Hilary Duff: ‘It’s terrible that skinny is beautiful, there’s a version that’s unreachable’

Hilary Duff did an interview with Women’s Health about a week and a half ago that I’m only just seeing now. That’s the thing about Hilary Duff, she hustles so hard for coverage that she ends up getting ignored when she says something interesting/controversial. Hilary has been an outspoken advocate for body positivity, she’s like Demi Lovato in that way. However Hilary said a bunch of stuff to Women’s Health that was short-sighted, I’ll call it. Incidentally, Women’s Health rephrased an interview they did with Hilary to make it sound like a first person essay, which is bizarre. That may have altered the way her words come across, so some of her responses might be misrepresented.

Being a new mom was one of the happiest times of my life, but how I felt about my body really sucked… I also held onto all the “baby weight” for a long time. I wasn’t one of those women who just could nurse and lose the weight. Some people bounce back and don’t have to deal with that, and that’s wonderful for them. But for me, it was so hard to connect with my body again once I had a baby.

It wasn’t until my mind adjusted to not caring as much that I started to figure it all out. I realized that I am never going to be the same again, and that’s okay. I’ve learned to be proud of what my body does for me, and what it did while I was pregnant with my son.

Now, I’m happy to say that I have a pretty healthy relationship with my body. Of course, I’m 5’2″, so any kind of weight that I gain, I see it right away. And sure, I want to look good in my jeans, and I want to feel and look good. But I don’t need to be a super-skinny person. I’m normal, and I have a good relationship with food and indulging myself while being healthy and giving my body what it needs.

It’s hard for women every day, no matter what, to love their bodies. There’s pressures just from your friends and how they look, and trying to keep up.

It’s terrible that skinny is beautiful. There’s a new version of skinny that’s just…unreachable. It’s a really bad look. If we can just try to celebrate being individuals, and try to feel good instead of trying to fit in, I think that would be huge.

I have been trying to take more time to set my intention for the day and take a few deep breaths in the morning. It’s helped me be a more patient and understanding person not only with others, but with myself, too. To be kinder to myself.

[From Women’s Health]

I think I know what Hilary means about skinny being equated with beautiful and how that ideal is becoming smaller and more unreachable, however she phrased it oddly and could have been more inclusive in her message. I’m sure it’s much different in her industry and that she’s talking about extremes though. This highlights how celebrities get stuck in their own perspective and try to apply that to just about every other situation. Hilary could have hedged a little more in some of these responses, but her core message is good – be gentle to yourself and appreciate where you are now. A lot of us struggle with body image and she described that well.



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photos credit: WENN and Instagram/Hilary Duff

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45 Responses to “Hilary Duff: ‘It’s terrible that skinny is beautiful, there’s a version that’s unreachable’”

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  1. Suki says:

    I think it’s best or desirable, if people simply stopped commenting on weight. I agree that there is a version of skinny that is unreachable for most women but that doesn’t factor in that teens can naturally be very skinny (I was), and of course women who are ill and poorly can often drop weight and shouldn’t feel that they are ‘ugly’ because of circumstances beyond their control.

    • Suki says:

      To add on, I feel that the chasing of a skinny body is many women trying to reclaim being a teen and being stuck in that cycle. It is in early adulthood and beyond that the skinny idea is hard to keep at, when it comes naturally to young girls/teens.

      • Kate says:

        Thank you! If I hear one more person equating their goal weight with their high school weight my eyes are going to roll out of my head. You’re still growing in high school!! Just let your body be what it is right now and listen to it and respect its needs and stop trying to force it to look like someone else. Hilary is right on, if you can learn to stop comparing and putting yourself down and you will be much happier!

      • Slowsnow says:

        @Suki Which is replicated by the ads with barely teen-age women sporting mature looks, but also the catwalk. So unhealthy.

    • MagicalDay says:

      I wonder if the body trend (it changes clearly) is what drives the food like substance industry, albeit dietetic or calorie laden? Foods in their natural state satisfy hunger and tend to give us the genetic body we are meant to have. Since I stopped eating anything processed (go ahead and hate on my “self control”, but it really was a long process, I grew up in a food desert) I have zero problems with weight or loving my body AS IS. ( I’m not sure if my body is “in”, prolly not, I don’t have a gigantic tush fake or real. I’m neither skinny, fat nor “ripped” ) I have a full life; i’m busy , no time to obsess if I’m this enough or that enough. I just am- and I attribute it to stable eating/exercise.

