Bella Hadid opens up about ‘enormous pressure’ to project ‘sexbot’ image aged just 17

Bella Hadid has opened about the pressure she felt to portray a certain image early on in her career, with the model revealing that she felt she had to embrace a “sexbot” alter ego.

The 24-year-old spoke candidly about the pressures of modelling in a new interview with Vogue for the magazine’s 2021 September cover, which she features on alongside a range of other models.

According to Hadid, when she first entered the industry at 17, she felt as if there were “two Bellas,” one that was trying to figure out who she was, and another who she hoped lived up to the standards in place.

“It’s like there were two Bellas – me, this person in the process of figuring out who she was, and ‘Bella Hadid’ the alter ego, who was, I dunno, a sexbot who goes out every night?” Hadid said.

The supermodel then acknowledged that she has “insane social anxiety” and that partying is “not [her] thing” but that she felt immense pressure to live up to that image and expectation.

However, according to Hadid, as she has gotten older, she has realised that she no longer wants to fit herself into the stereotypes expected of her.

“Partying is not my thing, but I felt enormous pressure to project that image because I assumed that’s all people wanted from me,” Hadid said. “Now I don’t want to live in that box. I definitely feel like I’m allowed to speak.”

This is not the first time Hadid has spoken about her struggles with social anxiety, as she previously opened up about the subject in 2018 while appearing on her mother Yolanda Hadid’s show Making a Model. At the time, Hadid recalled how she would often “black out” when walking on the runway, and would begin “crying and shaking” when she was told she would have to do red carpet interviews, with the model calling the feelings of anxiety “really nerve-racking” and scary.

Hadid also spoke about the importance of prioritising mental health in 2019, when she penned an Instagram post in honour of Mental Health Awareness Day and acknowledged that she still has bad days in addition to good ones, but that she is “proud” of herself for getting to the place she is now.

In the post, the supermodel also urged her followers to remember that social media is not real life, explaining that “the happiness we create online while being sad in real life makes no sense, but sometimes it just seems easier to live within your sadness rather than talk about it”.

Hadid concluded the post reminding her fans that “no one is alone in their mental health journey” and that they are strong, “good enough,” and “deserve to be happy”.

In addition to Hadid, the September cover features seven other models, including Anok Yai, Precious Lee, Kaia Gerber, Yumi Nu, Lourdes “Lola” Leon, Sherry Shi and Ariel Nicholson, the first transgender model to appear on the cover of Vogue.

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