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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Millie Bobby Brown Calls Out ‘Gross’ Media Coverage Following Her 18th Birthday

The Stranger Things star said her experience is a good representation of "what’s going on in the world and how young girls are sexualized."

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Millie Bobby Brown is speaking out about the disgusting way people have been treating her since she turned 18 in February. The actress, who has been in the public eye for nearly six years now since skyrocketing to fame at 12-years-old as Eleven in Stranger Things, has been on the receiving end of no shortage of unwanted attention.

In an appearance on the Guilty Feminist podcast this week, Brown opened up about how she’s been treated since coming of age and shared her frustrations with the media’s obsession with famous young women and girls. She told the podcast she’s “definitely been dealing with [being sexualized] more within the last two weeks of turning 18" and “definitely” clocked the “difference between the way people act and the way the press and social media have reacted to me coming of age.” Brown added that her turning 18 “shouldn’t change anything,” but it has, and “it’s gross.”

“It’s a very good representation of what’s going on in the world and how young girls are sexualized,” she said, “but I have also been dealing with that forever.”

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Brown went on to cite an incident that happened even before her 18th birthday, when she was “crucified” at age 16 for wearing a dress with a slightly lower-cut to an awards show. The sartorial choice sparked all kinds of scrutiny and sexualized media coverage: “I thought ‘My, is this really what we’re talking about? We should be talking about the incredible people that were there at the award show.’”

The young star’s comments on aging and the public paying so much attention to her looks notably come after a Reddit thread dedicated to counting down the days to her 18th birthday went viral. The repulsive countdown drew intense backlash as it quite literally counted down the days until presumably grown men could legally sexualize a teenage girl and child star. To make matters even worse, on her birthday, an Instagram post from Brown was almost immediately subjected to a barrage of sexual comments.

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The sexualization of female child stars is, to quote Brown, “gross.” Unfortunately, our culture’s obsession with treating these young women and girls as sexual temptations isn’t new. Like Brown, many former child stars who are now adults have opened up about similar experiences. Natalie Portman, now 40, recounted in 2018 that shortly after starring in the movie Léon: The Professional at age 12, her local radio station began a similar countdown to her 18th birthday. Pre-social media, during the ‘90s and 2000s, radio hosts were also counting down to the 18th birthdays of the Olsen twins and Harry Potter star Emma Watson. Matilda star Mara Wilson has opened up about being “photoshopped into child porn” and “receiving all kinds of letters and messages online from grown men” before she even finished middle school. One adult film company reportedly offered Kendall Jenner $1.8 million for her to star in an X-rated video with “a partner of her choosing” to mark her 18th birthday in 2013. Rapper and social media personality Bhad Bhabie made a staggering $1 million within just six hours of joining OnlyFans on her 18th birthday.

The list of the deeply creepy behavior that famous young women and girls have endured is truly endless.

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Ultimately, as Brown explained on the podcast, however famous any young woman or teenage girl might be, she’s still navigating the everyday stresses of being a teenager on top of everything else. “Any 18-year-old is dealing with navigating being an adult and having relationships and friendships and being liked and trying to fit in,” Brown said. “It’s all a lot, and you’re trying to find yourself while doing that. The only difference is that, obviously, I’m doing that in the public eye, so it can be really overwhelming.”

In the face of all of that, it’s brave and heartening that Brown is able to publicly speak up about her experience. Keep telling your truth, Millie.