Winona Ryder recently sat down with New York’s Heather Havrilesky for the magazine’s August 8, 2016 cover feature. Reflecting on her career’s trajectory and her recent starring role in Stranger Things, the actress also commented on the ways the media has pathologized her.
Here’s Ryder in an excerpt from the interview:
“‘I wish I could unknow this, but there is a perception of me that I’m supersensitive and fragile. And I am supersensitive, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. To do what I do, I have to remain open.’ She says that sensitive is so often used as a bad word — a euphemism for weak or crazy. ‘There’s a line in [Stranger Things] where someone says [of her character], ‘She’s had anxiety problems in the past.’ A lot of people have picked up on that, like, ‘Oh, you know, she’s crazy.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, wait a second, she’s struggling. Two kids, deadbeat dad, working her ass off. Who wouldn’t be anxious?
Even that word, anxious. It’s a bad word. And so like all of these words — it’s kind of what I tried to do with Girl, Interrupted, and why I was so invested in that book and trying to get it made [as a movie]. My whole point was, this happens to every girl, almost.’ Yet in trying to remove the stigma our culture places on common emotional challenges by talking about them, Ryder only stigmatized herself more. ‘I remember I did Diane Sawyer, and I talked about my experiences with anxiety and depression when I was that age. And I think by doing that, maybe coupled with my physical size, there’s this ‘crazy’ thing. And I’ve realized recently it’s literally impossible to try and change that story.’”
And yet, as Havrilesky reveals through her profile of Ryder, the latter has long been a public figure so many of us weird girls needed. Her cool has always been quirky (long live Beetlejuice and Heathers), and her open sensitivity reminds us to honor our own.