Kyle Richards Reveals She Had an Eating Disorder and Weighed 99 Lbs.
For the first time ever, Kyle Richards is opening up about her past eating disorder.
During Tuesday night’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Richards, 50, tearfully disclosed to castmates Lisa Rinna, Dorit Kemsley, Erika Girardi and Teddi Mellencamp that she previously battled an eating disorder in the 1980s.
“Lisa Rinna opened up about Amelia, who was very brave to share her struggles with an eating disorder. I can’t just pretend that I don’t know what that feels like. So, guess what? I had an eating disorder when I was younger,” Richards said in a confessional interview.
On the episode, the Bravo stars were having lunch outdoors while on their cast trip to Provence, France, where Rinna shared some “exciting” news about her youngest daughter, 17-year-old Amelia Gray Hamlin, who had previously revealed her own battle with anorexia.
“I have something exciting to share. I think it’s exciting. Amelia Gray has gone to New York and what she’s chosen to study — and I’m so moved to even share it — is nutrition, wellness and psychology,” Rinna, 55, explained.
Added Rinna: “Because she’s so moved by helping people. After sharing her story, she’s become this activist.” (Amelia had first gone public with her personal battle with anorexia in 2018, penning a lengthy Instagram message beside two bikini photos of herself: one from 2017 and another taken shortly before her posting. On a previous episode of RHOBH earlier this year, Amelia admitted to her mother that her struggle with the eating disorder got so bad that at one point, she “could have died.”)
In a confessional interview, Rinna said of her daughter, “I am so proud of Amelia. She came out on her social media about her anorexia. Amelia has really taken something that has been an issue and turned it into something that is helping other people. I mean, she’s 17. She’s still trying to get through her life and figure it out. It’s like an addict.”
When Mellencamp, 37, asked Rinna if she knew about Amelia Gray’s disorder prior to her daughter disclosing it, Rinna said, “We knew about a few months before that. We saw one of the best anorexia doctors and he feels you’re genetically born with it. It’s genetic.”
At that, Richards bravely revealed her own past struggle.
“I feel really weird even saying anything … because I’ve never ever talked about this. Not even to my daughters, which is why I’m staying quiet because I feel weird,” began Richards, who is mom to daughters Farrah, 30, Alexia, 22, Sophia, 19, and Portia, 11.
“When I was younger, I had my own problems,” continued Richards. “But I never wanted to say because I had my daughters and I never even wanted that in their head.”
She explained that “it started when I was 17. I was on a TV show and I didn’t like — they kept putting me in these big things. And my boobs were big when I was young and my sisters were tiny and cute,” she said, referencing sisters Kathy Hilton and Kim Richards. “Everybody was blonde and blue-eyed and skinny. I said, ‘I don’t like my wardrobe’ and they said, ‘Well, lose some weight and we’ll put you in cuter wardrobe.’ ”
“People would compliment me and the more they complimented me, the less I would eat,” she said. “I would take V8 juice and put it in a bowl and heat it up and that was my food. I was 99 lbs.”
Richards said that “it was like that for years,” referencing the time she was on-camera in the ’80s. “I can remember times where I said, ‘I’m only going to have six almonds today. That’s all I’m going to have.’ ”
“When I was growing up and my sisters were so skinny and all the models were, that’s what triggered all of that. But I was very self-conscious,” she said before she began to cry.
The mother of four stated that she didn’t say anything up until that point “because I was scared that if I ever shared it with them that they would …” as she continued to shed tears. “I never wanted my kids to have that problem, you know what I mean?”
In an attempt to comfort Richards, Rinna said, “Just because you’re saying it doesn’t mean they’re going to do it.”
Still, Richards was fearful that her own disorder could negatively impact her daughters: “I know, but they’re older now. But I didn’t ever want to say it when they were little, you know, because I thought I don’t even want to put that in their head.”
“It terrified me to ever tell my children, ‘I used to have an eating disorder.’ I always wanted them to have a healthy body image and I never say things like, ‘Oh, I feel fat in this’ or pointing out anything about their body. I just wanted them to be healthy,” Richards said in a confessional.
Although the reveal was difficult for Richards, she was met with overwhelming support from her costars.
When Kemsley, 42, suggested that Richards tell her kids when she returned home from the trip, Richards said, “Yeah, I will. I’ll tell them.”
“I love your girls,” said Rinna. “You’ve done an amazing job.”
Girardi, 47, said of Richards, “How brave of Kyle to admit to the five of us that she struggled with an eating disorder.”
“I think it’s definitely easier for us to be vulnerable in front of each other. I just don’t feel like we’re going to get judged or the information’s going to be used against you at a later date or you’re going to receive some jab out of nowhere,” said Girardi, who took aim at missing castmate Lisa Vanderpump. “It feels like a safe space. It’s really nice — because Lisa Vanderpump’s not here.”
While Richards was brave to share her truth, she admitted ahead of the episode’s airing that she had regret over sharing it in detail.
“I have to say I regret talking about this,” she tweeted.
“I don’t want any young people getting ideas. Which is why I never discussed it before,” continued Richards in her tweet. “I’m not proud. Just being honest.”
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.