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Praise or prey: Lewd portrayal of young stars

By Lauren Wilson Apr. 5, 2023

Emma Watson recieved unwanted attention from photographers outside a London nightclub that laid down on the pavement to get pictures under her skirt as she celebrated her 18th birthday. Watson states that her first day of adulthood was a turning point for her public image, as she felt violated and objectified when the photographs were published the next day. Watson is only one of the many young female celebrities to undergo unwelcome sexualization, as several new-generation stars speak out against the discomfort they experienced from the media and paparazzi at the expense of their privacy and safety.

Lyn Kang Art

After starring in the Netflix original “Stranger Things,” Emmy-nominated actress Millie Bobby Brown gained fame at the age of 12, resulting in the majority of her adolescence being spent in the spotlight. USA Today states that when Brown was just 13 she was featured on W magazine’s list “Why TV is Sexier than Ever.” On Millie's 16th birthday she stated in an Instagram caption that the last few years have been mentally draining because of her struggles with pain and insecurity caused by frustrations of feeling dehumanized from the inappropriate comments and sexualization she experienced throughout her childhood.

Lyn Kang Art

Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is yet another one of the many female celebrities to suffer from sexualization as a minor, after the release of her viral song “Ocean Eyes” in 2015 when she was 14. Wary of the public eye, Eilish chose to wear baggy clothing, stating that her intention was to hide her body and avoid judgment and sexualization in the media. In spite of her efforts, a photo of Billie wearing a tank top circulated many social media platforms including Twitter, where many people felt the need to comment on her body. Some users zoomed in on her chest, making sexual comments regarding her body. She was 17 at this time.

“People should respect young female celebrities' privacy by reporting predators online. Everyone needs to remember that these celebrities are still underage. Furthermore, sexualizing young celebrity women may make them feel uncomfortable and unprofessional, as people only appreciate their looks rather than acknowledging their roles or respecting them,” Senior Matthew Long said.

The reality for many celebrities is that sexualization only increases once they turn 18 and are deemed “legal.” Many people engage in “countdowns” dedicated towards counting down the days, months and hours until young female celebrities reach the age for adulthood. Actress Natalie Portman addressed the invasion of privacy she endured after hearing a countdown on her local radio that was waiting for her to reach legal age. She spoke at the 2019 Women’s March, mentioning how this experience highlighted her displeasure for the entitlement of men that objectify her body.

“The sexualization of these celebrities is almost completely avoidable, and spreading awareness of its negative effect is the most beneficial option for people to take. Young women’s mental health may suffer as they are pushed into uncomfortable positions when they are viewed sexually,” Sophomore Saanvi Deb said.

Ultimately, the young female victims of sexualization are susceptible to both physical and mental scarring. A study by The American Psychological Association reports that sexualization of high school and college aged women may result in low self esteem, body insecurities, eating disorders and depression. According to Juliet Williams, a University of California gender studies professor, the constant objectification women face begins to be normalized in their minds and as a result fortifies the harmful stereotype that women are sexual objects.

It is extremely common for young women in the spotlight to undergo internal struggles because of sexualization. Due to the high accessibility of social media profiles, people will continue to degrade and make sexual comments regarding young female celebrities online, despite the platforms’ community guidelines.


About the Contributors

Lauren Wilson

staff writer

Lauren Wilson attends Leland High School as a sophomore. She is a staff writer for journalism. Activities she enjoys doing consist of walking her dogs, painting, taking naps, and cheerleading.

Lyn Kang


Hyunsuh Kang is a sophomore at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys sleeping, eating, and playing with his friends.”

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