At just 11 years old, Brooke Shields (New York, 57 years old) became a sexual icon after her leading role in the film the little one (in the original prettybaby, from 1978), in which she played a prostitute girl for whom clients offered their money to see who she lost her virginity to. This was the beginning of a film career that would revolve around the sexualization of her body while she was still a child. More than four decades later, the actress stars in a new documentary, also called prettybaby (and still without translation into Spanish), which can be seen soon on the Hulu platform but which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last Friday. In it, she has revealed an episode of rape that she experienced when she was 20 years old and in which she also talks about the abuse of young people in the Hollywood industry.
It is the first time that Shields has spoken about what happened and, although she has not given the name of the aggressor, she has detailed how the episode that haunted and embarrassed her for years was like. It was 1987. After finishing university, the actress wanted to return to the world of cinema and she had dinner with a producer from the industry to talk about possible projects. After dinner, they returned to the hotel where he was staying and from where he offered to call her a taxi home. “I went up to his room and he disappeared,” the actress now recounts. That man returned to her room a few minutes later, completely naked, and pounced on her: “I was afraid I would drown.”
“I didn’t fight a lot, I didn’t. I froze. A ‘no’ would have been enough, but I just thought, ‘Stay alive and then you’re gone.’ I just shut up and waited,” Shields recounts the rape. When it was all over, she left the room, caught a taxi, and cried “all the way” to a friend’s house. At 57 years old, and almost 40 years after that event, Shields admits that she did not process the rape until a long time later and that during that period she blamed herself for the attack: “I thought I had somehow sent an inappropriate message. I drank wine, I went up to the room… He felt confident”.
Years later, the interpreter sent a letter to her rapist to confront what he had done. But she never got an answer: “I said, ‘You know what? I refuse to be a victim because this is something that happens no matter who you are and no matter if you’re ready or not.” She wanted to erase everything that happened from her mind, but, according to her account, neither her body nor the system, the industry, helped her in the process and she simply had to become stronger and try to turn the page on her own and with the passage of time. In fact, until now, despite having recounted episodes of serious harassment, she had never publicly recounted this violation.
Even so, the actress does not want to talk only about this episode, since the documentary focuses not only on her but on the sexualization of young people in the industry. And no one better than Shields to talk about it. In addition, she also discusses the media’s obsession with her virginity, her mother’s alcoholism, and her first marriage to tennis star Andre Agassi, whom she married in April 1997 after four years of dating. relationship to separate just two years later. Two years later, he would marry fellow tennis player Steffi Graf and she, screenwriter Chris Henchy. Both couples are still married.
Shields’ obstinacy about the sexualization of youth stems from his own. She experienced a provocative nude session at the age of 10. A year later, she played a child prostitute in the little one. At the age of 15, she was part of the filming of the film the blue lake (1980), a film about the sexual maturity and loss of virginity of two young castaways. A year later, she would star in Endless Love (1981) by Franco Zeffirelli. But, without a doubt, what shocked the American public the most was the commercial that he made together with Calvin Klein. In it, the young woman appears promoting jeans with a phrase that has haunted her during her adolescence and throughout her adult life: “Do you want to know what stands between me and my Calvins? Nothing”.
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