Delilah Belle Hamlin, the daughter of Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, expanded her modeling career down under earlier this month, strutting the runways at Fashion Week Australia. Hamlin opened the show for Koral, walked for I Am Gia, and even managed to get in some tourist time around Sydney.
At just 19, Hamlin is already a unique force in the fashion industry. And, as she has climbed the ranks, she has also been open about her struggles with anxiety — at least through her mom, who discussed on a recent episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills how her daughter has struggled with anxiety attacks since age 11. “She would not leave the house” and was “instantly agoraphobic,” Rinna said, noting that she feared elevators, airplanes, and other enclosed spaces.
Delilah isn’t the only Hamlin to deal with mental health issues. Her younger sister, 16-year-old Amelia, recently opened up about her eating disorder on Instagram.
“Last year at this time there was no doubt that I was not okay. Not only physically but also mentally,” she wrote. “One in 200 women in the U.S. 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 owning my curves that I naturally have, and not forcing myself to starve them away.”
The Hamlins are in good company. Increasingly, celebrities have shared their stories of anxiety and other emotional struggles with fans. Top models like Kendall Jenner and Gigi and Bella Hadid are open about their issues with anxiety, especially as a side effect of their work. “Anxiety was a huge hurdle for me to deal with this past year (and security concerns didn’t help), but I think I’m finally learning how to cope,” said Jenner last year. “Sometimes I have to literally sit myself down and be like, You are a good person,” Gigi Hadid has said. Model Adwoa Aboah even started an organization, Gurls Talk, to minimize stigma around body issues and depression.
It may seem like anxiety disorders are especially prominent in the modeling industry, but psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the industry is just a microcosm of the rest of the world. “Anxiety disorders are pervasive whether someone is a student, a schoolteacher, a clerk at a store, a reporter, or a model and actor,” says Alpert.
For models, specifically, the heightened expectations and focus on physicality can exacerbate existing disorders. “There’s an expectation to be flawless, which can heighten anxiety and make it more intense,” Alpert says.
For young models at the start of their careers, Alpert advises having a thorough understanding of the industry. Models who believe they aren’t living up to their expectations would do well to realize the industry is built on unachievable ideas of perfection. “A lot of models that I’ve worked with, when they’re young in their career, they have unrealistic expectations and there’s eventually a huge wakeup call. Going in knowing what the industry is like can be helpful,” he says.
Ultimately it’s the industry that needs to focus less on perfection and more on showcasing real women. But in the meantime, Alpert works with young success-strivers to adjust or reframe their inner narrative and create realistic expectations.
As the young Hamlins move forward in their careers, they’d be wise to continue sharing their stories — both of success and struggle — with fans. “Any time a famous person comes out and talks about their affliction with a medical or mental health issue, it’s a reminder for the public that the rich and famous still deal with anxiety, depression, body image issues,” says Alpert. “And it tells the young actor or model, ‘I’m normal.'”
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