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Drew Barrymore, Brooke Shields open up about being sexualized as child actors

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Apr 17, 2023 7:40 pm

Warning: This story has mentions of child sexual abuse

Actresses Drew Barrymore and Brooke Shields showed their vulnerable side as they opened up about their experiences being sexualized as child actors in Hollywood and how this affected their lives.

In a recent episode of The Drew Barrymore Show, Drew asked her good friend what she felt like during the time where the #MeToo movement became viral and women were taking the chance to publicize their experiences of sexual abuse.

Sharing what it was like for her, Drew recounted, "I didn’t feel like I had a dog in that race. I didn’t feel like I could speak to it, because I experienced things that were so inappropriate at such a young age that I'm so confused at what I was accountable for, what did I put myself into, where was I, was I a part of things—we were children."

Echoing the same sentiments as Drew, Brooke said that she didn't know where she "fell on the spectrum" of sexualization, harassment, or abuse.

"I don’t know how to interpret my experiences because I was made to feel culpable. And at the same time, you victim-shame yourself. But we were so young and it was so 'appropriate.' I couldn’t feel sorry [for myself.] I didn’t even know what it was. I didn’t know," Brooke said.

The two celebrities discussed this as Brooke's documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields had begun airing.

The two-part feature shines the spotlight on how Brooke suffered from sexual objectification as a child actor, starting at age 12 when she was cast as a child prostiture in the 1978 historical drama film Pretty Baby, and then at 15, in the 1980 romantic survival film The Blue Lagoon.

Speaking about The Blue Lagoon in the documentary, where she was made to spend the movie topless with just her hair covering her chest, Brooke said, "They wanted to make it a reality show. They wanted to sell my actual sexual awakening. The irony was, I wasn’t in touch with any of my own sexuality."

When Drew asked her about whether the film's director, Randal Kleiser, reached out to her, Brooke revealed that he did, but opted to ignore his call as she didn't "feel like bringing any of it back up again."

"It was about these males needing me to be in a certain category to serve their story and it never was about me. It was never protective of me. It was fun and loving at times. But I was just there. I was a pawn," she added.

Many netizens on Twitter lauded the two women for gathering the courage to discuss such a scarring and delicate topic.

"When things happen to us as children it’s easy to burry it, brush it off, put it in the back of your head. Sometimes questioning if it happened because as adults it’s hard to remember and often too painful. There is also shame. You are both strong and inspiring women," fellow actor Damon Gonzalez commented.

Another one wrote, "This is a powerful moment of reckoning—two women realizing that what younger people are teaching them about their own lives and experiences with assault and harassment."

Aside from her experiences of child sexualization, Brooke also talked about she was raped by a Hollywood executive who she already knew in her 20s, wherein she was brought to his hotel and was assaulted by him.

"It was like wrestling… I was afraid I could get choked out or something," Brooke recalled in the documentary.

Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields is available for streaming on Hulu. While the said streaming app is not available in the Philippines, the documentary will likely be available on Disney+ instead.