  2. Darla says:

    It’s not new. When I was young the ideal was Ally McBeal. Years later of course, Calista (who I LOVE this is not shade on her), did say that she was anorexic at the time. But in the 90’s that’s what everyone was supposed to look like, in my admittedly white world anyway.

    • Slowsnow says:

      True. I am generation X too (?) and the heroin chic was pretty much to goal. Kate Moss was the epitome of that. It was even more cruel than the top model trend because if you were skinny with curves, which I was at the time, you still felt out of it. I move past it very quickly though luckily.

      • Darla says:

        Yep! Early Gen X. Kate Moss and heroin chic too, you are right.

      • MagicalDay says:

        Ha ha, I had a big butt and theighs during the “waif” era- I would never have predicted I’d be “in” about 20 years too late! (hell I’m old now and don’t give any Fs about trend bodies)

    • Film Production Manager says:

      So true, even now as I hit 40, I am still desperately trying to get my (middle age, 3 kids) body as thin as 23 year old Gigi Hadid and I hate that, that’s probably never going to happen. I completely resonate with Hillary Duff when she says “There’s a new version of skinny that’s just…unreachable” And yes, there may be all this hoopla about models like Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence and #bodypositive, but I am always going to only feel good about myself when people say those magic words “you’ve got so thin” 🙁

      • RedOnTheHead says:

        Film Production, your comment really struck me. I suspect most of us have gone through what you’re going through, at least to some extent. I sure have. Your comment touched me enough that I want to share a story with you. My lifelong BFF and I are around 60. She’s always been tall and thin naturally. Just her body type. As the menopausal years came on, she got more and more fixated on her weight. It was a gradual thing, gradual enough that I didn’t really think anything was out of the ordinary. She began going to the gym religiously years ago and has never once let up. She participates in a public weekly weigh in at the gym…and freaks out if her weight creeps up by 5 lbs or less. Her eating habits are so rigid I don’t know how she does it. She simply will not EVER allow herself to have a treat. Trying to dine out with her is a chore because we have to go somewhere she can select the most calorie restricted food. She’s constantly sending me pics of Amal Clooney or one of the “models” with little comments like “hate her”. She doesn’t really hate them but there’s an underlying theme there. She has her body fat percentage so low that her face just sags and droops. There’s no fat to support the skin structure and we lose fat in our faces anyway as part of the natural aging process. She does everything by the book for fitness and nutrition and yet she looks awful. Haggard and tired and exhausted. All of the time. Her life is consumed by continuing to fit into the same jeans she wore in high school. I could go on but this is too long already.

        She’s a beautiful and wonderful person with a heart as big and bright as the sun. But the fixation on remaining a size 2 has taken over her life. It’s heartbreaking for those of us that love her to watch. There has to be more to life than making your life about looking like a 20 yr old model. Just food for thought.

    • Kitten says:

      True. Now the ideal has shifted to a more curvy body type and the hip-to-waist ration is all the rage. People say skinny is unattainable but I think the Kim Kardashian body type is also very much unattainable unless you have the money to pay for BBL.

      And that is NOT to say that there aren’t women who are naturally curvy, it’s just to say that while most people can become skinny through extreme and even not-extreme measures, we can’t change our body type to give us a smaller waist or wider hips. Well, not unless we can afford the surgery.

      • Slowsnow says:

        The number of youtube videos to develop a “booty” and an hourglass figure… 🙄 It’s the new impossible.
        However, the skinny trend still lives on.
        In an age of fight for more diversity and intersectionality, we are finally aware of other body types of other cultures or ethnicities but I find that all of them tend to create a unique body type that shames all the rest.
        I even saw a youtube video of a black dude explaining that being skinny is ok (!) and that some guys like it! Talk about a reversal of values/culture (for me, being white, middle-class and generation heroin chic, ahem X).
        I love watching videos with fitness, cardio, hiit exercises and it’s unveiled a whole new world for me.

