Sexualisation of Child Actors - Will It Ever End?

Model Ali Michael came under fire for recent comments she made about 14-year-old ‘Stranger Things’ actor, Finn Wolfhard.The 27-year-old posted a picture of the child actor on Instagram captioned “not to be weird, but hit me up in four years.” Obviously, there is no need for me to discuss how wrong and weird it is for a grown woman to blatantly sexualise a child, but there are many out there that think Ali Michael’s comments are harmless.

Has the media become so numb to the sexualising of child actors that it takes a 14-year-old to call out the model’s actions as “gross”? It’s only recently that people have been pointing out the media’s inappropriate behaviour towards child actors from the past as well as the present. The Sun did a countdown to Emma Watson’s 16th birthday and there was even a countdown until Mary-Kate and Ashley were “legal.” There wasn’t a huge outbreak of outrage against these comments then, but since the media has developed and expanded since the early 00’s there is an even bigger platform for the public to speak out against this inappropriate behaviour.

Instead, that same outlet is used to publish such ignorance. Finn Wolfhard’s co-star, Millie Bobby Brown, has also faced serious sexualisation in the media since turning thirteen. Grown men tweeted how she has “grown up before our very eyes.” A thirteen-year-old girl is not “grown up.” She is a child. The fact that she wears make-up and fashionable clothes that some may question to be “age appropriate” should not matter because at the end of the day she is still a child.

Speaking about children in such a sexual manner is robbing child actors of their innocence. If a young teenager has to ask people to stop calling him “daddy” because it makes him uncomfortable, what do you think that is doing to his mental health?These kids are fulfilling their dream- but also doing a job. Actors like the ‘Stranger Things’ teens shouldn’t be exposed to sexualisation at such a young age. But until the large media outlets start publicly shaming media platforms for sexually discussing these children and discuss why this is harmful to the young actors, then sexualisation of child actors will continue as it has been over the decades.

Image from The Hollywood Reporter.