Take it from someone who knows: Hollywood’s rampant sexual misconduct problem begins with sexualizing actors, and that includes child ones. Mara Wilson, a writer and former child actress who starred in ’90s favorites “Matilda” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” penned a powerful essay for Elle urging the media to stop sexualizing child stars — beginning with “Stranger Things” breakout star Millie Bobby Brown. The essay was inspired by this viral tweet, written by a middle-aged man, declaring the 13-year-old Brown “just grew up in front of our eyes.”
Wilson writes that she was sexualized and objectified from a very young age; her body and looks were were scrutinized by the media; and she often received leering fan letters from grown-men. “Even before I was out of middle school, I had been featured on foot fetish websites, photoshopped into child porn, and received all kinds of letters and messages online from grown men.”
As a fan of Brown’s, Wilson writes that she often feels protective over child actors, and was not worried about her until she turned 13. When she saw the tweet, and subsequent articles parroting the same sentiment, she “felt sick”:
I thought of the media outlets that posted countdown clocks until Emma Watson or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were “legal”—that is to say, “safe” fantasy material. These websites also run scare pieces about kidnapped children, teen sex-trafficking, and pedophile predators. Young girls at risk, young girls objectified: It’s all titillation to them. These adults fetishize innocence, and the loss of innocence even more. They know what they’re selling.
Read Wilson’s full essay here.