Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard have opened up about feeling sexualized as young as 13 and 14 years old, respectively.
Growing up is hard enough -- especially through the teenage years -- without having to do it in a media spotlight. But that's exactly what was thrust upon the young stars of "Stranger Things" when the Netflix series became an instant phenomenon.
For Natalia Dyer, it was overwhelming and yet a little easier to navigate because she was 20 years old when cast as a high school teenager. But for the show's core cast of kids, they are basically the ages of their characters.
"I feel protective over the younger kids even though they’re not kids anymore, they’re teens," she told The Independent in a recent interview. "They’re all great people and all having to grow up in very crazy circumstances."
What she's had to watch has included instances where she feels they were over-sexualized way too young. One example cited is when Millie Bobby Brown was listed among other women as a reason TV is "sexier than ever" by W magazine at 13 years old.
Both Brown and co-star Finn Wolfhard have spoken about "inappropriate comments and sexualization" they experienced as child actors, with the latter saying he would receive sexually suggestive messages when he was 14 years old, including one from a 27-year-old model who told him "not to be weird, but hit me up in [a] few years" that quickly went viral.
Earlier this year, Brown commemorated her 16th birthday with an Instagram message about the challenges she's faced growing up in the public eye. "The last few years haven't been easy, I'll admit that," she wrote.
"There are moments i get frustrated from the inaccuracy, inappropriate comments, sexualization, and unnecessary insults that ultimately have resulted in pain and insecurity for me," she continued. Brown has been a staunch ally in the fight against online bullying.
In talking about what she's witnessed in the past five years with the show's success, Dyer concedes that "there are so many layers going on here," but nevertheless said, "I generally feel like, to me, it’s oversexualizing them."
According to Dyer, sexualizing young actors is “a cultural issue" and that "there must be a bigger concept behind it as to why."
"As a private person, I just feel like, leave people alone," she said. "Unless you’re talking about their work or what they want to talk about."