Bella Hadid has opened up about her ‘sadness’ at being denied the opportunity to grow up in ‘Muslim culture’ with her Palestinian father.
She said she was ‘extracted’ from that side of her family when her mother moved her to California following her parents’ divorce.
The model, 25, is the daughter of Dutch supermodel and former reality star Yolanda Hadid, and Palestinian real estate developer Mohamed Hadid.
She was born in Washington, D.C., where she spent the first four years of her life growing up around relatives from her Palestinian side.
But after her parents split when Bella was four, she and her siblings – Gigi and Anwar – relocated to Santa Barbara, California, with their mother.
Speaking to GQ in a new interview, the half-Palestinian star explained that she yearned for a chance to explore that side of her history after moving to the West coast.
She said she would have loved to have studied and practiced the religion as a child, but ‘wasn’t given that’ opportunity.
Bella added that was often the only Arab girl in her class at school, which resulted in her being regularly subjected to racist bullying and left her feeling ‘sad and lonely.’
‘I was with my Palestinian side [of the family in D.C.]’, she said. ‘And I got extracted when we moved to California.
‘I would have loved to grow up and be with my dad every day and studying and really being able to practice, just in general being able to live in a Muslim culture, but I wasn’t given that.’
She added of her upbringing in Santa Barbara, where she faced ‘racist name-calling:’ ‘For so long I was missing that part of me, and it made me really, really sad and lonely.’
Bella is set to make her acting debut in the Hulu series, Ramy, which is about ‘a first-generation American Muslim who is on a spiritual journey in his politically divided New Jersey neighborhood.’
Bella revealed that the role reignited her desire to embrace her heritage, which she was denied following her parents’ divorce.
She explained that while she was filming the series, she was actually brought to tears when the crew surprised her with a Free Palestine T-shirt.
‘I couldn’t handle my emotions,’ she added. ‘Growing up and being Arab, it was the first time that I’d ever been with like-minded people. I was able to see myself.’