Lisa Rinna and her 17-year-old daughter, Amelia Gray brought eating disorders into the public eye this season on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
In a recent episode, the Hamlin family was having a barbecue together. Lisa Rinna’s 17-year-old daughter Amelia Gray Hamlin said that she wasn’t hungry and refused to eat. Like many other individuals who are experiencing an eating disorder, Amelia claimed that she was allergic to the foods that she was uncomfortable eating. While many people do have legitimate food allergies, it is common to use an allergy as a ‘culturally acceptable’ way to avoid eating ‘fear foods.’
This scene is one of many examples of Amelia’s battle with anorexia, which has been hard on Amelia as well as her whole family. Amelia was frustrated with her parents when they insisted that she eat something. Tension continued to build when Lisa and Harry made comments blaming each other for the situation.
To complicate this difficult situation more, the Hamlin family continues to face this illness publicly. Amelia has been open about her recovery process and has advocated for access to mental health resources on social media. This is wonderful, but on the flip side, she must now endure negative comments and criticism from judgmental viewers and followers. Recovery is never easy, but constant external pressure adds yet another challenging layer to the already emotional experience.
If anyone in your life has an eating disorder, this episode must have struck a chord.
When you’re close to someone with an eating disorder, it impacts you too. Like all forms of mental illness, eating disorders can put a lot of stress on families. Parents and siblings often face feelings of guilt, confusion, frustration, and more. It is our instinct to help when someone we love is hurting and sometimes, it is hard to know exactly what they need.
For anyone facing a similar situation, the good news is that there are ways to support your family member. Family-Based Treatment (FBT) is the only evidence-based model that has been proven to work with adolescents with eating disorders. The model encourages families and loved ones to decrease feelings of blame so that they can use that energy toward moving forward. FBT also focuses on embedding communication and behavioral techniques that can help to interrupt maladaptive coping skills. FBT is also a great tool to help create or restore openness and mutual trust between the family system. By focusing on the whole family, these interventions build a support network outside of treatment to promote lasting recovery.
You don’t have to do this alone. If you or someone you love is living with an eating disorder, we are here to help.