"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."
Watch the video below for more on the Hadid family: