Why you never hear from Hilary Duff anymore

We fell in love with Hilary Duff as an awkward preteen on Lizzie McGuire (2001-04), but when the hit TV series ended, the relatable star disappeared from the spotlight? Sure, there was the tween movie here or there and a guest spot on Law and Order: SVU, but that's nothing compared to her Disney days. Seriously, what has Duff been doing? We've got the dish.

She pressed pause to be a mom

Duff and then-husband Mike Comrie welcomed a son, Luca Cruz Comrie, in March 2012. A 24-year-old Duff tweeted the great news: "Wow I can't believe I have a baby!" But the glow of new motherhood faded a bit when Duff realized the effect that being a young mom can have one's Hollywood career.

"I feel like I was judged for having a baby too soon, and getting married too soon," she told The Talk (via Us Weekly,) "and now I'm pigeonholed for being a 'mom.'" 

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Duff said, "Becoming a mother—that whole process is so special and so magical really, but it's also very isolating, and I think a lot of the time, you feel like you should have all the answers…you put so much pressure on yourself, and it's really kind of a lonely place to be, so I think women and families need to boost each other up instead of, you know, bully one another."

In order to manage her stardom and motherhood, Duff now says she has no problem taking breaks from Tinseltown. Speaking with Redbook in 2017, she said, "I'm not working right now, and at first I stressed about that, like, 'Oh, I shouldn't stay still this long.' And that's ridiculous. I have a child; it's totally fine to not be slammed all the time. It feels really good to not be on someone else's schedule—besides Luca's. I'm basically his chauffeur!"

Her pivot to music didn't stick

In the early 2000s, Duff used her Lizze McGuire success to transition to music, which, according to Vulture, resulted in a few lackluster contributions to a Disney compilation album and the soundtrack to a movie called Santa Claus Lane

From there, Duff's independent singing career actually took off. Metamorphosis (2003) and Most Wanted (2005) both climbed to the top of the Billboard 200 chart. In 2007, Duff's Dignity reached No. 3 on the chart, but it would be almost a decade before her next album of new material, Breathe In. Breathe Out, hit the charts.

Critics were unimpressed with her comeback. "This candy coated mediocrity is what is expected out of the artists and also encouraged," wrote Aaron Cooper for Bearded Gentlemen Music, calling her album "bland, generic, and dense." 

After that lackluster reception, it's no wonder Duff told Buzzfeed in 2017, "I don't have any plans for new music or a tour this year. But there's always next year!" Maybe she's just letting her music career…breathe?

She dissed Mickey Mouse

Duff found herself on the awkward side of a viral moment when video footage of her unenthusiastically air-drawing Mickey Mouse ears for a Disney Channel promo hit the web. No, Duff wasn't the only former Disney kid to get wrapped up in #WandGate, but her performance stood out for the sheer inability to GAF take after take.

After the video–and the subsequent GIFs spawned from it–made the rounds online, Duff opened up about the now-infamous moment to Buzzfeed: "So we had to do the thing and then they put it in CGI, the mouse ears. And then they made us do it like 900 times. And I think I like lost all personality at that point. Plus, I was, like, a pubescent teen—I was like, 'What are they making me do, this is invisible!'" She was a good sport about it and even re-created the moment for the interview.

While it's nice that Duff has a sense of humor about the whole thing, we can't help but think that one or two producers probably looked at that footage and thought, "Nope, seems like drama we don't need."

She buried her nose in her books

In 2011, Duff published a young adult novel called Elixir. It's the story of Clea Raymond, a young photojournalist who teams up with a handsome stranger to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance. It became a New York Times Best Seller that Duff turned into a trilogy with installments Devoted and True

She hopes the books will become movies one day, telling MTV News (via The Hollywood Reporter) that she wrote the first book with a cinematic adaptation in mind. "There have been a few people interested in buying the rights which is very flattering, but if the right person came along, I'd definitely hope that would happen," Duff said.

As of this writing, no film option of the Elixir trilogy has been announced, and Duff hasn't written anything outside of the series. It seems her gamble on spending time writing instead of acting has yet to pan out.

