Natalie Portman is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood now. She first appeared in Léon: The Professional as a hitman’s protégée when she was just 12-years-old. Five years later, she bagged the role of Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace, and she became a household name.
The actress then went on to star in several blockbuster films but career trajectory came with its own set of challenges. Recently, the Oscar-winning actress opened up about the formative years of her career and talked about being sexualized at a young age.
Appearing on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Natalie Portman talked about the effects of portraying a “Lolita figure” in the press early on and what were her coping mechanisms. She said, “I was definitely aware of the fact that I was being portrayed — mainly in kind of journalism around when the movies would come out — as this Lolita figure and stuff.”
The Black Swan actress also talked about seeing herself in this sexualized reflection when she was younger. She said, “I’ve actually talked about it, I wrote a thing about it for the Women’s March a few years ago about how being sexualized as a child I think took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid. It made me feel like the way that I could be safe was to be like, ‘I’m conservative and I’m serious and you should respect me and I’m smart and don’t look at me that way.’”
Natalie Portman also said that she knew her thinking was misguided but also recognizes the self-protection she was trying to give herself from the onslaught of sexual attention. She explained, “I feel like you build these fortresses around you… If someone respects you, they’re not going to objectify you.” At the time, when she was younger, she was unable to comprehend as to why she would want to embrace her sexuality any more than she was.
Portman further explained, “You’re told as a girl and a woman that you’re supposed to want that, and that it’s a good thing, people finding you attractive or people thinking you’re sexy. These words that we use around young girls in particular — and then it’s complicated because it doesn’t necessarily always make you feel good or feel safe. You do have your own sexuality, and you do have your own desire, and you do want to explore things and you do want to be open but you don’t feel safe necessarily when there’s like older men that are like interested, you’re like no no no no.”