It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.
Paris Hilton has grown up in the public eye as she went from heiress to socialite before becoming a reality television star, actress, singer and entrepreneur. And while living a life in the spotlight has impacted her in many ways, it has also taken a toll on her relationship with her body.
The 41-year-old tells Yahoo Life that she's "never felt better" than she does right now in her body and her journey with health and wellness. When she reflects on her younger self, however, she recalls a different reality.
"It was definitely hard with just so many people judging you based on your appearance and just speaking about everyone in the industry," she says of the unsolicited opinions she faced on a daily basis. "Back then, there were very unhealthy standards of beauty and what that meant."
Hilton reflects on the early 2000s when photos of her and fellow young Hollywood stars would make for tabloid fodder. "There were unrealistic beauty standards that people use to look up to, that kind of waif unhealthy body type," she says.
Back in 2011, she shared with People magazine that even she was influenced by those trends.
"I was going out with my girlfriends and dancing, having a lot of coffee and Red Bull. Being on the go, I would just grab fast food or skip meals because I was busy," she said, recalling that her mom noticed when the young woman had weighed a mere 105 pounds. "She would be like, 'You’re way too skinny. It doesn't look good.' I said, 'Mom, everyone is skinny in Hollywood. It's just the way it is.' And she's like, 'No. It's not normal.'"
Now, as Hilton has gotten older and taken on new business ventures, she recognizes that her old lifestyle didn't suit her. And neither did the way that she was neglecting to care for her body.
"My schedule has definitely changed. Before, I was always everywhere and traveling and going to all the parties and staying out late and going to every music festival and all of that," she says. "But being really busy and always traveling on the go will sometimes have a toll on your body and your mind."
She also reclaimed autonomy over her body and her narrative once she spoke up about the emotional and physical abuse that she had suffered as a young girl at Provo Canyon School. Since releasing her This is Paris documentary, she says that she's felt freer.
"It's just been the most healing experience of my life to have spoken about everything that happened to me when I was a teenager," she says. "I'm telling my story and seeing what an impact it's made and changing laws already in seven states so that the abuse that happened to me cannot happen to the children at these places today. It's been a really growing experience and it's just changed my life in so many ways."
Above all else, growing older, sharing her story and finding her life partner has led Hilton to consider her future and how to best prepare for it.
"[I'm] wanting to start a family soon. I just knew that it was super important to pay attention to what I'm eating, how much I'm sleeping and overall taking care of myself," she says, explaining that she used at-home tests by Viome to decipher the best food and supplement recommendations for family planning. "It's been like a huge learning process, just preparing me for the future, for having my children and being a healthy mom."
An important part of that for Hilton is also using her own experiences with body image and mental health to create an uplifting environment for not only her future children, but anybody growing up with the pressures of social media.
"My advice would be just to care more about what you think about yourself than what others think, especially strangers. When you're growing up, there's just so much pressure around caring so much about what someone else is going to say, and now with social media and all these different areas for anyone to come in and comment on you or the way you feel or the way you look or anything like that," she explains. "Just do not pay attention to the negative because people who are being mean or negative, that's just because they're not happy with themselves. So they choose to project that on to other people. It's not worth taking in. There's no point in doing that to yourself."
Instead, Hilton encourages using social media in a positive way and prides herself on curating a space "to spread happiness and sparkles and fun" on her own pages. "I like to put things out that put people in a good mood or that inspire them," she says.
She's also remaining focused on the positive ways that beauty standards have evolved since she was in her 20s and how people's mental health may be better because of it.
"It's definitely changed for the better," she says of inclusivity and representation. "Now we see people of all sizes and everyone can be beautiful and there is not just one definition."
She continues, "I really love what Rihanna is doing with Fenty and showing that it's not like a one-size-fits-all thing. Everyone can be beautiful and it really does come from within. It's really about just being a good person with a kind heart and that is the most important part of life."
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