Her embarrassing Halloween faux pas

In 2016, Duff found herself among the many celebrities who have inadvertently offended a bunch of people with their offensive Halloween costumes. Duff dressed up as a pilgrim and her then-boyfriend, personal trainer Jason Walsh, dressed up as a Native American. Together, they attracted the outrage of the internet–and that just so happened to be the night they officially stepped out in public as a couple, according to Entertainment Tonight.

They both issued heartfelt apologies, with Duff tweeting, in part, "I am SO sorry to people I offended with my costume," and Walsh writing in a since-deleted Instagram, "I only have admiration for the indigenous people of America." 

Not that this is related, but Duff and Walsh broke up less than two months later. For Halloween in 2017, Duff went way more low-key, avoiding any big Hollywood costume parties and opting for just a pair of bunny ears and some drawn-on whiskers. Now that, we're pretty sure, is related.

She does a lot of behind-the-scenes philanthropy

While Duff's career has certainly taken some unintended detours, there is one area where it's clear that she traded the spotlight willingly: philanthropy. According to Seventeen, Duff has been working with Blessings in a Backpack, an organization that provides food to American children since 2005. She also worked with USA Harvest to provide meals for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and she serves as a charter member of Kids with a Cause, an organization that aims to find solutions for children who suffer from "poverty, lack of education, or health-related issues."

"I realized that hunger is America's dirty little secret, but no kid should ever have to worry about getting a meal," Duff said.

She came off as petty in her feud with Lindsay Lohan

Back in the early aughts, all eyes were on the seemingly ever-present feud between Duff and actress Lindsay Lohan. According to Popsugar, it all started with Duff's on-again-off-again relationship with pop star Aaron Carter, who initially ditched Duff for Lohan after he got "a little bored."

This led to a curiously passive-aggressive girlfight during which Duff and Lohan crashed each other's movie premieres and shaded each other in interviews. In a particularly cringe-worthy episode of this beef, Duff inadvertently involved Lohan's then-8-year-old brother, Cody. According to MTV, Duff stood by—and possibly instigated—as her then-boyfriend, Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden, refused to sign an autograph for Cody until he fetched his mother, Dina, and got her to apologize for Lindsay's behavior toward Duff.

Both Duff and Lohan eventually moved on from Carter, and Duff said in 2007 that she and Lohan have put the feud to rest, telling People, "We are both adults and whatever happened, happened when we were young. It's over." 

Though Duff has obviously avoided the questionable choices Lohan made later in life, we have to believe that in the early to mid-2000s when the aforementioned drama was in full swing, Duff likely lost some business opportunities over her real-life mean girl image.

Is she trying to avoid Aaron Carter?

Speaking of Carter, the "I Want Candy" singer interjected himself back into Duff's life in March 2014 when he inexplicably declared that he was still in love with her. "Don't be that stupid d*** that loses the love of your life forever. Like me… I'll spend the rest of my life trying to better myself to get back to her. I don't care what ANY of you think," Carter wrote in a since-deleted tweet (via People.) When asked if he was referring to Duff, Carter replied, "sure am."

A few months later, Duff finally addressed Carter's unrequited tweet, politely telling Buzzfeed that she didn't know how to feel about it, considering, you know, she was married with a baby. Duff said Carter's message was "so weird," and a month later, during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live (via E! News), she declared the whole situation "uncomfortable."

Maybe Duff decided to keep a low profile to avoid drawing even more unwanted affection from Carter, or maybe she just didn't want to risk resurrecting drama with Lohan. We may never know.

You must not watch TV Land

Anyone who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s thinks of TV Land as the channel their dad fell asleep to while watching I Love Lucy reruns. But nowadays, TV Land actually runs original programming, like the hit Betty White show Hot in Cleveland (2010-15) and Duff's millennial-focused dramedy, Younger (2015-).

Despite earning critical praise from major outlets such as The Washington Post, who described Duff's series as "part Sex and the City and part Gilmore Girls," Younger continues to fly under the radar. However, as of this writing, the show just kicked off its fourth season, and its first episode was the "highest-rated and most-watched installment," according to Variety. Every back episode of the show was recently licensed by the streaming service, Hulu, meaning there will soon be an all new, potentially more youthful and more Duff-acquainted audience for Younger to reach.

So don't count The Duffster out yet, and now that we think of it, don't actually start calling her "The Duffster." That probably won't help her out at all.