Mara Wilson is calling out "the narrative" that tears down girls in Hollywood. In an op-ed for The New York Times titled "The Lies Hollywood Tells About Little Girls" on Tuesday, Wilson opened up about the parallels between her and Britney Spears' treatment in the media.
As Wilson -- who starred in films like Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire -- wrote, there's an idea in Hollywood that "anyone who grew up in the public eye will meet some tragic end." That affected the way she, Spears and other stars lived their lives -- and it also led Wilson to declaring in an interview at age 13 that she wasn't a fan of Spears.
At the time, Wilson said she had absorbed "the narrative" surrounding the pop star, who is 6 years her senior. She didn't want to be like her.
"The way people talked about Britney Spears was terrifying to me then, and it still is now. Her story is a striking example of a phenomenon I’ve witnessed for years: Our culture builds these girls up just to destroy them," Wilson wrote. "Fortunately people are becoming aware of what we did to Ms. Spears and starting to apologize to her. But we’re still living with the scars."
The former child star recalls having already been sexualized by the media at age 13, despite her appearances in family movies and never appearing "in anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress."
"This was all intentional: My parents thought I would be safer that way. But it didn’t work," she explained. "People had been asking me, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' in interviews since I was 6. 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."
Wilson said she never experienced sexual harassment on the set of a movie, but rather it "always came at the hands of the the media and the public."
"The saddest thing about Ms. Spears’s 'breakdown' is that it never needed to happen. When she split with her husband, shaved her head and furiously attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, the Narrative was forced upon her, but the reality was she was a new mother dealing with major life changes," Wilson said. "People need space, time and care to deal with those things. She had none of that."
Though Spears has been under a conservatorship since 2008, the ongoing legal battle with her father has sparked even more attention following the viral #FreeBritney movement and the recent release of The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears, an unauthorized documentary about the pop star's life.
In an interview with ET last July, Wilson opened up more about the "cruelty" she experienced in the public eye.
"I had frustration with Hollywood, with the beauty standards of Hollywood, and also with people who would kind of be my fans but would cross boundaries or would be creepy," she said. "So there was a lot of frustration on my part."
"I was frustrated and angry with that for a very long time, and now I've kind of made peace with it. I don't think I could have done this ten years ago," she added of participating in Alex Winter's recent documentary, Showbiz Kids. "I think I was still frustrated."