Alix Earle is looking back on a difficult time for her family.
The TikToker recently opened up about the day in 2008 when she learned about her father Thomas "TJ" Earle's affair with her now-stepmom Ashley Dupré, who at the time had recently been involved in the sex scandal with then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. And as she recalled, it came about as paparazzi swarmed her family's New Jersey home.
"I remember the day very clearly," Alix said on the Sept. 20 episode of the Call Her Daddy podcast. "Paparazzi had shown up at my house and my mom quickly kind of got me and my sister out of the house over to our cousins. We stayed there for a few days and I had no idea what was going on. I didn't know they were paparazzi. I thought news broadcasters were interviewing the neighbors."
While Alix was too young at the time to understand why the media was suddenly interested in her family, the influencer learned the truth online a few years later.
"It was in like fourth grade. I started to kind of hear commentary from people and I had an iPad at the time," she said. "I'm Googling my family and all of a sudden, I see that the past two years of my life had been a lie."
The 22-year-old continued, "My dad had an affair with someone who was well-known for her job having sexual relations with high-class people and one of them was even the governor of New York. She was very well-known from that and in turn, my dad's affair became a very public situation."
Alix said that upon learning what had happened, she "felt like my world crashed down in that moment."
And the influencer credits her mom Alisa for shielding her and her younger sister Ashtin, now 20, from a lot of the tension within the family at the time.
"I didn't know the severity of what had happened between my parents because my mom was super, super mature about it and didn't speak to us about it and didn't put that stress that she was going through onto us," she noted. "I kind of figured it out myself and then I proceeded to deal with it myself."
Ultimately, Alisa and TJ broke up, with the construction company owner's romance with Ashley later blossoming. They tied the knot in 2013.
"When my stepmom started to hang around with my dad after he had moved out, she came into his life and we were introduced to her, which was super weird," Alix explained. "And I was told that I had to be respectful to this woman and we had to be nice to her. I wanted to rip her head off. It was very weird because I felt like I was a 10-year-old having to be more mature than someone 20, 30 years older than me."
And she also had to deal with the continued fallout of the affair, noting that some kids weren't allowed to come to her house because of it.
"The parents would kind of tell my mom and she would tell me kind of the harsh truth of why this can't happen," she said. "She would have to sit me down and be like, 'They don't really respect us.'"
Alix also recalled a feeling humiliated in class after her connection to Ashley and Spitzer's sex scandal—he ultimately resigned over the affair in March 2008—was brought up.
"My teacher in high school was talking about this governor's affair and said exactly what had happened—who it had happened with—and like looked me in the eyes while this was going on in class," the Hot Mess With Alix Earle podcast host said. "I remember my classmates looking at me and like, laughing because this was about my family. And this was something he was literally teaching in history class."
She added, "I left school bawling my eyes out. I was so embarrassed."
But these days Alix has overcome these obstacles. In fact, her family—which includes TJ and Ashley's kids Izabel, 10, Penelope, 8, and Thomas, 6—is now "well blended," according to Alix, who added, "They get along so well."
Alix has spoken about the scandal surrounding Ashley and her family before. In August, she told ELLE she and her stepmom are "super close, and we've gotten to such a good point."
"Whatever's happened in the past," she added, "we've all gotten past it as a family."