What You Never Knew About Yolanda Hadid

When the public thinks of Yolanda Hadid, the two words that may come to mind are "luxury" and "drama." She's the glamorous former model who's raised three models herself — Gigi, Bella, and Anwar — and starred in "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Plenty of drama has arisen from her role as mom and reality TV star — from having her second divorce and health issues play out on "RHOBH" to her alleged altercation with Gigi's ex, Zayn Malik, and more recently, getting backlash when Bella admitted she got a nose job when she was a teen.

However, Yolanda would no doubt say that there's more to her than how people see her in the media. When asked by the late Larry King about things people got wrong about her, the Dutch-born television personality answered, "I think that they think I'm much more fancy than I really [am]. Deep in my heart, I'm just a farm girl from Holland and that's where I feel happiest."

Yolanda left the Netherlands to start modeling when she was 16 (per E! News), but her Dutch roots are very much ingrained in her career, parenting, and current lifestyle. And while she has revealed parts of her life on reality TV and in her 2017 memoir "Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease," there are likely some things you don't know about Yolanda Hadid.

Her dad passed away when she was a child

When Yolanda Hadid was just 7 years old, her father, who was in his 30s, tragically died in a car accident. And it changed her life forever. "I remember sitting at the church in my little town and looking to the side and seeing my mom and my brother, my family all in tears," she recalled to Larry King. "In that moment, I made the choice, like, 'okay, I'm the one that has to be tough and strong to take care of all of them.'"

Yolanda's decision to become the breadwinner at such a young age was made without having properly mourned, and she questioned God as to why her father had to leave her. She admitted that his death affected her future relationships with men, too. "I've had this complex my whole life with men that anything abandonment — like if they stopped talking to me, I'd freak out and I'd go back to being 7 years old," she told King.

She was discovered while doing her friend a favor

Yolanda Hadid was an ambitious teen, but modeling wasn't on her radar. "It wasn't that I had the dream of being a model," she told Money. "I never wore makeup. I didn't even know what Vogue or Cosmo or Elle was because it wasn't part of my life." It was completely by chance, or luck, that Yolanda started her modeling career.

As she told Larry King, her friend, a hairstylist, was working a hair show and a model dropped out because she was sick. She asked Yolanda if she could step in for her as she had the long, blonde hair that could be braided around her head. While she initially said no, she ended up going to Amsterdam for the show.

At the show, a famous Dutch fashion designer asked Yolanda if she would walk in it. She remembered telling him, "Well, I've never walked on heels. I've never worn makeup. I don't really know what I'm supposed to do.'" He advised her to "just follow the girls — and that's just what she did. "And so I kind of looked [at] what they were doing, copycatted, and that's the day I was discovered." The person who discovered Yolanda at the show was Eileen Ford, who signed the then 16-year-old to the Ford Modeling Agency (via Allure).

Yolanda Hadid was 'money-driven' even as a teen

Yolanda Hadid described herself as being "money-driven" when speaking with Money. Her drive began when she decided she was going to take care of her mother and brother after her father's death. This meant working any sort of job that paid the bills. "When I was discovered, I was washing dishes in a Chinese restaurant outside of Rotterdam," Yolanda told Allure. She even worked for a time as a hand model, which she told Larry King was the weirdest job she ever had.

Yolanda's work ethic guided her as she started her international career as a fashion model at 16. "I had to live in Paris, Milan, New York, Tokyo and spend three to four months [in each city]," she recalled to Larry King. "[I was] going around with my little portfolio, you know, nine, 10, 11 go-sees a day, show it to the client, and pray for a booking." Given the time, she had no phone. She was also going to her meetings with a paper map and a "roll of quarters" from her agency, as she told Money.

When Yolanda moved to New York, her mother gave her "100 guilders" — former Dutch currency — which came out to be $55 when it was exchanged (per Money). It was a lot of money for her parents, and she was very conscious of living frugally. "I was keeping tally marks for every thousand dollars I was making," she admitted to Money. "I came here to make money and go home and buy my horses and take care of my family and continue my life in Holland."

