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Natalie Portman Felt Unsafe Being Sexualized as a Child Star

Published Tue Jan 01 2019 By Tess
Natalie Portman Felt Unsafe Being Sexualized as a Child Star

Award-winning actress Natalie Portman now opens up about the unsafe feeling she went through while sexualized as a child star.

After 25 years in the film industry, the academy award winning actress Natalie Portman recently opened up about the way society perceives and treats its young celebrities.

While talking about her latest movie, Vox Lux, where Natalie plays a pop icon struggling with past childhood trauma, the 37-year-old actress shared the insecurities she went through as a child star more than 20 years ago.

She disclosed being sexualized as a child star often made her feel unsafe and reminded her of the need to cover her body.

"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. I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world that I’m someone worth of safety and respect."

She continued:

"The response to my expression, from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements, served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism."

The actress started her acting career at age 13 from the movie The Professional where she depicted an orphaned teenage girl who expresses sexual feelings towards a much older man.

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While the U.S. theatrical release depicted the relationship between Portman's character, Mathilda, and Leon, played by Jean Reno, as being platonic in nature, the European version suggested something more.

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After Portman's Hollywood debut, the actress revealed, as a 13-year-old  budding actress, her first piece of fan mail was a “rape fantasy” by a man. In her interview, the Black Swan actress explained that the way a movie portrays an actor will unintentionally be the part of their identity.

After years of working in the film industry, Portman finally came to terms with the fact she could not control her image.

 "I know I was sexualized in the ways that I was photographed or portrayed, and that was not my doing but nonetheless it becomes a part of your public identity."

Portman further explains the pressure of being in the spotlight is particularly intense for young women trying to figure out who they are vs. who others want them to be.

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She said, "It’s complicated to have your own private development and maturation alongside that [pressure] as a person, kind of having these double identities." Further, she reckons it’s a big conversation about how many different kinds of things girls and women can be.