Actress Chloe Bennet put Gigi Hadid and Steve Harvey on blast for making “ignorant” jokes after Hadid was caught on video mocking Asians by squinting her eyes.
“Dear Gigi Hadid, As a kid, (and frankly as an adult) people would make fun of me for being Chinese. For having ‘Asian eyes,’” the “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” star posted on Instagram on Wednesday, accompanied by a cute throwback photo when she was a little girl. “I would laugh it off because it was always a ‘joke,’ and if I didn’t I was being ‘too sensitive.’”
In a video, Hadid, 21, can be seen imitating a Buddha face carved on a cookie while she was out to dinner with friends.
“In reality it made me feel horrible,” wrote Bennet, whose dad is Chinese-American. “Like, just BEING ME was a joke that was not meant to be taken seriously. I was embarrassed of who I was. I dyed my hair blonde to make myself look less Asian just so I could feel ‘worthy’ of the people who made me feel less than.”
“Fortunately, now I know that none of this is true,” she went on. “That my value does not come from how I LOOK, but from my CHARACTER. From how I treat others… It hurts my heart to see someone like you, a beautiful young woman with so much influence, act in this inconsiderate way.”
Hadid hasn’t said anything since the backlash started on social media. But her on again/off again boyfriend, Zayn Malik, whose dad is British-Pakistani, defended her by tweeting:
“This does not make you a bad person or racist, however, it does make you ignorant to the pain that your actions can cause others,” Bennet explained in her open letter to Hadid. “No matter how unintentional those actions are. And, even if it was just ‘a joke.’”
“So…to the young Asian men and women who are used to laughing off others ignorance, even though deep down you are hurting. I HEAR YOU,” the 24-year-old actress continued. “You are badass. You are awesome. Who you are is not ‘funny’. YOU determine your self worth. Be proud of who you are.”
Bennet also aimed her comments at comedian Steve Harvey, who has since apologized for racist comments he made targeting Asian men in January.
She ended the letter with: “P.S. While I’m at it, Asian men are super sexy. So with all due respect fuck you Steve Harvey.”
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