Former child star Mara Wilson has used an essay expressing solidarity with singer Britney Spears to speak about how she was “sexualised” by the public and media when she was growing up.
The Mrs Doubtfire and Matilda actress said she had been “photoshopped into child pornography” before she was 12.
Now 33, Wilson said she and Spears had been written into a “narrative” about the “dark paths” taken by child stars.
“Our culture builds these girls up just to destroy them,” she continued.
Wilson, whose films included the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, retreated from the limelight when she entered her teenage years and is now a voice artist and author.
Writing in the New York Times, she said decided not to follow the path of teenage actresses who appeared on the covers of lad mags or in provocative music videos. “I had already been sexualized anyway, and I hated it,” she said.
She wrote that she had “never appeared in anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress” in her films as a child.
“This was all intentional: My parents thought I would be safer that way. But it didn’t work. People had been asking me, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ in interviews since I was six. Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant’s arrest for soliciting a prostitute.
“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. Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and photoshopped into child pornography. Every time, I felt ashamed.
“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.”
Her opinion piece follows the airing of Framing Britney Spears, a documentary about the singer’s life, career and contested legal arrangements.
“Many moments of Ms Spears’s life were familiar to me,” Wilson continued. “We both had dolls made of us, had close friends and boyfriends sharing our secrets and had grown men commenting on our bodies.”
Framing Britney Spears has led to renewed criticism about the singer’s treatment, and prompted apologies from her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake and some media outlets.