Gigi Hadid says her mom's battle with Lyme disease made her 'very independent' at a young age

Gigi Hadid is opening up about her family's health struggles.

The 23-year-old model covers the March issue of Elle and reveals how Lyme disease -- something her mom, Yolanda, sister Bella, and brother Anwar, all suffer from -- affected her upbringing.

"Growing up, having three of my family members sick made me very independent," she tells the magazine. "My mom couldn’t drive or get out of bed some days, so I took my brother to school with me, or I made lunch."

"But I also felt a lot of guilt for being the one person in the family who didn’t understand what they were going through," she adds. "It’s hard when your whole family is in pain and you don’t know what to do."

"I'm the only one in, of my siblings, my mom and my family that hasn't been affected by Lyme disease," she said. "It's been really hard for me because I'm the only one that doesn't really understand it."

"What's been hardest for me is just trying to find a way to be their hope and kind of be a strength for them even with the disease that I can't understand fully because I haven't been through it," she continued.

Though Gigi does not have the same ailment as her family, she has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, something her mom has helped her to manage.

"As a 17- and 18-year-old, I was prescribed a medication that many people start taking when they are 50, and it can lead to bad things if you take it for too long," she tells Elle. "So my mom looked into some holistic treatments. Also, in California, I went to see a doctor for CBD treatments. You can make a life for yourself in ways that won’t hurt your body."

Despite their collective health struggles, Gigi is quick to acknowledge her privilege, which largely stems from her mom's stint on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills from 2012 to 2016. 

"I come from privilege, and I recognize my privilege," she says. "But because my mom was on a TV show, people think that my whole childhood was fame. It absolutely was not. My mom was a model. She moved to the States when she was 16 to send money back to her family in Holland. My dad was a refugee and worked his way up in every way. I work hard to honor my parents."

That hard work began when Gigi was a child model, though she credits her mom with not pushing her into making it a career.

"When I was a kid, modeling felt more like I was having a snow day [from school], only you were running around the beach, being a kid with other kids. My mom took me out of modeling before it ever felt like work," she says. "In high school, I was a competitive horseback rider and volleyball player. But [college] was the deciding factor: The New School was my favorite school in New York, but I chose to go to New York not to play volleyball or to ride but to be a model."

"I always kind of knew I would end up being a model," she adds.

Now that she's firmly established in her career, Gigi has made it a point to stand up for what she believes when she's on a photo shoot.

"When I was young, and I knew in my heart that it wasn’t a creative thing I should be going for, I would try to reach out to people on set, but maybe they weren’t the right ones to talk to," she recalls. "As I’ve gotten more successful, people listen to me more. I have more confidence to know when I think something is wrong and stand up for that."

