Mara Wilson has opened up about how she felt “ashamed” when her image was sexualised as a teenage actress.
The 33-year-old star of Matilda was only 10 when she starred in the popular movie and was thrust into the spotlight.
She said that as she went through her teenage years, there were those that sexualised her image and she “hated it”.
Writing an op-ed in the New York Times, Mara said she made “intentional” efforts to avoid the push to make her appealing to adults but it was became increasingly more difficult.
Mara wrote: “I saw many teenage actresses and singers embracing sexuality as a rite of passage, appearing on the covers of lad mags or in provocative music videos.
“That was never going to be me, I decided. I had already been sexualised anyway, and I hated it.”
Mara compared her journey with others that found fame as teenagers, who were then ‘exploited’ to make their image more sexual, like Drew Barrymore and Britney Spears.
She said that she became a victim of the “narrative” that “famous kids deserve” the abuse and scrutiny that is hurled at them from an early age.
Mara said that despite being young and choosing to star in family films, she was still asked inappropriate questions in interviews.
She continued: “I mostly acted in family movies — the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire.
“I never appeared in anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress.
“This was all intentional: My parents thought I would be safer that way. But it didn’t work.”
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She went on to reveal that adults used to send her messages which were degrading.
Mara continued: “It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me. It was not when 50-year-old men did.
“Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and photoshopped into child pornography. Every time, I felt ashamed.”
Mara said that while steps have been taken to clean up Hollywood, she said it was the public that mistreated her.
She added: “Hollywood has resolved to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never sexually harassed on a film set.
“My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public.”
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Mara went on to compare her experience to Britney’s plight, saying the main difference between them was that she received the support of her family.
The Matilda star continued: “Many moments of Ms. Spears’s life were familiar to me.
“We both had dolls made of us, had close friends and boyfriends sharing our secrets and had grown men commenting on our bodies.
“But my life was easier not only because I was never tabloid-level famous, but because unlike Ms. Spears, I always had my family’s support.
“I knew that I had money put away for me, and it was mine. If I needed to escape the public eye, I vanished — safe at home or school.”
Mara said that she is now owning her story and where it is going, concluding: “The Narrative isn’t a story someone else is writing anymore. I can write it myself.”
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