      • Littlestar says:

        The new* body ideal is the Kim K/Nicki Minaj/hip hop video vixen look; which is pretty unattainable save for those naturally blessed or who are willing/able to have a BBL. I grew up surrounded by people who worshipped huge butts/tiny waists (meanwhile mainstream early 2000s culture pushed extremely thin) and I don’t think either was healthy; I remember being around people who said they didn’t care what a woman’s face looked like as long as she had a large butt. Girls/women who didn’t have those proportions were criticized, told to gain weight (as if weight gain would only settle on hips/butt/breasts, no tummies allowed). Told men didn’t want thin women. That’s what I grew up hearing. Now we have Instagram and Kardashians to promote these extreme body proportions as standard. Anyone see Kylie’s new butt? The girl has been stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. I won’t even get into the weird fetish/appropriation the Kardash/Jenner klan has with buying bodies more typical to black women’s bodies. I’m just saying that the old skinny is out and now it’s the very extreme hourglass. Also that holding women to a singular body standard is ridiculous, we’re beautiful in our diversity.

        *New to mainstream American culture.

      • perplexed says:

        The Kardashian body type is unattainable because they have butt implants. They were not born with those butts. It’s too obvious in their cases.

        When skinny people diet to individual extremes for their body type and claim they’re naturally that thin, it’s not really possible to know if they’re lying or not. I didn’t know Calista Flockhart dieted in unhealthy ways until she confirmed it. It seemed plausible that she could naturally be that thin for her body type. But in the case of the Kardashians, their so misshapen it’s obvious the proportions of their butts are a big lie. The misshapen-ness makes me wonder if people in real life really want to look that misshapen. There was a certain symmetry to Calista Flockhart’s body that I can see would make more people go to extremes to achieve it whereas the asymmetry of the Kardashian backside in relation to the rest of their shapes makes me think that less people want to look like that. I think it’s a certain symmetry that people like to achieve, and in that sense, I can see people going “wtf” when they see Khloe Kardashian from the back (like when people go “wtf” when they see inflatable duck lips).

      • carol says:

        The ideal beauty these days has become so extremely unattainable that I have given up on trying. I’m five foot two inches and I fluctuate between 110 and 120, so thin but not at all model thin. I’ve started going ot the gym so maybe I’ll get a bit slimmer and/or gain muscle definition. BUt regardless I will never look like a tall and skinny model or a kim. Whatever. I dont have trouble picking up guys the way I look now so I feel like ‘this is me, take it or leave it’. I’m slowly getting better at just wearing what I want instead of alwasy dressing for men, not wearing makeup or shaving my legs if I dont feel like it etc. I mean, if he doesn’t know how to locate a clitoris and doesnt have a body like a greek god, then why should I be expected to look like an adult film star while being able to suck the nails off a board? Time for men to step up thier game before we all decide to date other women.

      • Darla says:

        Well you all bring up really good points. I have a natural hourglass shape ( I do not have those kardashian butts though! nor want one), so I guess for a long time I felt I was young in the wrong decade. But OTOH, to be honest, there have always been men who appreciate an hourglass figure. But as for cultural pressure, you’re right, it’s just as awful now but in a different wway.

  3. Red says:

    I think we all know what she meant. She’s not saying women who are skinny are not beautiful. But let’s be real: that body type is the most desirable for the majority of women and for men who are attracted to women. We look down upon those who are not skinny. We say they are unhealthy or concern troll. Most men won’t even give women who aren’t super thin a chance. My body will never be the shape of a VS model. When I was younger, that was a hard pill to swallow. Skinny privilege is a thing.

    • Tvtg says:

      I love this response. Skinny privilege is indeed real and I can’t how people are like the solution is just be confident no not being skinny often means more negative outcomes than you would have anyways

      • Pandakeeper says:

        I think ‘skinny privilege’ is regional. Having worked in entertainment for a long time, yes, it def applies in that industry.

        I now live in a mid-size city that is only 8 hours away from LA. I am almost always one of the skinnier people at the jobs I’ve worked, social gatherings, shopping and such. But I don’t feel I get treated any differently. I think the well fed curvy look is much more “Privileged’ in most places.

    • Moneypenny424 says:

      So true. I was a chubby kid/teenager and became a slim (at times too skinny) adult. Having seen it both ways, I can tell you the privilege is real.

  4. laulau says:

    I think she was just talking about skinny being THE standard and misspoke.
    I’m glad that there is finally, slowly an increasingly diverse view of beautiful in the ads I’m forced to see walking in Toronto but after that stupid incel terrorist I have been increasingly judgey of all ads in public spaces. When the overwhelming theme of ads is “you deserve this” and the overwhelming image used to sell these things that are deserved is young, thin, conventionally attractive girls/women, it starts to feel like oppressive propaganda that’s adding to an overall entitlement crisis.

