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Millie Bobby Brown, 18, is opening up about being sexualized in Hollywood as a young girl.
Brown, who was only 12 when she was cast in Netflix’s Stranger Things, opened up on The Guilty Feminist podcast about the challenges of growing up in the spotlight and how turning 18 put things into perspective.
“I deal with the same things any 18-year-old is dealing with, navigating being an adult and having relationships and friendships, and it's all of those things,” she said. “Being liked and trying to fit in, it’s all a lot, and you’re trying to [know] yourself while doing that. The only difference is obviously I'm doing that in the public eye.”
“It can be really overwhelming,” Brown said of having to deal with being sexualized on top of the everyday struggles of being a teenager. “I have definitely been dealing with that more in the last couple weeks of turning 18. [I’m] definitely seeing a difference between the way people act and the way the press and social media react to me coming of age.”
“It’s gross,” she continued, explaining that her experience in Hollywood is “a good representation of what’s going on in the world and how young girls are sexualized. I have been dealing with that — but I have also been dealing with that for forever.”
In fact, when Brown was 16, she shared a powerful message addressing the online criticism and sexualization she’s faced growing up in the spotlight.
“16 has felt like a long time coming. I feel like change needs to happen for not only this generation but the next. Our world needs kindness and support in order for us children to grow and succeed," she said.
“There are moments I get frustrated from the inaccuracy, inappropriate comments, sexualization and unnecessary insults that ultimately have resulted in pain and insecurity for me,” she wrote on an Instagram post celebrating her 16th birthday in 2020. “But not ever will I be defeated. I’ll continue doing what I love and spreading the message in order to make change.”
Brown explained on the The Guilty Feminist that when she was younger, she would constantly face criticism about expressing herself too maturely on the red carpet.
“Once I was going on the red carpet and I thought, ‘Oh my god. I’m going to do a little low, just a little lower,’” she explained of her dress. “I was like 16 and was like, ‘Mom, dad, please. Can I please wear this to this awards show?”
Soon after, she recalls, the press went after her for being too revealing.
“I just got crucified,” she remembered, adding that outlets would accuse her of trying to appear older. “I thought is this really what we should be talking about? We should be talking about the incredible people that were there at the awards show, the talent that was there, the people we are representing.”
In recent years, Brown said she’s taken matters into her own hands by using her social media platform as a way to create change.
“I think social media is the worst place of all time,” Brown, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador explained. “I’m like, when people come on to my page they can be happy. And they can see people actually being helped or they can learn or they can laugh. And they’re seeing a real girl. Of course I like to post my little selfies, but like, then I get real.”
“I’m not posting anything personal anymore. You’re not gonna see that part of me. You get to see the things I choose to put out in the world,” she added. “I hope if there’s a 12-year-old that’s told Instagram they’re 18, and they’ve created an account, they’re going on my account and they’re not being exploited to the horrible world that’s out there.”