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While reflecting on her Hollywood career in a very candid interview, Natalie Portman really opened up about how she coped with being sexualized in the media from a very young age.
The Oscar-winning actress (she won the Academy Award for Black Swan back in 2011) didn’t hold back on the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast, and recalled how being sexualized when she was just 12 years old made her afraid, which therefore “took things away from” her own sexuality…
“It’s a complicated thing,” she told Dax Shepard.
“You’re told as a girl and a woman that you’re supposed to want that and it’s a good thing people thinking you’re attractive or people thinking you’re sexy or beautiful or precocious, like these words we use around young girls in particular.
“Then it’s complicated because it doesn’t make you necessarily feel good or always feel safe.”
“I was definitely aware of the fact that I was being portrayed as this ‘Lolita’ figure,” she continued.
“Being sexualized as a child, I think took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid and it made me like the way I could be safe was to be like, ‘I’m conservative,’ and ‘I’m serious and you should respect me,’ and ‘I’m smart,’ and ‘don’t look at me that way.’
“Whereas at that age, you do have your own sexuality and you do have your own desire, and you do want to explore things and you do want to be open. But you don’t feel safe, necessarily, when there’s older men that are interested, and you’re like, ‘No, no, no, no.’ ”
Natalie Portman began her acting career when she was just a child in films such as The Professional (1994) and Beautiful Girls (1996). And pretty soon after her debut in these big movies, the unwanted male attention started, which is when her “conservative” and “super serious” front began…
“So many people had this impression of me that I was super serious and conservative, and I realized I consciously cultivated that because it was always to make me feel safe,” she added.
“Like, ‘Oh, if someone respects you, they’re not gonna objectify you.’”
The actress even recalled that she looked for non-romantic acting roles during her teenage years, so that she wouldn’t have to do any “love scenes” with other actors…
“When I was in my teens I was like, ‘I don’t wanna have any love scenes or make-out scenes,’” she confessed.
“I would start choosing parts that were less sexy because it made me worried about the way I was perceived and how safe I felt.”
Natalie Portman added that in hindsight, she was very “safe” throughout her career, even when she first started, and is glad to have finally found the safe space she was ultimately searching for.
She now lives a self-confessed “boring” life with her husband Benjamin Millepied, who she wed back in 2012, and their two children – 9-year-old son Aleph, and 3-year-old daughter Amalia.