    • damejudi says:

      I think she misspoke, too. I struggle with my weight, and I do look back wistfully and remember my size 4 self. But memory is selective, and I tend to forget that my size 4 self was a workaholic who survived on a bagel-a-day and all the diet pepsi I could drink diet. Oh, and I was in a miserable romantic relationship.

      My current size 10/12 self just enjoyed my almond milk/blueberry/banana smoothie for breakfast. Working on work/life balance, and not in a relationship. Size 4 did not guarantee me a problem-free, blissful existence, and my current shape doesn’t mean that I’m unattractive and destined for lonely loserville.

      • Kate says:

        “Size 4 did not guarantee me a problem-free, blissful existence” – THIS. IS. KEY.

  5. Lexter says:

    Im a bunch taller and heavier than her but seem to have a similar shape… thick thighs, short fleshy arms… I love watching her on Younger .. one reason is because it gives me an idea of what styles of trendy clothes might suit me 😊

    Love Hilary!

  6. Slowsnow says:

    I think she phrased it clumsily but I get her point. If “that” kind of skinny wasn’t unattainable you wouldn’t have so many cases of anorexia and cocaine consumption amongst models who are hired when they are teen-agers and then asked to keep the same figure all the way. It’s a job to stay that shape and most don’t manage to. I was shocked when I saw a before and after picture of Adam Levine’s wife, a Victoria Secret Model who had a beautiful body and was asked to drastically drop weight. Same with Gigi and Kaïa Gerber. And I would bet a lot of money on their weight loss having been… unhealthy, to be kind.

    Also this focus on skinny comes with clothes not being tailored anymore and most trendy clothes shops such as Zara or H&M having poorly tailored clothes. We look at sizes instead of shapes. Most of us are skinnier than we think, only our hips are larger or we have a little belly, or even a higher bum. Which is really hard to manage on those very vague sizes that keep changing.

    • NightOwl says:

      Interesting insight about clothes not being as well tailored anymore – you are spot on! I’ve noticed too that so much of the ready-to-wear clothing does not hang properly on people. Makes such a difference to get a few darts in place or a proper hem or cuff adjustment.

    • carol says:

      Gigi’s body was ‘goals’ before she lost all that weight!!! I loved her womanly thighs. Who cares what men like anymore, I’m keeping my womanly thighs for myself!

  7. Chaine says:

    I know what she means about being short… ten pounds and my clothes won’t fit any more. It’s frustrating.

  8. HeyThere! says:

    To me, strong is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. Kindness is beauty. I have changed my definition of beautiful.

    • MagicalDay says:

      I posted above that eating well gave me an aesthetic beyond externals. Also I’m “yoga fit” , and that’s seeing clearly that we all come in different shapes and sizes, so I’v learned to let go of ideals. I’m certainly not “obese” but came from an obese culture and family- it’s a long process to value other that body trend!

  9. Lucy says:

    I still remember all the rumors about her eating disorders back in the day…quite frankly, assuming those were true, it makes sense that she’s saying this. I’m glad that she now has a healthy relationship with her body and with food. I can tell she means it just by looking at her.

  10. perplexed says:

    She said skinny, not thin. I think there’s a difference between the two words. I think runners are thin, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe them as skinny. Skinny to me implies bony or scrawny. She also said there’s a version of skinny that is unreachable, which isn’t a description that appears invalid to me, when it turns out years later that models admit they used cocaine and various eating disorders to stay skinny according to the unreachable standard. So I don’t think what she said is troublesome.

    Also, it’s very rare that I see skinny, bony people in real life. I see thin people all the time, but skinny seems much rarer to me (where the thighs are so thin they look like a wishbone), at least if you’re over 21 anyway. At some point, even those naturally skinny people gain a bit of weight in the arms and thighs. In real life, I see people in their 20s and 30s who are attractively thin, but not people who have the very skinny bodies where you’re fooled into think you’re seeing pre-tween bones. So I don’t see how anybody should be troubled by Duff’s words. If she had said thin or slender, I can understand why people might not like her words. But she clearly said a version of skinny that is unreachable.

    • Moneypenny424 says:

      I know what you mean. I use “slim v. thin” or “slim v. skinny” as my distinction though.

