Hilary Duff: Inside Her Life
"I definitely do think that my life sometimes – and this sounds so cheesy – it's kind of like a fairy tale," says Duff (in New York City on June 10). "I think that I worked really hard, but I think that I'm very, very lucky."
Duff, 17, and Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden, 26 (in Beverly Hills on June 6), were first spotted canoodling in Toronto last July, but the couple remain mum about their romance. Madden collaborated with Duff on three new songs for her upcoming greatest-hits album, Most Wanted, due Aug. 16. "She's an amazing singer," he says.
"We talked a lot about guys, about her past relationships and my relationships. She just has really good stories," says Duff of Heather Locklear, who plays her mom in the comedy The Perfect Man. Says Locklear of Duff (on the film's Brooklyn set last year): "She has a fantastic attitude. She's this very sweet girl who knows she's got this great job."
HITTING THE CARPET
"I'm constantly doing photo shoots and learning about new styles," says the Houston native. "I don't even know if I have my own style because I'm so spazzmatic." At the MTV Movie Awards on June 4 (left), she wore a funky multicolored dress, then opted for Chanel at the June 13 Perfect Man premiere in L.A.
Despite Hollywood's preoccupation with thinness, Duff (surfing in Hawaii) insists she's comfortable with her weight: "I don't listen to what other people say," she tells PEOPLE. "I don't care if someone doesn't think that I'm skinny enough. I try to stay healthy, but I eat what I want. It's all about enjoying life."
"All these people knowing every single word to my songs and holding up signs at a sold-out venue, that's so exciting," Duff (in L.A.) says of performing live. Her 2003 debut, Metamorphosis, sold over 3 million copies, while her self-titled 2004 follow-up went platinum. She'll kick off a U.S. tour on July 12 in L.A.
THE RIGHT STUFF
Duff (at a Washington, D.C., event on June 10) and sister Haylie, 20, co-founded the nonprofit Kids with a Cause in 1997 to help children suffering from poverty and abuse. This summer, Duff will travel to India and Geneva, Switzerland, to help open new branches of the organization.
"She won't go anywhere without me and I won't go anywhere without her," Duff says of Haylie. The sisters (modeling at an L.A. fashion show in February) are coproducing and costarring in the upcoming film Material Girls, in which they play wealthy siblings who lose their fortune.
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
Duff lives with her mom, Susan, in L.A., while dad Bob, a partner in a chain of convenience stores, visits from Houston every few weeks. "Hilary's just like every other child," says Susan. "The best grounding in the world is to give her chores and make her accountable." Among Duff's household duties: doing the dishes and cleaning the pool.
"Hilary's on this kick, and she's got me on it too now, of loving yourself and embracing your flaws," says sister Haylie. But Duff (with Summerland star Jesse McCartney at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in April) admits even she has self-image struggles: "Some days I think I'm beautiful, and other days I think there is nothing that can help me."
An animal lover, Duff (in Hollywood in May) is the youth ambassador for Return to Freedom, a 300-acre wild-horse sanctuary in Lompoc, Calif., and her family has several dogs, including Chihuahuas Little Dog and Lola and border collie Remington. "We take dogs in all the time in my house," says sister Haylie.
Duff (in N.Y.C.), who's taken online Harvard courses since earning her high school diploma last year, turns 18 on Sept. 28. Next up: She'll film Cheaper by the Dozen 2 in Toronto, and she's the new face of the Candie's clothing line for girls. What else lies ahead? "There may come a time when I do something that people might be shocked by," she says.