Hilary Duff on the Most Challenging Parts of Teenage Fame: Bullies, Isolation, Body Image

Hilary Duff, her sister, and her mother packed up and moved from Texas to Los Angeles so the girls could start auditioning when Duff was just 6 years old. Their worlds turned upside down when she booked Lizzie McGuire. All of a sudden, life was drastically different. But not all of the changes were good.

Hilary Duff rebelled a little as a teenager, but didn’t want to ’embarrass’ herself

Duff was home-schooled from the age of 8. Her parents were strict, but not overly so.

“There was always a seriousness around my work,” she told Cosmopolitan in 2020. “My mom didn’t let me get away with sh*t. She was like,‘You’re not supporting this family, we’re not using your money, so you’re not calling the shots,’ and I was really grateful for that.”

While she was grateful for the structure, Duff did her fair share of sneaking out and partying.

“It’s not like I didn’t sneak off and party sometimes and get drunk,” she said. “I definitely did all of those things. But I feel like I’ve always been a well-balanced person, and always had a sense of ‘I don’t want to embarrass myself.’”

That sense has kept Duff’s head on straight for the entirety of her career.

“I have a lot of self-awareness and I’ve had it for a long time,” she said. “I don’t think you can pin that on, ‘She had a great mother’ or ‘She had a solid this or that.’ I mean, I did and I’m grateful, but the fame I had can outgrow any strong family you’ve come from. I think it is who you are inside.”

The hardest parts of being famous as a teenager for Hillary Duff

When the publication asked Duff what her most prominent memory is from teenage fame, she said: “Isolation… and the pressure of being a role model.”

Not only was Duff lonely, but she also had to deal with her fair share of bullying in her late teens.

“Girls are mean,” she said. “I experienced normal bullying like everybody else.”

She called that time “really rough” to be in the public eye.

“And that definitely triggered a bad relationship with food,” she said. “I had really poor body image, I guess.”

Duff spoke about the challenges tied to constantly being photographed and having her body scrutinized in the press.

“It does suck to be photographed all the time,” she said. “The headlines are like, ‘Hilary Duff debuts baby body,’ and I’m like, ‘No, no, no! I’m not debuting anything!’”

‘I wake up very happy’

Despite the tough points in her teen years, Duff considers herself lucky to not have a “lowest point.”

“I’m so lucky to say I haven’t had a low point that’s lasted long enough to recall it being the worst time,” she said. “I would say my parents’ divorce [when she was 18] was really hard.”

As an adult, Duff says her own divorce in 2016 was also “really hard.” But she’s always been the optimistic type.

“I’ve had a lot of things to overcome but I feel very lucky to have not had to deal with depression,” she said. “I wake up happy. I’ve always been like, ‘Today’s the day! What are we doing?!’”

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