  11. Chrissyms says:

    I understand what she is saying. There is a certain Hollywood skinny that honestly looks unattainable unless one is living a very strict lifestyle (aka eating disorder). I feel like there is a very noticeable difference between that and naturally thin. When I was growing up yes it was ally mcbeal and the girls on friends even as a skinny teen I was not that skinny …maybe not worded the best but I get what she is saying

    • MagicalDay says:

      Remember when Jessica Simpson got super skinny? I’m not an huge fan and never watched her reality show, but I remember when a stylist told her to be a size 2, but she’s naturally an euro size 12. That whole waif era really messed up a lot of beautiful women. Dieting is the death path- why do women fall for it??

  12. Sherry says:

    I get where she’s coming from. My body is more like Jessica Simpson and when I was younger, my body resembled what she looked like during her Dukes of Hazzard days. Now, at 55 and after 3 kids, I look more like when she’s been on a frito and margarita binge.

    My 20 year old daughter on the other hand, has the body I always wanted. Her body is very similar to Audrey Hepburn. That was never going to happen for me. Ever.

    On a gossipy note – Does anyone else think she’s throwing a bit of shade at Nicole Richie, who is known for her super thin body?

    • Agenbiter says:

      Audrey Hepburn didn’t always have a body like Audrey Hepburn …

      • MagicalDay says:

        I thought Audrey Hep was starved in the war and never recovered? Did she arrive in hollywood normal sized and that was a tale?

    • Jen says:

      Nah I’m more inclined to think she’s talking of her past self or the teens she sees today in hollyweird

      I never thought she was into her ex that much

    • Jen says:

      I always get the feeeling she’s one of those who didn’t love spotlight that much plus she’s constantly working so I’m sure she’s relieved to not be in the headlines that much

  13. xdanix says:

    Eh, I don’t think Hilary meant any harm by her comments. I don’t read any badness in there. She could have chosen her words more carefully, but there’s a lot of truth to what she’s saying for a lot of people, and if she’d maybe phrased it a little better, I think the truth of what she’s saying would be what people would be focusing on.

    Remember, she got very, VERY unhealthily thin when she was (I think) a teenager- to my knowledge, I don’t think she’s ever come out and said she had an eating disorder at that time (though I do remember an interview with her afterwards where she discussed her sister sitting her down and saying that she was really scared for her), but if you look at pictures of her at that time it’s pretty clear something was wrong. She wasn’t just very thin, she was downright underweight-looking.

    So I get it, when she talks about a version of thin that is unreachable. She would know- both that it’s NOT naturally, healthily reachable for most people, and the terrible cost to your mental and physical health if you push past that to attain it anyway. I think it’s just really good to see her happy and healthy and ok with who she is.

  14. FHMom says:

    I don’t think her words are offensive. You are born with a certain body type, and while you may be able to alter it slightly through exercise, your basic body type can’t change. When waif like bodies were popular (think Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow) it was an unattainable look for most women. Same idea applies to a Kardashian type body. Unless you are willing to go under the knife, it’s not attainable. That’s all she’s saying.

  15. Egla says:

    I like her words. No need to dissect them. We should work on expanding the message. I have a ten years old niece. She is growing fast. She can wear my clothes and shoes now and is not stopping growing. She is 52 kg right now and the other day asked me what exercises she should do to loose some weight. Sure first I asked her who told her or where she got it from that she has to loose weight. She is still a child and really she was asking questions that she might have heard around and not really getting the meaning but I am afraid that she will get taller and fuller. She will have breasts and judging by our family history she will be tall and voluptuous very soon so I am scared what trick the skinny trend might play with her mind and what she will do to loose that weight. I try to lead by example and eat Nutella and bread in front of her showing that it’s ok to eat whatever. But I am on the thin side and she will see her body changing very soon. Hope to make her like herself

    • perplexed says:

      She followed up immediately by saying that “There’s a version of skinny that’s …unreachable.”

      I find it a little strange and disconcerting that her words would be parsed for not being clear enough. We all know the version of skinny she’s talking about — that version that even already skinny models have to diet themselves down to. Cindy Crawford’s daughter was always slim/slender/thin. I don’t remember that kid ever being more than slim. But now she’s even skinnier (as an already slim teenager) and the conclusion we draw from that is she’s dieting at 16 or 17 years old to meet an unattainable industry standard that other young people view on Instagram.