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In the showbiz world where everyone seems to be richer, smarter, and better looking, being mentally healthy means learning to accept yourself as you are, both physically and mentally. Nobody’s perfect, not even supermodels like Bella Hadid, who has been declared by science as having the most beautiful face in the world for its superlative symmetry.

In November last year, the 25-year-old American supermodel opened up about how modelling and being in the constant limelight had eroded her confidence. Earlier, on Instagram, she said that she had suffered breakdowns and burnouts, with photos of her in tears and in a state of exhaustion. The problem got so bad that she became too anxious to leave her house for fear of being criticized for her choice of outfits.

I was in such a weird place mentally that it was really complicated for me to get out of the house and put an outfit together, especially with the anxiety of [paparazzi] being outside and all that. In the last year, it was really important for me to learn that even if people talk about my style or if they like it or if they don’t, it doesn’t matter, because it’s my style.”

Looking at Hadid’s background, it’s hard to believe she has suffered from a body image problem. As the daughter of Dutch model and actress Yolanda Hadid and JordanianAmerican real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, Bella is no stranger to fame as her parents are well-known socialites. Along with her elder sister Gigi and younger brother Anwar, Hadid has been under the limelight since her teenage years as their mother starred in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a famous reality show. The Hadids remain close, especially mother and daughter, despite their hectic schedules.

Hadid’s modelling career began at around the same time and took off almost overnight. One of her most recognized modelling assignments was from 2016-2018 with Victoria’s Secret (VS), the famous US lingerie brand. The model’s well-proportioned, 5ft-8.5-inch frame has earned her huge fame and fortune as Victoria’s Secret ‘Angel’. In less than two years, she was catapulted to international fame and become one of the world’s most sought-after models.

It was also the beginning of her struggle with body image. Last year, the public came to learn about the behind-the-scenes truth of VS Angels. Beneath their smiles and glamor, the women often faced contempt, prejudice, sexual advances, and harassment from VS executives. The company’s strict rules also put huge pressure on them, including Hadid. Daily workouts were necessary as they needed to constantly look toned and slender, while always looking feminine. The models’ schedules were super-hectic with a great deal of travel, but they were all required to conform to the rules.

When asked by Marie Claire if she had to unlearn “the toxic views about femininity or sexiness that the shows instilled,” Hadid replied, “Absolutely. I look at my body now as a temple. Before, it kind of got to the point where my body wasn’t owned by me.”

“My life for so many years revolved around only working and…how I was going to lose that weight for one of those shows. Now, I just am who I am. And I don’t need to change for anybody else—even when I see things online about people talking about my body or the way it fluctuates or this or that. I wake up in the mornings for me and not for anyone else.”

One thing that has soothed her soul is giving and sharing. Despite constant stress and depressive moods, Hadid tried to stay positive. She shows her love and support for family and friends on all occasions and has recently become more involved in charity. In 2018, she volunteered to help prepare 500 meals for the Bowery Mission on behalf of System of Service, Hashtag Lunch Bag, and Nike. Hadid has also made donations to local food banks in New York City to Feeding America to support Covid-19 relief. So far, she has supported and donated to a dozen charities working for children’s welfare and refugees, in addition to putting her designer clothes for auction and donating all proceeds to charity.

Now her world is back on track, Hadid seems to be happier with a more realistic view of herself. As the CEO and co-founder of non-alcoholic functional beverage company, Kin Euphorics, she is expected to be occupied with her business. The company’s goal is to encourage people to stay connected with friends without alcohol, so they remain sober and function well tomorrow through the use of herbs and nootropics.

Another big project is her rejoining VS as one of its nine ambassadors, whose mission is to champion diversity and female empowerment. For Hadid, the move was really about “taking my power back…instead of feeling like my body is some sort of money maker.”

Her story is a great reminder that we all have weaknesses and insecurities; there’s no need to feel ashamed about that. Only when we learn to respect and accept ourselves for who we are, inside and out, can we begin the journey of finding a better self.

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