SHE Canada - - SHOPS - By Priya Ku­mar Photos cour­tesy of May­belline Canada

Gigi Ha­did was dis­cov­ered as a tod­dler by GUESS head hon­cho Paul Mar­ciano. The dis­cov­ery led to her first mod­el­ing gig as the face of Baby GUESS. Although barely talk­ing at the time, she made quite the im­pres­sion. Af­ter tak­ing more than a decade-long hia­tus to fo­cus on school and typ­i­cal ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, Ha­did, 20, re­turned to her roots and has be­come a white-hot com­mod­ity in the fash­ion world. Now the face of ven­er­a­ble beauty brand May­belline, the half-pales­tinian, half-dutch beauty shares her prag­matic ap­proach to mak­ing it in one of the most in­hos­pitable in­dus­tries the world has ever known.

“Since I was young, I have been very in­trigued with fash­ion and cos­met­ics print advertising and TV com­mer­cials. I would al­ways sit in my room and try and reen­act the ones I loved,” Gigi Ha­did re­calls about her child­hood. With beachy blond hair, a svelte physique and a best-of-both-worlds blend of Ara­bic and Dutch fea­tures, Ha­did has landed some of the most cov­eted in­ter­na­tional cam­paigns in­clud­ing Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret, Cavalli, Tom Ford and now May­belline. She made her fash­ion week de­but in 2013 for De­sigual and has since hit the run­way for So­nia Rykiel, Marc Ja­cobs and Chanel—a per­sonal ca­reer high­light: “Chanel was prob­a­bly my favourite show be­cause it was so or­ga­nized, pro­fes­sional, and stress-free. I loved it not only be­cause it was a high­light of my life and ca­reer, but mostly I was able to en­joy and take in the beauty of the show be­cause it was so well-run.” Ha­did is now the model she as­pired to be as a lit­tle girl. The daugh­ter of Mo­hamed Ha­did, a real es­tate devel­oper and Yolanda Foster, a for­mer model and star of The Real Housewives of Bev­erly Hills, Ha­did lived a charmed life grow­ing-up in Cal­i­for­nia. Yet, she has never taken any of it for granted and counts her bless­ings ev­ery- day. Her par­ents worked in­cred­i­bly hard to give her and her sib­lings (Bella and An­war) the lifestyle they’ve en­joyed. Mo­hamed was born in Palestine and im­mi­grated in his youth. With­out speak­ing a word of English when he ar­rived in the States, he stud­ied hard and was ac­cepted to the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT) for Ar­chi­tec­ture. Yolanda grew up a Dutch farm girl and made money in her teenage years wash­ing dishes at a lo­cal Chi­nese res­tau­rant. Eileen Ford of Ford Mod­els dis­cov­ered Yolanda when she filled in for a sick friend at a mod­el­ing gig. Although it was her first time in heels, Ford sent her abroad to var­i­ous fash­ion cap­i­tals around the world to work. Suc­cess soon fol­lowed, but never for­sak­ing her roots, she regularly sent funds home to her fam­ily in Hol­land.

It was Ha­did’s par­ents’ life lessons that in­stilled her with a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity. She be­came acutely aware of the im­por­tance of mak­ing a name for her­self, in­de­pen­dent of her fam­ily and chan­nel­ing her suc­cess to help the less for­tu­nate. Per­haps the great­est gift Ha­did’s par­ents gave her was the abil­ity to feel em­pa­thy. With the plat­form Ha­did has—she boasts over two mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers—and the dis­tance her voice will go, she learned early on the value of us­ing one’s fame for do­ing good. Most re­cently Ha­did has lent her pop­u­lar­ity to the af­ter­math of the Nepali earth­quake back in April of this year. In a hum­bling post, she called on her le­gion of fans to do­nate what they could, how­ever mod­est. Iron­i­cally, Ha­did has been ac­cused of us­ing her fam­ily’s fame as a step­ping-stone like her close friend Kendall Jen­ner of Keep­ing Up with the Kar­dashi­ans-fame. In re­sponse to such ac­cu­sa­tions she says that she has the work ethic to back up her nat­u­ral beauty. And grow­ing up the daugh­ter of an es­tab­lished su­per­model hasn’t hurt ei­ther in when it comes to tech­nique. While it takes new mod­els two years to learn the ba­sics of the pro­fes­sion, she learned watch­ing her mother at work.

In­ci­den­tally, mod­el­ing was not al­ways on Gigi Ha­did’s radar. As a pre-teen, Ha­did was a com­pet­i­tive eques­trian. She also went to the Ju­nior Olympic qual­i­fiers for vol­ley­ball. Her mother would not al­low her to sign a mod­el­ing con­tract un­til the age of 17 to al­low Ha­did a nor­mal child­hood. IMG snapped her up as soon as she was able to get parental con­sent.

Un­like many su­per­mod­els who sud­denly make it big overnight, Ha­did con­tin­ues to put her ed­u­ca­tion first: “I choose The New School [for univer­sity] be­cause it’s a place where ev­ery­one has a lot of hob­bies and in­ter­ests, and the school em­braces that and al­lows stu­dents to ex­plore all of those things, in­stead of mak­ing them choose one.” Study­ing crim­i­nal psy­chol­ogy, Ha­did is ea­ger to pur­sue new projects af­ter mod­el­ing. “I think I’ll al­ways be in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try; would love to have a talk show or cook­ing show some day,” Ha­did muses.

Her down-to-earth, girl-next-door up­bring­ing is es­pe­cially ev­i­dent in her per­sonal style. As op­posed glam­ming up like her fel­low celebu­tants for day-to-day life, Ha­did ap­pre­ci­ates com­fort first. She de­scribes her look as, “Ca­sual chic…for a nor­mal day, I l love a cute out­fit that is com­fort­able. I’d say my style rep­re­sents my Cal­i­for­nia up­bring­ing and my cur­rent New York City lifestyle.” Cit­ing Carine Roit­feld as her big­gest fash­ion in­flu­ence, the im­por­tance Ha­did places on ef­fort­less cool is ob­vi­ous: “From the mo­ment we met, she took me un­der her wing, taught me so much, and led me to so many op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

To­day Ha­did is a mem­ber of the new­est co­hort of fash­ion in­dus­try su­per­mod­els. It is ob­vi­ous that con­fi­dence has been the se­cret to her suc­cess. She’s well aware the com­pe­ti­tion in the in­dus­try as a su­per­model is fierce and was de­ter­mined to over­come rejection by turn­ing ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence into pos­i­tive feed­back. “Know within your­self that you are beau­ti­ful no mat­ter what, so that any words that crit­i­cize you or try to tear you down can be used as lessons and mo­ti­va­tion.” Un­de­ni­ably on a ca­reer high, her con­tract with May­belline has pushed the su­per­model to the next strato­sphere of suc­cess: “I get more con­fi­dent as I reach more of goals be­cause I know how hard my team and I work, and it’s re­ally ful­fill­ing to be re­warded through op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

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