and Malik are “gender fluid” because they, er, occasionally wear one another’s Gucci and Anna Sui clothes. Gender fluid? To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, you keep using that term Vogue. I do not think it means what you think it means.Powerful winds raise California fire risk
But what makes this story even more hilarious is that while Vogue was trying so hard to make Malik and Gigi sound exotic by claiming they are “gender fluid” it could instead have focused on reality and pointed out the remarkable fact that the most famous celebrity boyfriend and girlfriend in the US now are both Muslim. I honestly can’t remember another Muslim pin-up couple in America, ever, and for them to be so popular now of all times in US history, well, it is both remarkable and in some ways does not feel like a coincidence. Zayn in particular has put up with an enormous amount of Islamophobic abuse – let’s just call it racism and call the whole thing off – from everyone from internet trolls to Bill Maher (two equally predictable sources of anti-Muslim abuse). And yet, the teenage girls don’t care. Maybe this is a testament to how strong teenage hormones are, or maybe it’s a bit of a political statement from some of them. But it can only be a good thing for a new generation in the US to grow up seeing names like “Hadid” and “Malik” and for their first thought to be a heart emoji and not “Ugh, terrorist”.
It may well be that two of the most powerful weapons against Islamophobia in the US and President Trump’s general stupidity are a pair of young, ridiculously wealthy Muslim supermodels. I know some people will mock that, but bear in mind that a reality TV star and national joke can become president and mock no more, people. Mock no more.
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Are shorts acceptable in the office?
Jon, by email
Depends on the shorts, Jon, and on the office. Ratty denim shorts? No. Nice tailored shorts in stiff cotton in a smart colour (sea green, say, or pale pink)? Absolutely, knock yourself out.Exiled king's remains reburied in Italy
But as I say, this does depend on your workplace. I have never in my life had a grown-up job, by which I mean one that requires me to wear a suit. I don’t want to ruin the magic, but a large part of my journalistic output was shaped and honed while wearing pyjamas at 4pm in my kitchen, eating peanut butter out of a jar with a spoon. So I guess what I’m saying is, I have not a clue what is acceptable in a normal office. But sure, wear shorts, Jon! And if it all goes wrong, I have an extra chair in my kitchen (bring your own peanut butter).