Backlash To Hilary Duff's Diet Proves We've Really Come So Far

It's encouraging to see evidence that people's attitudes are changing, particularly regarding diet culture and its harmful attitudes around food, weight, and health. While we still have far to go to promote body positivity and reduce shaming, it's nice to see that some commenters online are responding to talk of diets in a different way. The backlash to Hilary Duff's recent admission on the "Lipstick on the Rim" podcast helped illustrate this.

Duff talked about her routine, including what she likes to eat. "I'm obsessed with those cauliflower rounds," Duff said, describing them as "super clean" and explaining that she'll crisp them up in her air fryer and put egg salad, vegan sausage, or avocado on them. She didn't specify them as a breakfast food, per se, and in fact said something that caught listeners' attention. "Sometimes I try to — you know, Gwyneth's in trouble for saying this — but sometimes I try to just drink coffee in the morning and starve off my hunger."

The "Younger" actor referred to backlash Gwyneth Paltrow received when she touted her own diet regimen, which some called a "starvation diet." "I do a nice intermittent fast, I usually eat something about 12," Paltrow said on "The Art of Being Well" podcast, presumably (though not necessarily) referring to noon. "And in the morning, I'll have some things that won't spike my blood sugar. So, I have coffee." The responses to both Paltrow and Duff for promoting what many consider unhealthy eating habits were reassuring to see.

Hilary Duff probably used the wrong word

Though Hilary Duff said, "I wake up really hungry," neither she nor her podcast hosts admitted that, hello, everyone does. That is why the first meal of the day is called breakfast. People watching the viral TikTok video noticed: "I wake up really hungry so I wake up and eat nothing," one comment reads; another argues, "Their hunger cannot be like my hunger. I can't accomplish anything without eating."

Many of the comments questioned Duff saying she'll "starve off [her] hunger." Though it seems likely Duff meant to say "stave off" her hunger, instead of "starve," that isn't necessarily better. To "stave off" something means to delay or fend off something, typically with a negative connotation. Hunger isn't bad, it's normal, especially after not eating for a time (like while you're sleeping). But it's difficult to hear her say "starve" and mention Gwyneth Paltrow, and not think "starvation." As one commenter said, "You shouldn't starve off your hunger! Never."

Some fans may be concerned because, in December 2022, Duff revealed to Women's Health that she'd had an eating disorder when she was 17. Though she says she's now focused on "doing activities that make me feel strong instead of just bettering the outside of my body," it's difficult for fans not to be worried about her wellbeing.

Gwyneth Paltrow had received similar comments to her diet

It's interesting that Hilary Duff acknowledged Gwyneth Paltrow's received backlash, even if she chose to ignore it. The TikTok comments to Paltrow also criticized her seemingly unhealthy relationship to food. "Is starving wellness?" one commenter asked, while another drew a connection to eating disorders. 

Many compared Paltrow to an "almond mom," the term for parents who promote dieting culture to their children. They questioned Paltrow saying she eats bone broth and paleo veggies because "it's really important for me to support my detox." Alarmingly, Paltrow used an IV while recording the podcast, which the actress said was "just a bag of good old-fashioned vitamins." If you need an additional IV for vitamins, then you're clearly not getting enough of them in your food.

Cultural attitudes toward body shapes have changed over the years, particularly since 2000 when obesity became a buzzword. American culture has been steadily embracing more diverse bodies, and we're quicker to be critical of diet culture — as these TikTok comments show. However, there is still further to go: the fact that Duff and Paltrow still feel pressured to diet and stay thin is concerning. At least folks are becoming more attuned to the garbage "wellness" is selling.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).