Her Dutch upbringing almost got her in trouble with the police in the U.S.

As she had grown up in the Netherlands, Yolanda has often had to deal with cultural differences while working in the United States. In an interview with the BUILD Series, she shared a story about one of her early modeling jobs in Santa Monica, California."I was maybe like 18, 19 years old and it was lunchtime, and I just, with my little towel, I didn't want to go back to the motorhome, so I just put a towel over my face and I was taking sun without a top," she said.

A cop came over to the sunbathing model and ordered her to put on a top. Yolanda's mother had never bought her a bathing suit top so she said to him, "I don't have a top. I'm from Holland ... we don't do tops." The police officer started writing her a ticket, saying that she was now in the U.S. and had to follow the rules of this country. The producer of the shoot ended up getting Yolanda out of trouble with the sardonic excuse that she was a "model" and "blonde."

Her Lyme disease was incorrectly diagnosed at first

Since 2012, Yolanda Hadid has been incredibly open and honest about having Lyme disease. However, her doctors initially diagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome. "In the beginning stages you just go, 'Okay, you were taught to believe the doctors are always right,' so whatever the doctors [said I just went] 'Oh I'm fine!'" she explained (via People). But as time passed, she was not getting better and was now dealing with severe migraines and dark circles around her eyes.

Yolanda decided to seek help from doctors in Belgium, and after six weeks, she finally found out she had Lyme disease. It was a moment of validation for Yolanda, as people had been treating her like she was "crazy" for saying she felt something was wrong with her brain. As she finally learned what was causing her health problems, she told People that she was "ready to put on the boxing gloves and fight this out."

Yolanda's journey to treat her disease led her to meet with over 100 doctors and travel to numerous different countries (per "The Dr. Oz Show"). There were many treatments she tried that didn't work for her, including 30 days of IV antibiotics, which only made her feel worse and driving to Mexico for stem cells, which she revealed on "Larry King Now" to be the biggest risk she ever took in her life.

She had contemplated suicide due to her illness

Yolanda's decades-long fight with Lyme disease not only took a toll on her physically but mentally as well. She admitted on "Good Morning America" that she had thoughts about taking her own life to stop the pain, including a low moment she had in Florida. "I remember lying in the ocean and just going, 'Just take me. I just cannot live one more day.'" In that moment of desperation, the image of her three children flashed across her mind and she asked herself what she was thinking. Yolanda said that it was her children who gave her the will to keep fighting. "I remember just waiting for them to get out of school, just to give them a hug and look at them for hope," she told Dr. Oz (via People).

In that same appearance on "The Dr. Oz Show," Yolanda revealed that her kids also helped care for her. "There were nights where Gigi, at three o'clock in the morning, had to drive me to the emergency room because I had such severe inflammation in my brain ... So you know, and not just Gigi driving, Anwar and Bella in the back of the car and the three of us going to the hospital. And, them being there, they learn to take charge and be my strength," she said.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

She takes a holistic approach to treat her symptoms

After trying countless methods to treat her Lyme disease, she found the best method was "an overall holistic protocol," she revealed on "After Show: Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen." This holistic approach started with taking out her breast implants and having dental work, which "really gave [her] immune system the opportunity to start fighting the Lyme." Her treatment plan also involved moving away from Beverly Hills and going back to her farm girl roots. After she left "RHOBH," she bought a farm in Pennsylvania. "I didn't really start healing until I got here away from all the stress and the show and everything that was stressful in my life," she told People. "Doing the gardening and being outside with my animals, that's what fills me up," she continued.

Yolanda has also tried to find balance in her everyday life by having routine, healthy habits. Per British Vogue, her combination of an organic diet, yoga, meditation, and FREmedica's Wave 1 device — which she says "communicates with your cells through LED light for wellness management" while sleeping — was the winning formula to ward off her chronic symptoms.

She raised her children 'very Dutch'

Being Dutch is not only a part of Yolanda Hadid's identity but a way of life that is reflected in her parenting. As she told Harper's Bazaar, she raised Gigi and Bella "very Dutch," which she defined as being "humble, black and white, say it as it is, yet we're very polite."

