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 Sex does not equal growth ...



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 The Lindsay Lohan thing ...



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 "Do they think that I'm schizo or something to make up something like that?" ...





 Hilary Duff's Busy Year

 Hilary On The Set Of The "Fly" Video Shoot

 Hilary Duff and Aaron Carter 12.23.03

 Hilary, Haylie And Clay Aiken At McDonald's World Children's Day 11.09.04



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— by Abbey Goodman

We get it, Hilary Duff, you're nice.

You're the only sunny blond pop star still standing, you're close to your family, you make sweet and safe movies and music for the tween set, and even when you wear so-brown-it's-black nail polish and a Motörhead concert tee, you still don't pull off pouty.

  Photos: Hilary Duff On The Set Of The "Fly" Video

 "Fly"
Hilary Duff
(Hollywood Records)
The thing is, with perhaps the exception of Avril Lavigne and Lindsay Lohan, no one's complaining. The story of teen star tiring of her girl-next-door image only to affect a more extreme, sexy one for the second album is played out by now. Ditto the "girl on the brink of self-destruction" and the "out-of-control party girl." But what is the media to do if a chart-topping teen star doesn't offer much in the way of tabloid fodder or not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman angst or a dark side simmering beneath her seemly surface? And what if she also doesn't conform to the other extreme stereotype, that of a corny goody two-shoes who regular teenagers can't or don't want to relate to?

Ask Hilary Duff.

She's charming and adorable, outspoken without being preachy, a good girl without being unrealistically restrained. But mostly, she's a regular 17-year-old. And while that makes it tough to slap on her the "perfect good girl" or "dirty bad girl" label that inevitably gets assigned to all female pop stars, it's also what makes her so popular.

"In some magazines, they almost want me to deny what I am, and I never do that because I really am comfortable with myself," she says. "I am a good girl. I'm not going to try to prove to anybody else that I'm not this clean-cut type of person, because I am. I'm not crazy out there partying all the time. When I have time off, I like to go out to clubs sometimes, but that's not a 'bad girl' thing to do, that's just fun. And I definitely don't dress in turtlenecks, but because I don't take my clothes off and show everything I have doesn't mean that I'm not a grown-up."

  Photos: Hilary Duff's Busy Year

 Read: Duff Sisters Talk About Their 'To-Do' List
Looking at the way most pop stars present themselves, it's easy to think that dressed = kiddie artist, undressed = adult artist. Duff, however, doesn't see sex as being synonymous with growth.

"Certain artists my age who are going through this phase of not wanting a younger audience or not wanting people their age to like them or trying to get a more male-oriented audience will take their clothes off, and I definitely don't think that's a sign of maturity," she says matter-of-factly. "But I also think that if they feel comfortable doing stuff like that, then more power to them."

Accelerated maturity — for better or for worse, and whether the expression of it is role-model-worthy or not — is something all starlets deal with at some point. But unlike some of her peers, who ironically end up seeming immature as they try too hard to demonstrate how grown up they are, Hilary shows a self-awareness and honesty that reveals a young woman who really is coming into her own.


NEXT: So what's up with the Lindsay Lohan thing? ...
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Photo: Getty Images

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 "Fly"
Hilary Duff
(Hollywood Records)

 "Mr. James Dean"
Hilary Duff
(Hollywood Records)


 "Haters"
Hilary Duff
(Hollywood Records)





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