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Mara Wilson – who rose to fame in hits such as the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, Mrs. Doubtfire, and of course, Matilda – has opened up about her experience with being sexualized as a child.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, the 33-year-old voice actress and author detailed some of the dark sides of being a child star, one of which she recalled involved being Photoshopped into pornographic images before she even reached 12 years old.
“I had already been sexualized anyway, and I hated it,” she wrote in her op-ed, regarding why she left Hollywood and no longer wanted to continue with a career in acting.
Pre-empting the sexualization, she revealed that her parents insisted that she only worked on family movies, and “never appeared in anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress” in her childhood films. However, this appeared to be in vain, as she was still sexualized by the media…
“This was all intentional: My parents thought I would be safer that way. But it didn’t work. People had been asking me, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ in interviews since I was six.
“Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant’s arrest for soliciting a prostitute.
“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.”
The actress – who now sticks to voice-only roles – confirmed that she was never sexually harassed by a director or anyone else on set, and her harassment came “at the hands of the media and the public”…
“Hollywood has resolved to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never sexually harassed on a film set,” she added.
“My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public.”
Speaking of the media and the public, it was in fact the highly talked about Britney Spears documentary – Framing Britney Spears – which prompted Mara Wilson to speak up about her own experiences with the press…
“Many moments of Ms Spears’s life were familiar to me,” she said.
“We both had dolls made of us, had close friends and boyfriends sharing our secrets and had grown men commenting on our bodies.”
She also noted that that’s where her similarities with the singer end, as Mara Wilson credited her family for supporting her emotionally and financially even through the most difficult of times…
“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,” she concluded.
“If I needed to escape the public eye, I vanished—safe at home or school.”
Thank you Mara Wilson for speaking up. Head to The New York Times to read her article in full.