Natalie Portman opens up about being sexualized at 12 years old

Natalie Portman speaks at The Women's March Featuring: Natalie Portman Where: Downtown Los Angeles, California, United States When: 20 Jan 2018 Credit:

Speaking at the Los Angeles Women's March on Saturday, actress Natalie Portman revealed the troubling reality of being sexualized at 12 years old, after the debut of her first Hollywood movie.

After the release of the 1994 film, "The Professional," Portman discovered the challenges of being a woman in Hollywood and struggled to be taken seriously.

"I was so excited at 13 when the film was released and my work and my art would have a human response," she told a group of activists gathered for the L.A. Women's March.

"I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me. A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with," she continued.

The environment around her, that included movie reviewers commenting on her underage body, led Portman to realize "that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe."

Portman describes how she focused on her work, being studious and built up a reputation of being "prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious" in order to ensure her safety and ability to express herself.

"At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me," she said. "I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world: that I'm someone worthy of safety and respect."

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