'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson Opens up About Being 'Sexualized' as a Child

As the latest development in the Framing Britney Spears documentary aftermath, Matilda actress Mara Wilson published an op-ed in the New York Times detailing the many ways she and other child stars are sexualized by the media at early ages. The actress revealed that she and the "Toxic" singer had a very similar upbringing when it comes to the media's treatment. Growing up, she says she was witness to "many teenage actresses and singers embracing sexuality as a rite of passage, appearing on the covers of lad mags or in provocative music videos." At a young age, she claims she decided "that was never going to be me."

The difference, she says, lies in each other's families. While Wilson grew up on a different stage, working on films with Robin Williams like Mrs. Doubtfire and Spears earned her claim to fame through singing and dancing, Wilson asserts her parents were the driving force keeping her away from the pitfalls of fame. She goes on to express how she attended public schools for a sense of normalcy and shared a room with her sister.

"But my life was easier not only because I was never tabloid-level famous, but because unlike Ms. Spears, I always had my family's support. I knew that I had money put away for me, and it was mine," she says. "If I needed to escape the public eye, I vanished—safe at home or school." As the New York Times Spears documentary alleges, the media played a large role in the hyper-sexualization of these young stars. The documentary included some of Spears' past interviews where reporters asked her about her virginal status as a teen as well as her dating history. "My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public," Wilson says.

Though, she couldn't escape it entirely. "People had been asking me, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' in interviews since I was 6," she says. "Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant's arrest for soliciting a prostitute." Unfortunately, that was merely the tip of the iceberg. "It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me. It was not when 50-year-old men did," she described. "Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and Photoshopped into child pornography. Every time, I felt ashamed."