Legendary model and actress Brooke Shields sparked a firestorm in the early 80s when she first broke onto the scene in a series of highly sexualized Calvin Klein ads at just 15 years old.
Chief among the voices of her detractors, it seems, was iconic journalist Barbara Walters--and Shields isn't letting Walters off the hook all the years later.
During a recent appearance on Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert, Shields spoke at length about the experience of her meteoric rise and the almost instantaneous backlash that ensued in which Shields was scapegoated for her own exploitation.
During their conversation, Shepard and Shields discussed a 1981 interview in which Walters grilled the then-teenager with invasive and shaming questions about her body and sexuality that Shields told Shepard now seems "practically criminal."
See a clip from the interview below.
The Walters interview was one of several Shields sat for amid the furor over her most infamous Calvin Klein ad, in which a teenage Shields famously told the viewer, "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."
The backlash to the ad was swift given the obvious sexual innuendo of the line, which implies the teenage Shields wasn't wearing underwear, and Walters seemed more than ready to join the fray.
Speaking about the interview, which Shepard called "maddening," Shields did not mince words about how she feels about the way Walters and many other journalists' questioned her.
"It's practically criminal. It's not journalism. And I just remember... they never wanted the answer, they wanted their point of view."
Particularly jarring is the fact that Shields didn't even understand the implications being made in the commercial in the first place. In an October interview with Vogue, she described herself as "naive" and discussed how confusing it was to be "berated" and hounded by paparazzi for a commercial she took at face value.
"I was naive, I didn't think anything of it. I didn't think it had to do with underwear, I didn't think it was sexual in nature. I would say it about my sister, 'Nobody can come between me and my sister'..."
“I think the assumption was that I was much more savvy than I ever really was. I was a virgin..."
On Twitter, Shields' words definitely made an impression.
Many couldn't believe everything she went through—from the exploitation to the blame placed on her—was so socially acceptable at the time.
And many shared her feelings about Walters.
Though such overt, mainstream sexualization of an underage girl would likely not fly in today's post-#MeToo world, the prominence the controversy over Shields' ads brought to the Calvin Klein brand endures to this day.