The former actress writes an article on the dangers of child scrutiny.
'Stranger Things' has become an international phenomenon for the young talent within the series, but for Mara Wilson, some aspects of the public's response to the actors have had an uncomfortably familiar effect on her. She has just penned an essay defending Millie Bobby Brown against the media's sexualisation of her.
Millie Bobby Brown at 'Stranger Things 2' premiere
The 30-year-old retired actress, best known for her roles in 'Matilda', 'Mrs. Doubtfire' and 'Miracle on 34th Street' when she was a child, blasted both the media and fans for making inappropriate comments about 13-year-old 'Stranger Things' star Millie Bobby Brown in an article written for Elle Magazine. She opened the piece by reflecting on her own experience of such behaviour.
'His name was Don, or maybe Doug. He was a grown man, one I'd never met, and he wanted me to answer his fan letter', she wrote. 'His writing was hard to read, but I could make out just enough: 'I love your legs', and 'Can I have your lip print on the enclosed index card?' I was fifteen [and] hadn't appeared on screen since I was twelve.'
She goes on to reveal how she had seen herself on foot fetish websites and even photoshopped onto child porn, and had become used to getting inappropriate comments from grown men the minute she hit puberty.
'As soon as I'd hit puberty, it had become okay for strangers to discuss my body', she went on. 'Every time I stumbled across an article about myself, every fear I had about my pubescent body was confirmed: I was 'ugly', which as a woman, made me useless, or I was 'cute', which made me an object.'
Mara revealed her love of 'Stranger Things' and the actors within the series, praising Millie Bobby Brown - who plays Eleven - in particular. She had no idea that the actress would become the subject of such scrutiny and 'the creepy, inappropriate public inclination to sexualize young girls in the media'.
'I wasn't worried about her. Not at first', she went on. 'Then Millie Bobby Brown turned 13.'
'Last week, I saw a photo of her on Twitter, dressed up for a premiere. I thought she looked like a teenage girl. The caption, however, read that, at 13, she 'just grew up in front of our eyes'. It had been tweeted by a grown man. I felt sick, and then I felt furious. A 13-year-old girl is not all grown up.'
She also criticised the public for their responses to her outfit, particularly comments like: 'She looks so old! Why is she dressed like that?'
'Dressed like what, exactly? A teenage girl who, like all teenage girls, wants to look pretty?' Mara wrote. 'The implication was that if a young girl in the public eye showed anything that could even possibly be construed as an expression of her sexuality, she would be an acceptable target for scorn or harassment.'
These days, Mara is almost solely a writer, having taken herself out of the acting industry as a teen. That disinclination to be a part of the movie world is all starting to make a lot of sense now, and we can only praise her heavily for her important words on this growing issue.