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Gigi Hadid out and about in 2018
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Gigi Hadid out and about in 2018
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in soho on December 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
US model Gigi Hadid poses on the red carpet ahead of the 2019 Pirelli Calendar launch gala at the Pirelli HangarBicocca on December 5, 2018 in Milan. - Pictures in the new Pirelli calendar 2019 were taken by Scottish photographer Albert Watson. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 03: Gigi Hadid attends as Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola & Katie Grand celebrate The Marc Jacobs Redux Grunge Collection and the opening of Marc Jacobs Madison on December 03, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11: Gigi Hadid is seen in the Meatpacking District on October 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0946 -- Pictured: Model Gigi Hadid during an interview on October 23, 2018 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 14: Gigi Hadid attends the Reebok Classic 'Future Nostalgia' Party on November 14, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)
Model Gigi Hadid walks the runway at the Versace Pre-Fall 2019 Runway Show on December 02, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08: Gigi Hadid arrives to Avenue on November 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
US model Gigi Hadid walks the runway at the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on November 8, 2018 at Pier 94 in New York City. - Every year, the Victoria's Secret show brings its famous models together for what is consistently a glittery catwalk extravaganza. It's the most-watched fashion event of the year (800 million tune in annually) with around 12 million USD spent on putting the spectacle together according to Harper's Bazaar. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Model Gigi Hadid presents a creation during the presentation of the Roberto Cavalli fashion show, as part of the Women's Spring/Summer 2019 fashion week in Milan, on September 22, 2018. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 19: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on July 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 19: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on June 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Gigi Hadid on May 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Model Gigi Hadid is seen on set of a photoshoot in Soho on May 31, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Model Gigi Hadid is seen on set of a photoshoot in Soho on May 31, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Gigi Hadid arrives at The Beekman on May 31, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Gigi Hadid is seen on April 23, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Gigi Hadid (L) and Bella Hadid are seen in Brooklyn on April 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: Gigi Hadid is seen on June 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Gigi Hadid attends the 'Ocean's 8' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on June 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Gigi Hadid attends 'Ocean's 8' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on June 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 04: Model Gigi Hadid is seen arriving to the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards at Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 04: Gigi Hadid attends the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards at Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Gigi Hadid is seen on June 01, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ignat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Gigi Hadid arrives at The Beekman on May 31, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on May 31, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Gigi Hadid is seen in Manhattan on May 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Gigi Hadid attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Gigi Hadid attends 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & the Catholic Imagination', the 2018 Costume Institute Benefit at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 04: Gigi Hadid is seen at Charles De Gaulle airport on May 4, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pierre Suu/GC Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 03: Gigi Hadid walks the runway during the Chanel Cruise 2018/2019 Collection at Le Grand Palais on May 3, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Model Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid are seen walking in Noho on May 1, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Gigi Hadid seen on the streets of Manhattan on April 26, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: (L-R) Gigi Hadid, Serena Williams and Bella Hadid attend the 'Being Serena' New York Premiere at Time Warner Center on April 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Gigi Hadid seen out about in Manhattan on April 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on April 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 05: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on April 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on April 3, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: Gigi Hadid seen on the streets of Manhattan on March 29, 2018 in New York (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on March 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on March 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by TheStewartofNY/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on March 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Model Gigi Hadid is seen arriving at MSG on 34street on March 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Gigi Hadid seen on the streets of Manhattan on March 09, 2018 in New York, NY. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Gigi Hadid is seen at JFK Airport on March 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid leave the Caf�Flore in Paris, France, on March 3, 2018. (Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 28: Model Gigi Hadid is seen on February 28, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 01: Model Gigi Hadid is seen on March 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 27: Model Gigi Hadid is seen on February 27, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images)
MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 21: Model Gigi Hadid is seen backstage ahead of the Alberta Ferretti show during Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018/19 on February 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 21: Gigi Hadid wearing denim vest, tartan jacket, denim button shirt and Bella Hadid wearing cropped top and jacket, silk pants seen outside Alberta Ferretti during Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018/19 on February 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 20: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on February 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Gigi Hadid is seen in SoHo on February 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Gigi Hadid seen on the streets of Manhattan on February 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on February 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Gigi Hadid wears a high slit dress when out and about on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Gigi Hadid seen on the streets of Manhattan on February 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Gigi Hadid in pink wig seen out and about in Manhattan on February 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on February 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Model Gigi Hadid is seen in Soho on February 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on January 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 27: Gigi Hadid is seen at Haneda Airport on January 27, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 23: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on January 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 21: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on January 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 16: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on January 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12: Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid seen on January 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid seen on the streets of Manhattan on January 11, 2018 in New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: Gigi Hadid is seen in Tribecca on January 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09: Model Gigi Hadid is seen walking in Soho on January 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 08: Gigi Hadid is seen on January 08, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ignat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Gigi Hadid is seen in NoHo on January 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by TheStewartofNY/GC Images)
MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 21: Gigi Hadid walks the runway at the Versace Ready to Wear fashion show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on September 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 21: Gigi Hadid walks the runway at the Versace show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on September 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 21: Gigi Hadid is seen during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on September 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Model Gig Hadid is seen on October 24, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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