Mara Wilson penned an essay for the New York Times criticizing the treatment of young stars, including Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore and Amandla Stenberg, by the media and Hollywood.
The actress, known for appearing in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, shared the essay on Tuesday. She kicks off her piece describing how an interview with a Canada newspaper had gone sour. What was set up as an interview about an upcoming film, became a an article suggesting that Wilson had her time in the spotlight and would go down dark paths – a series of events she calls “The Narrative.” Wilson’s treatment, however, isn’t specific to just herself as she draws parallels to how tabloids and media treated Britney Spears.
“Her story is a striking example of a phenomenon I’ve witnessed for years: Our culture builds these girls up just to destroy them,” Wilson wrote. “Fortunately people are becoming aware of what we did to Ms. Spears and starting to apologize to her. But we’re still living with the scars.”
Wilson recalls the inappropriate interactions she experienced while working on a number of films through out the 90s. Never appearing in “anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress,” Wilson recounts the ways media outlets and fans objectified and sexualized her pre-teen self, despite her best efforts. From people asking her about her romantic relationships at age six to 50-year-old men penning her love letters, Wilson said she “felt ashamed” about each uncomfortable moment of unwanted attention.
“Hollywood has resolved to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never sexually harassed on a film set. My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public,” she continues.
Wilson recognizes, that unlike Spears’ during her comeuppance, she had a support system in forms of family and close friends. She wrote that she know that she had some control over her finances and how much she was in the public eye.
She notes that the pop-star did not have the proper space to deal with personal issues like her divorce and motherhood. As a result of the constant paparazzi and media attention, “the Narrative was forced upon” Spears, continuing to make her a spectacle for tabloid and gossip.
“The saddest thing about Ms. Spears’s “breakdown” is that it never needed to happen. When she split with her husband, shaved her head and furiously attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, the Narrative was forced upon her, but the reality was she was a new mother dealing with major life changes. People need space, time and care to deal with those things. She had none of that,” she wrote.
Wilson’s op-ed, titled “The Lies Hollywood Tells About Little Girls,” comes after Hulu’s Framing Britney Spears doc shed light on the media and general public’s treatment of the super star.
Read Wilson’s full article here.