Gigi Hadid And Lena Dunham Talk Candidly About Social Media: 'You Get Screwed For Being Open.'

In a panel discussion about the expectations on women to be perfect, Gigi Hadid and Lena Dunham sat down with bevy of female celebrities to discuss what it means to live in a world dictated by impossible standards for female celebrities

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Combined, they have approximately nine million Twitter and 28 million Instagram followers. For most of us, such unfathomable notoriety and loyal online followings may provide a sense of popularity and adoration, coupled with a gnawing sense of anxiety, self-doubt and intimidation.

Something model Gigi Hadid and writer/actress Lena Dunham know a thing or two about.

Last week, the pair sat down for a panel discussion in Soho, New York for Reebok's new Perfect Never campaign – of which Hadid currently fronts – and were joined by Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, actresses Ruby Rose and Zoë Kravitz to discuss perfection, social media and self-esteem.

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Following an emotional discussion of the pitfalls of perfection ('There are things that people think I am, and parts of my career that are visual based, but there's a lot more to me,' revealed Gigi), the conversation soon turned to the impact social media has on the A-listers' mental health, confidence and work/life balance.

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After all, this is a group of women who together have struggled online with death threats, accusations of racism, bigotry, homophobic slurs, degrading comments made about their appearances, skin colours and political opinions, to name but a few online attacks over the years.

Kravitz – who has previously spoken out about the #OscarSoWhite controversy and her battle with eating disorders – told the women about her own struggle with blocking out the negative voices on social media which regularly criticise her personal and professional choices and appearance.

'It's easy to start to listen to the things people have to say,' she told the group of women.

Rad being part of the @ReebokWoman 👟🙍🏽panel for Woman #PerfectNever @reebok

A video posted by Zoë Kravitz (@zoeisabellakravitz) on

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Hadid admitted she too battles with the constant demand on social media, the hope to be fully 'understood' and the relentless disappointment she's failing those around her.

Gigi told the panellists:

'People say, 'You're a model but you should be more than a model, you should show you're smart, host this show, be funny. Don't just be a model, have an opinion.'

'But, when you get up there are put so much energy into being your best and making everyone happy, 50 per cent of people are still thinking 'it wasn't good enough'.

'When you feel like you're giving so much and it doesn't make everyone happy, you end up thinking, 'What's the point? Why put so much of myself out there?' she added, alluding to her recent hosting stint at the 2016 American Music Awards that saw her lambasted for being a 'racist' after publicly mocking president-elect Trump's wife, Melania.

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In order to overcome those situations, the 21-year-model – who publicly announced she would be taking a month off social media in the New Year – revealed she consciously chooses to listen to the voices from people who matter to her, such as her parents and friends.

She also admitted to often having to to sit herself down and asking herself, 'If the worlds opinions didn't exist, did I feel like I did a good job? Did I prepare like I wanted to to my standards? Would my coaches in high school be proud of me?'

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Talk of her sporting education seemed to be a constant source of strength for the former junior Olympic volleyball qualifying player.

'When my high school volleyball coach texts me to say 'That was bad ass', that's what makes me happy. There are so many walls, and you feel like no matter where you turn you hit one.'

However, when Hadid feels victimized or feels her confidence levels are depleting, it's refreshing to hear that she regularly turns to friend and fellow A-lister, Lena Dunham who is always on hand to offer some words of wisdom.

The Girls creator – who herself has battled with the pitfalls of social media, most recently following her vociferous opinions on the presidential election – admitted she recently spoke with Gigi on the phone 'for hours' about the difficulty with wanting to be transparent with fans but having to suffer the backlash from being so honest.

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'I remember when I publicly admitted I don't look at Twitter anymore because I don't need to see a million dudes telling me to go kill myself. It's a literal nightmare to see thousands of men telling you to kill yourself,' Dunham explained.

You shouldn't have to be tough.

'If you feel like it's affecting you at that moment, there's no way you don't internalise that amount of hatred,' she added, before noting that actively choosing not to engage with negativity online is one the bravest decisions a person can take.

'Especially if you work in a field that's male dominated, if you choose to talk about politics or say 'this is my body and this is how I want to use my body or the rights I should have pertaining to my body'. There are a lot of people we have recently learned don't want this for women and we cannot let those voices enter our heads,' she affirmed to an applauding audience.

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Moving the discussion on to the stigma of mental health care, Hadid admitted she often finds it difficult when people make fun of her on social media about her voice shaking in interviews.

'If you hear that it's because of my anxiety,' she added. Lena explains such self-consciousness derives from the expectations of women to be perfect as a result of society's construction of '24-hour women'.

She explained:

'A woman who can get up, do her job, be the present girl friend, be a parent and look good doing it. It's too much pressure for anyone or the challenges of life.

'We're all going to have a moment in life when we crash. You see that in Hollywood when men are talked about being brave and women are seen as going down a downward spiral.'

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However, despite Lena admitting that she'd prefer to be open about her mental health issues and long-time suffering of endometriosis, Hadid jumped in to say that in the public eye, celebrities are often damned if they attempt to talk openly about their own sufferings with medical issues, for fear or being perceived to wanting to 'own' the illness.

'You get screwed for being open. People are like 'You said this wrong', but you're just trying to share your story. You're not saying you know everything about it.'

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Gigi also highlighted how 'the negative people on social media don't realise they're taking away from what could be so positive'.

During the discussion, Dunham spoke of her love/hate relationship with social media platforms, explaining that despite appreciating comments between female fans discussing mental issues and body shaming, she despises seeing the plethora of comments from a handful of men who 'come in and ruin the party'.

'For a while after the election, I started disabling my comments but it made me sad because I wanted to be in dialogue with other women and engaged people. There were a couple of rotten eggs ruining the whole basket,' she joked.

Talking of a recent incident about an unsavoury comment from a Twitter user, she described how she felt she had to reply to a message that read, 'I hate you, I don't know why, everything you do annoys me.'

This Fab X Broad City collab is my safe space 😋

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

While Hadid admitted she blocks users to save herself from consuming the negative side of social media, Lena revealed she often engages with hateful commenters in order to highlight their offensive and unreasonable behaviour.

'I wrote back to say, 'I did read this and I'm a person too. I don't understand why you felt the need to express this but I'm concerned that someone has hurt you badly and I feel that you need to have a conversation with someone who could help you.

'I'm going to block you and not because I don't like you but because I don't think this is a good use of your time, so I'm going to save you from yourself.'

Ruby Rose concluded the discussion on the pressures of social media and the expectations of female perfection, advising her fellow panelists and audience members: 'Don't take advice from an egg', referring to the anonymous egg image used by Twitter users.

Sounds like pretty good advice to us.

Watch the full panel discussion below.

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