Bella Hadid shared a vulnerable reminder that “social media is not real”

Even supermodels struggle with self worth and mental illness.

Bella Hadid/Instagram
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The Hadid sisters splashed onto the fashion scene roughly a decade ago, and over the years have helped usher in a new generation of the 90s supermodel craze. They reinvigorated the phenomenon of supermodels as household names, and infused their own flair into being pop culture commodities. Since their rise to fame, there seem to be few places in fashion where their now iconic visages and ideal high fashion physiques aren’t on parade. And for many regular women, before this felt normal, it felt like a curse. It is very hard to go about your business when your brain is constantly being assaulted by images and fanaticism of women who are so aesthetically perfect by societal standards, it would seem as if they were created, not born. But now Bella Hadid is offering a different side of herself — a very vulnerable one. In a candid Instagram post, she joined the ranks of celebrity women who are speaking out against the toxicity of social media and its adverse effects on mental health.

It is no secret that the fashion industry is plagued by horrific practices that make it a nightmare for young models to navigate. There are terrible standards around size; an extreme lack of diversity; rampant sexual misconduct and exploitation; the encouragement of drug use and eating disorders to stay thin. The list goes on. Our society is becoming more aware of, and (very) slowly correcting some of these high fashion evils. And while those ills are industry specific, the images that result ripple through society and have consequences. On top of that, it would appear there is one facet of media that affects models and celebrities just as much as everyone else: social media. The discussion of the negative ramifications of social media has gone on for a long time, mostly to no avail — but there is a comfort in knowing that even the most famous, seemingly untouchable people also experience its adverse effects on mental health. Hopefully, that will help galvanize the masses to demand real change from the companies spurring it all on like Instagram (owned by Facebook) and TikTok.

Hadid’s post begins by celebrating Willow Smith’s recent comments in a video. The youngest of the Smith family has a wisdom and cool about her that is far beyond her years. She narrates in the video, “That feeling of thinking that you’re good enough or being insecure about your art- is natural- but at the same time, I feel like it’s taught. All humans are different, every single human has something so special and unique to offer. And people forget that everyone is basically feeling the same way: lost, confused, not really sure why they’re here. That anxiety, like, everyone is feeling that—and trying to cover it up in some way. We’re gonna come together in our flaws. In our insecurities, in our joy, in our happiness, and accept it all as beautiful and natural.”

Hadid continues her post with a series of photos of herself crying, without makeup. She accompanies the images with the comment, “This is pretty much my everyday, every night. For a few years now.” She goes on, “Social media is not real. For anyone struggling, please remember that. Sometimes all you’ve gotta hear is that you’re not alone. So from me to you, you’re not alone. I love you, I see you, and I hear you. Self help and mental illness/chemical imbalance is not linear and it is almost like a flowing rollercoaster of obstacles… it has its ups and downs, and side to sides. But I want you to know, there is always light at the end of the tunnel , and the rollercoaster always comes to a complete stop at some point.”

While little is being done to change the negative ways social media affects our lives, the more we talk about it, the more likely it is that a cultural shift could really happen. Perhaps the apps and their integration into our lives will never go away, but the way we interact with them, and the import we give them is within our power to transcend. Hadid and Smith are in good company of young celebrity women speaking openly and with much bravery and grace about our over-sharing, image-obsessed world. This summer saw athletes Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles both bring mental health to the forefront of the conversation around sports as spectacle. If there’s a social media trend we love to see, it’s more posts like Hadid’s that harness the power of vulnerability to encourage radical love and self acceptance.