Yolanda wanted to give her children the kind of childhood she had in the Netherlands, so when she got divorced from their father, she moved them to Santa Barbara, California. Gigi, Bella, and Anwar grew up in a small farmhouse where they rode horses and ran around naked collecting chicken eggs (via BUILD Series). Letting her children be open and natural was also something she took from her own upbringing, as Yolanda said she was raised to love her body and the skin that she was in.

Hadid's grown children still love to ride horses and go to their mother's farm, now in Pennsylvania, when they need a break from their hectic careers. "I'm my children's anchor. I know when too much is too much," she told Harper's Bazaar. "I know when I have to bring them back to the farm and to get them back on their horses, make sure they sleep enough, and just completely disconnect from that whole world."

The values she tried to instill in her children came from her mother

Yolanda Hadid credits her mother for giving her "a great set of tools" and "a great work ethic" as she tried to survive on her own at a young age in a completely new industry and unfamiliar countries (per Money). The importance of hard work is something Yolanda has also tried to instill in Gigi and Bella as she reminds them that "there are a million beautiful girls out there, probably more beautiful than you are. So in order to set yourself apart, you have to be the hardest working girl on set every day" (per Harper's Bazaar).

Yolanda's mother also taught her the importance of family connection. In an interview with Harry Connick Jr., she revealed her "no phones at the dinner table" rule, which was inspired by her mother. Even if she had been out all day, Yolanda said that her mother made sure to connect with her every day at 6 o'clock "where we debated, where we agreed, disagreed, made up." She then did the same thing with her children throughout their lives.

She changed her last name three times

Yolanda Hadid was born Yolanda van den Herik. She became Yolanda Hadid when she married Mohamed Hadid, her first husband and the father of her children. She became Yolanda Foster when she married composer David Foster in 2011. After her second divorce, she contemplated if she should go back to her maiden name.

In an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live," she shared that she ultimately went back to being Yolanda Hadid because of her children (via Entertainment Tonight). "I talked about it with my kids. I never dropped the name Hadid because I have three children by that last name. I asked the kids, 'Should I go back to van den Herik?' and they said, 'No. You're our mommy and we have the same last name.'"

This wasn't the first time that Yolanda expressed her desire not to feel a kind of implicit "separation" from her children. When she became a U.S. citizen in 2013, she recalled having to enter a separate line from her children when they came back to the U.S. after traveling internationally, as she had a Dutch passport at that time (per E! News).

She considers herself a romantic despite her two divorces

Yolanda told Larry King that she's an "ultimate romantic" — she loves love. But as she told People, after her second divorce and Lyme disease diagnosis, she hadn't jumped back into the dating pool as she wanted to "really step into my own power as an independent woman and just feel whole on my own for the first time in, you know, 53 years."

She also took the time to figure out and write down what she wanted in a future partner while resting at her farm in Pennsylvania, and that's when her current love, Joseph Jingoli, quite literally came knocking at her door (via People). According to an interview with The Daily Dish, Yolanda and Jingoli live just 10 miles apart and connected through their mutual love of horses and farm life.

Although Yolanda said she is "very much in love with her boyfriend," she previously admitted to Larry King that she didn't think marriage was in the cards for her again as she hadn't been very successful at it. But, who knows? The third time could be the charm.

Yolanda Hadid proves age is only a number

When Yolanda Hadid was 49, she finally got the chance to have an exciting first experience in the United States — voting. At her citizenship swear-in ceremony, she told E! News, "I've never voted in my life. I left Holland right when I was 16 and I wasn't eligible to vote and when I came here I wasn't allowed to vote."

At age 56, she returned to the runway to walk in the late Virgil Abloh's fall 2020 Off-White collection. Per Vogue, her outfit — a graffitied blazer, slim-fit pants, and geometric sunglasses — was "Parisian chic with a streetwise edge."

Two years prior, when she was asked by Larry King if she would ever model again, she had enthusiastically said she would, and she fulfilled that in a show that featured her own daughters. She wrote in an Instagram post at the time, "Such a surreal experience to be back on the runway after 30 years but now together with my girls."