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Mara Wilson Opens Up About The Trauma Of Being Sexualized As A Child Actor In Hollywood

The actor, who rose to fame in films like 'Mrs. Doubtfire' and 'Matilda,' discussed the 'lasting damage' of creepy adult fans and the 'world at large.'

Mara Wilson now; Mara Wilson in 1996
Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Lambda Legal; Derek Storm/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Mara Wilson, who became a big-screen success at only six years old for her breakout role in Mrs. Doubtfire, recently opened up about the trauma of being sexualized in Hollywood as a child actor.

Wilson told The Guardian:

"I don't think you can be a child star without there being some kind of lasting damage."
"The thing that people assume is that Hollywood is inherently corrupt, and there's something about being on film sets that destroys you. For me, that was not necessarily true."
"I always felt safe on film sets... I think that's because I worked with a lot of really wonderful directors, who were used to working with children."

And while she was safe on set and her parents ensured she worked only in children's movies, she wasn't protected from the outside world.

The Matilda star revealed she "was still sexualized" by adults even though protective precautions were in place.

"I had people sending me inappropriate letters and posting things about me online."
"I made the mistake of Googling myself when I was 12 and saw things that I couldn't unsee."

She continued:

"People don't realize how much constantly talking to the press as a child weighs on you."

Wilson shared that journalists would ask her - a seven-year-old - about mature topics such as French kissing and which actors she considered to be "sexiest."

She also shared the trauma that stemmed from the world's expectation of her to be like her 1996 character Matilda.

"I saw that [fans] were disappointed that I wasn't as smart, pretty, nice, as they expect you to be. I think they were expecting me to be Matilda, and she's wonderful, but she's not real."
"She's brilliant in every single way. She's smart, and kind and powerful."
"Then they met me, this nerdy, awkward teenager who got angry sometimes, but couldn't even channel her anger into powers. I was never going to live up to that."

The Miracle on 34th Street star revealed Hollywood "was kind of done" with her when she hit puberty.

When she was 12, a director asked her to wear a sports bra to flatten her breasts.

"It affected me for a very long time because I had this Hollywood idea that if you're not cute any more, if you're not beautiful, then you are worthless."
"Because I directly tied that to the demise of my career. Even though I was sort of burned out on it, and Hollywood was burned out on me, it still doesn't feel good to be rejected."
"For a long time, I had this kind of dysmorphia about the way that I looked and I obsessed about it too much."

Many took to Twitter to express their disgust.

And while people on social media were upset over Wilson's treatment and sexualization as a child actor, sadly, some were not surprised.

And several expressed their hopes that Wilson is doing okay now considering all she went through as a child.

Wilson decided to take time off from acting and enrolled in a performing arts boarding school, which she paid for with her own earnings.

There, she found a love for writing, which is what she predominately focuses on currently. In 2016, she penned a memoir Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame.

Wilson also does voice acting work but is unsure if she will return to TV or film.

"I don't know if they really iknow what to do with a short, curvy, Jewish brunette."
"I don't want anybody telling me, 'You need to lose 30 pounds and get a nose job."

Now, it's on her terms.

"I defined myself for so long by the media's terms, by Hollywoods terms instead of defining myself by my own goals, my own relationships, my own life."