American model Gigi Hadid has been applauded for her quick-thinking reaction when a man she didn’t know grabbed her from behind in Milan.
The 21-year-old was manhandled by a notorious Ukrainian prankster Vitallii Sediuk, who came up behind Hadid, grabbed her and lifted her up when she and sister Bella were leaving a fashion show in the Italian city.
According to a self defense expert, the young model’s response was perfect – she turned to see if she knew her assailant, then swiftly used her elbow to hit his head, wriggled free and turned to confront him verbally.
“What the f**?! Let me go of me!” Hadid yelled, before the man put her down and she began chasing him down the street.
“Who the f*** are you, you piece of s***!” Hadid yelled furiously as a security guard intervened.
She then got into a waiting car with Bella, but not before asking security and photographers to “go find that man”.
Watch Gigi Hadid’s response below:
Ruairi Molloy, instructor and owner of KM Melbourne – a Krav Maga training centre specialising in women’s self-defense – said Hadid’s response was “excellent”.
“It was very good, I was impressed with her,” Mr Molloy says.
“In terms of a strike, elbow is good. All she really had available to her was an elbow or a rear head butt.
“What’s really good is she looked first, she didn’t just randomly strike out which is something we definitely train people not to do. Look before you strike.
“She saw a problem and straight away she didn’t hesitate, she started attacking. As soon as she was dropped to the ground, another good thing was she faced the guy and turned around.
“Like a lot of assault against women, it’s good to address the situation. She verbalised the problem and the man – like any guy who gets dressed down – scowled away.”
Krav Maga is a technique developed by the Israel Defense Forces that combines elements of aikido, judo, boxing and wrestling to handle real-life situations with effective counter attacks.
Mr Molloy said Hadid’s encounter was of the “less serious” variety.
“It wasn’t a major grab … if it was a sexual assault, he’d be more likely to cover her mouth or grab her and dump her on the ground.”
However, Hadid’s confidence was her saviour – something all women can learn from.
“She looks quite confident and confidence is a very important part,” Mr Molloy says.
“If you think of the psychology of attackers, they don’t attack confident people, they look for the weakest link, an easy target.”
As a keen boxer, Hadid was also at a distinct physical advantage thanks to her fitness levels and knowledge of boxing.
Watch Gigi Hadid show off her boxing skills below:
After the incident, she tweeted that she thanked her boxing coach.
“Girls, prepare yourselves so that, if you ever feel in danger, muscle memory can fight back for you,” Hadid said.
GIRLS, prepare yourselves so that, if you ever feel in danger, MUSCLE MEMORY can fight back for you. Thank you all so much for ur support.❤️
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) September 22, 2016
Despite some media headlines suggesting she “overreacted” and “lashed out”, the model’s fans defended her on social media.
Alternative headline – GOOD FOR HER: Gigi Hadid Reacts In Totally Appropriate Way When Random Man Tries To Lift Her In The Street pic.twitter.com/WTsbHcNt43
— Rachel McGrath (@RachelMcGrath) September 22, 2016
Hadid’s mother Yolanda, one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, posted a photo of the incident on her Instagram and praised her daughter for “standing up for what is rightfully yours”.
The ‘pest’ behind the stunt
Sediuk claimed he targeted Hadid as part of a protest against the inclusion of celebrities rather than “real models” on catwalks and magazine covers.
“While I consider Gigi Hadid beautiful, she and her friend Kendall Jenner have nothing to do with high fashion. By doing this, I encourage the fashion industry to put true talents on the runway and Vogue covers instead of well-connected cute girls from Instagram,” he said.
This wasn’t the first time Sediuk has drawn criticism for “pranking” A-list celebrities – he’s actually banned from all Hollywood events after a 2014 incident in which he punched Brad Pitt in the face.
Kim Kardashian has also been an object of Sediuk’s uninvited attention, as has Australian model Miranda Kerr, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Sediuk crawled under the dress of American actress America Ferrera while a shocked Cate Blanchett looked on.
Watch Vitalii Sediuk’s stunt at the Cannes Film Festival below:
Sediuk showed little remorse for his actions, posting a photo of himself posing next to a billboard featuring Hadid’s face on Instagram just hours after the stunt.
A photo posted by Vitalii Sediuk (@vitaliisediuk) on