Natalie Portman Opens Up About 'Being Sexualized As A Child' In The Spotlight: 'It Made Me Afraid'
Natalie Portman is blasting men and the media for contributing to fears and insecurities which affected her sexuality growing up as a child actress.
In Monday’s episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, the Vox Lux performer got candid about the pressures of growing up in Hollywood, especially in the ways she felt objectified by men, commenting:
“I was definitely aware of the fact that I was being portrayed… as this ‘Lolita’ figure. 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.’”
Related: Did Natalie Portman Just Reveal A Thor 4 Spoiler!?
To maintain her privacy — not to mention an ever-important sense of safety and comfort at such a young age (she was only 12 when she began acting!) — the star turned to roles that felt more in line with the image she wanted to portray. Natalie told the podcast host:
“When I was in my teens I was like, ‘I don’t wanna have any love scenes or make-out scenes. 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.”
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While this decision allowed her some control in her public image, it drastically changed the ways others began to view her in the industry. At a time when she should have had the freedom to explore her identity and sexuality, she felt perceived as:
“Super serious and conservative … and I realized I consciously cultivated that because it was always to make me feel safe. Like, ‘Oh, if someone respects you, they’re not gonna objectify you.’”
Related: Natalie Explains How ‘White Privilege’ Made Her ‘Fear’ Defunding Police
Yikes! It hurts our hearts that she experienced this struggle growing up, and it goes to show why the #MeToo movement is so important for young creatives today!
For those who may not remember, Portman shared her own experience in 2018 about the sexual harassment she faced at 13 when her first film was released. At the Time’s Up march in Los Angeles, the momma of two recalled receiving her first piece of fan mail, a rape fantasy written by a man, which she was sent after starring in the 1994 flick The Professional.
The A-lister said:
“I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort.”
Fast forward to present day, and the 39-year-old only had so much control. Despite her best efforts and solid defense mechanism, Nat confessed to Dax about her younger days:
“I know I was sexualized in the ways that I was photographed or portrayed, and that was not my doing. That becomes a part of your public identity.”
This goes to show how we all play a part in changing the entertainment landscape for the better. Don’t like a movie? Speak out! Think your favorite child actors are over-scrutinized? Use your voice!
We commend the Black Swan lead for speaking out about her fraught childhood and hope her vulnerable story helps fewer children feel the added pressures she dealt with.
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