To name Bella Hadid as the most beautiful woman in the world sets unrealistic standards for women everywhere, ignoring the wealth, access and questionable 'glow up' she's had over the years, says Caitlin McBride
There are a few undeniable facts in the world, one of which is that Bella Hadid is a very beautiful woman.
So beautiful, in fact, that according to a mathematical equation invented by the ancient Greeks to assess beauty, she passes with flying colours.
A story about Hadid’s new title as 'The most beautiful woman in the world, according to science' has been re-circulating in the last week, presumably as a reminder of the haves and have nots; the difference between the rest of the world feeling bloated and a stone heavier after Christmas juxtaposed with pictures of her on the beach in a bikini in St Barth’s.
Beauty is subjective - it always has been. But beauty is no longer in the eye of the beholder, but rather the result of an ancient mathematical equation so scientific it only became public knowledge in the clickbait age. A Holy Grail in a world obsessed with aesthetics.
'The Golden Ratio of Beauty Phi' rule is apparently a formula that inventors like Leonardo da Vinci and modern artists like plastic surgeons use to assess symmetry and create masterpieces. And Bella Hadid is undoubtedly a masterpiece.
Unfortunately for Bella, her rise to fame was documented on reality TV when her mother Yolanda Foster starred on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for four seasons and part of her storyline was marking her daughters Gigi and Bella’s attempts at making it in the modelling industry. As part of that, her face has been well documented through the ages.
Back in 2012, when the show aired, both she and Gigi were at the very start of their now illustrious careers, and Bella’s face looked, well...different.
It was the world’s introduction to Bella, and only one photo of her has ever been published of her before that time. It was taken in 2010 and let’s just say she looks even more different.
She has always denied having any plastic surgery, saying she’s “scared” to “mess up my face”.
Far be it from me to deny another woman's truth, but there is nothing natural about Bella Hadid’s beauty. Speculation about surgery aside, she grew up in an extraordinarily privileged background - her father, before he tried to declare bankruptcy, was a billionaire property developer and her mother a supermodel formerly married to music legend David Foster. She split her childhood between Malibu, where Yolanda famously picked fresh lemons from her three-acre estate, and a 35,000 square foot mansion in Beverly Hills.
With hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal, both Hadids grew up with the best of the best, which hardly places them in the same league as other models who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and used their natural beauty to ascend through the ranks. Or, to the ‘normal’ women they target through their myriad endorsement deals.
By comparison, Gisele Bündchen grew up in Horizontina, Brazil and moved to New York when she was 16 years old after being spotted at a McDonald’s. Heidi Klum, from the small German town of Bergisch Gladbach, won a modelling competition and moved Stateside at 19, thus kick-starting one of the most legendary fashion careers of the modern era.
Yolanda was famously strict with her then-aspiring model daughters’ diets in some of the more uncomfortable scenes during her time on the reality TV show.
Bella - who I'm sure is a perfectly nice person and a young woman whose star is outshining everyone else in her family - represents the Instagram era which actively shuns natural beauty. In order to be accepted, you need full lips, arched brows, smouldering cat-like eyes and high cheekbones. How everyone achieves this exact same look is not for me to speculate, but I mourn the days of appreciating what is genuine natural beauty.
After this year's Golden Globes, I was, as part of devotion to serious journalism, combing through the archives for red carpet dresses from the past. Just a few short years ago, we thought nothing of seeing celebrities whose teeth were not blindingly white, hairs that weren’t coiffed within an inch of its life and suiting wasn’t perfectly tailored.
These days, the ‘body positive’ movement, once a genuine campaign mobilised by well-intended individuals, has been hijacked by a performative group on social media. The sharing of stretch marks, cellulite and other perceived flaws by women who would otherwise qualify as supermodels is downright depressing. It is usually the type of women who only eat vegan food and pride ‘natural’ above all else, but smoke cigarettes and get Botox.
Natural beauty should be celebrated and on the rare occasions we see it - like when Keanu Reeves debuted a new relationship with artist Alexandra Grant in her beautiful grey-haired glory, we grip onto it with an almost godly might.
We already know that Bella Hadid and her cohorts are beautiful women because we have eyes. But to credit it to an ancient formula (which, unsurprisingly, was being pedalled by a plastic surgeon) adds yet another layer in already uneven playing field.
Bella Hadid isn’t the harbinger of its demise, but she is undoubtedly an obliging agent of it.
Style Talk Premium
Few things can inspire such a visceral reaction as the visible G-string. For many of us, it evokes thoughts of Britney Spears going through a tough period in the early-Noughties, with her thong peeping above her low-rise jeans - which is not exactly a good look.
A quick scroll through the Instagram feed of Kate Synnott, the Dublin-born, LA-based make-up artist, and you'd be under the impression that her life is a glossy whirlwind of red-carpet events, celebrity clients and Hollywood glamour.