On Sunday, Hadid posted a picture to her Instagram story which showed her kicking up her boot in an airport. Hadid's shoe faces the window, which overlooks docked airplanes. One airplane bears the flag of the United Arab Emirates on its tail, while the other has the Saudi Arabian flag.
Some people who saw the photo were offended by it, as it appears that Hadid is showing the bottom of her shoe to the flags. In many Arab cultures, showing someone the bottom of your shoe is considered offensive, as it suggests one is "lower" than the other — as if they were no better than dirt under one's shoe. (Example: After Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad in 2003, many Iraqis attacked it with their shoes as the ultimate sign of disrespect.)
After Hadid posted the photo, the hashtag #BellaHadidIsRacist began trending on Twitter. Some people even said they would not purchase products associated with the model, such as Dior.
Now, Hadid — whose father is Palestinian-American — has issued an apology.
"I am posting this to clear up a few things that have been weighing on my heart," she wrote on Instagram and Twitter. "To begin, I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone, especially those of my own beautiful and powerful heritage. I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family, as well as my brothers and sisters throughout the world."
"Not only do I have so much respect from the bottom of my heart, I have always tried to stand up for what I feel is right, especially regarding the great Middle East. I have never and will never be the one to talk down to these countries...Only to spread love, and the true beauty of them, as the way I was taught by my Teta and father. To feel as if I have disappointed you is what hurts me the most."
She shared the same message in Arabic.
After posting her initial apology, Bella posted another on Twitter, calling it an "honest mistake."