Stop Right Now, Thank You Very Much

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No matter who you are, it’s pretty hard being thirteen. So spare a thought for Millie Bobby Brown, star of Netflix's Stranger Things, who lives her adolescence in the very harsh spotlight of a 2018 world.

 

We don’t know about you, but when we were thirteen, life was all about how embarrassing our parents were, who would be playing the part of Baby Spice in our next music vid (shot on Dad’s camcorder), who owned the latest limited edition Impulse spray, who was going out with who, who was pashing on the field, who broke up after school, and who had really sweaty hands.

At times, it truly felt as though all eyes were on you and your clammy palms. Gossip whipped across the Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School handball courts faster than your older brother’s Mitsubishi Lancer.

But for us, that’s where it stopped. We were lucky. Gossip rarely left the school grounds - save for the occasional piece snaking its way over to Monrad, through your friend’s neighbour’s cousin.

For 13-year-old English actress and model Millie Bobby Brown - gossip is unfortunately a little more wide-spread. After becoming a household name through her role as Eleven in Netflix series; Stranger Things, she has since been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, AND most recently, was named as the youngest ever person to feature on the Time 100 List  - an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world (which comes with it’s own long list of concerns - but that’s another story). Not bad for someone who’s only had 13 years on this earth.

However, as we all know, this incredible, public success can come with a pretty high price. Namely - zero privacy to try edgy new hairstyles you saw in Dolly, zero anonymity on awkward family holidays, and apparently, zero limits when it comes to how much the media are willing to sexualise you in their stories. Even though you’re not yet old enough to babysit your siblings.

In a recent article on Refinery29, this very idea of the sexualisation of young girls in the media was questioned. And in a refreshing turn of events, they weren’t (just) pointing finger at everyone else, they were also calling themselves out. Holding themselves accountable.

Not long before this article, Refinery29 had published another article, speculating on the is-it-or-isn’t-it relationship between Bobby Brown and 15-year-old singer/internet star, Jacob Sartorius. And although Refinery29 do state they “hadn’t sexualized Brown,” they do admit that “analyzing a young girl’s private romantic life felt like one small step too far.”

Is it sad that a 13-year-old’s love life is being internationally scrutinised? Yes. Is it scary thinking about how the next few years may play out for Millie Bobby Brown, with privacy a long-forgotten thing of the past? Also yes. BUT, is it a little bit heartwarming to see prominent media outlets standing up and holding themselves accountable for being part of the problem, and promising to do better? We think so. It’s a start, anyway.