There’s no “right way” to handle so many of the hurdles life throws at us — most of the time, we have to take risks to figure out what helps us cope. And given Lisa Rinna’s reaction to daughter Amelia’s Instagram on her eating disorder, it seems like this Real Housewives star is proud of her daughter for taking that risk and helping others on the way. A little over a year ago, Amelia Gray Hamlin went public with her anorexia struggle and her road to recovery. Now, the mother-daughter duo is reflecting on how that announcement played out and how they’ve dealt with the public’s response.
Hamlin addressed her anorexia with an Instagram post in March 2018, showing side-by-side photos of her body then compared to 2017. She lays it all out: how deeply she’d struggled to love herself, how she came to the decision to get healthy, and what point she’s at on her journey now. When Entertainment Tonight talked with Hamlin and Rinna at Beautycon, the pair shared that, above all, they’re proud of Hamlin for taking that step.
Discussing that first post, Hamlin had this to say: “I think everything’s bittersweet. It was hard at the beginning, but I’m so happy and so grateful that I did it and I would never take it back. Honestly, I’m just proud of myself and I’m proud to say that.” Mom Rinna adds this: “Every parent knows [that] you’re only as happy as your least happy child, if I may say […] So it’s tough, you know? But it’s been great. Amelia’s been great. and I think we’ve helped a lot of people. She’s helped a lot of people. So I’m just proud.”
Instagram isn’t the only place where Hamlin’s struggle became public — her struggle also came up on this season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Rinna both discussed her daughter’s condition among friends and filmed a candid conversation between herself and daughter Hamlin. “No matter how many deaths anorexia causes, no matter how much blindness, how much hair loss, all I cared about was the skinniness,” Hamlin told her mother. “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to other people […] I hope people in the entertainment industry can stop putting up this facade of being perfect.”
Hamlin makes an important point: too often, celebrities are not upfront about the work that goes into maintaining their appearance, leading others to feel hopeless or strive to match an unrealistic model. It’s particularly poignant for Hamlin to make this distinction, given how much she has grown up in the public eye with Rinna as her mother and Mad Men actor Harry Hamlin as her father. Amelia Hamlin’s public platform allows her to help others in similar positions — a great gift, and not something to be taken lightly. But it’s hard not to wonder whether Hamlin’s intensely public life contributed to her eating disorder and the mental health struggles behind it.
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I feel comfort with finally posting something that I wish I was confident enough to post long ago. I’m getting many comments comparing my body today vs. my body last year. I think that the support from my followers has really pushed me into writing this. Anyways, last year at this time there was no doubt that I was not okay. Not only physically but also mentally. I feel like sometimes people forget that just because your job involves being in front of the camera, doesn’t mean you can’t have bad days. We’re human. All of us. Instead of people ever commenting on my mental stability, people commented on my weight. Usually, when people are struggling with an eating disorder it stems from your mind, and your body is a reflection of it. I could go on and on about that time of my life, but the most important part about it was waking up one morning and deciding to stop sabotaging myself. My health, my physical health, my mental health and everything about myself. Once I got the help that I needed, shortly after the second photo was taken, I began to try to love myself for me. I am SO beyond humbled and grateful to have the platform that I do at such a young age, and to wake up every morning with a little girl reaching out to me and telling me I am her inspiration, really makes me feel like I have a purpose. I went through this journey not for attention, not for people to pitty me, but to help. I am on this earth to help people, and I know that. One in 200 women in the US suffer from anorexia. And I want to help. The first photo, taken today is not a photo of the perfect girl. That is a photo of me, trying to figure out my body, and owing my curves that I naturally have, and not forcing myself to starve them away. I have a lot of health complications after starving myself for so long so it’s going to be a journey that I go through for a large part of my life. I still have an extremely healthy life style and I workout so hard all week to maintain my Body. Not to say that recently being diagnosed with hashimotos has also been an extreme challenge for me to balance when still getting over this part of my life, but I am getting there. One day at a time. I want to help.
“Sometimes people forget that just because your job involves being in front of the camera, doesn’t mean you can’t have bad days,” Hamlin wrote in that emotional Instagram caption from 2018. “Instead of people ever commenting on my mental stability, people commented on my weight.” As we see Hamlin’s recovery publicly play out, we hope she takes this sentiment a step further, and acknowledges that leading an on-camera life isn’t always the best idea for people who struggle with these issues.
When Hamlin’s image went out into the world — RHOBH footage and Instagram posts alike — it didn’t just disappear. It was responded and reacted to by a world that’s often less kind than we’d hope. In Hamlin’s case, the world has had the option of commenting on her body since the age of 14, and there’s no way of knowing how differently her life might have developed otherwise. Hamlin may have been too young to make a clear decision on whether appearing on a reality TV show would adversely affect her. But hopefully, she can use what she’s learned from this journey to urge others to consider carefully before exposing themselves (or their families) in similar ways.