Sydney Sweeney has rapidly climbed the ladder to stardom, showcasing her range as an intimidating rich kid in TheWhite Lotus, the complex teen Cassie Howard in HBO's Euphoria, and let's not forget, starring in Quentin Tarantino's box office hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Despite becoming one of the most talked about talents in Hollywood, the 25-year-old recently opened up about the disheartening (often misogynistic) comments and struggles associated with her appearance.
Sweeney told The Sun how she felt "ostracised" for having boobs before other girls at school – and still feels judged because of how she looks to this day.
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"I have big boobs, I’m blonde and that’s all I have," she said, citing one of the biggest misconceptions she wants to prove wrong.
An alarming amount of women fully empathised with Sweeney and related to her comments, saying, they too, were on the receiving end of negative attention for developing earlier than their peers.
"My breasts started developing at 10, and I hated it," one person shared. "I didn't hate my breasts, I hate what came along with them. Being laughed at for wearing a bra, and the sexual comments from classmates, teachers, and even my own grandfather. I get how she feels, It's a horrible experience."
Another woman shared: "Anyone mocking this probably wasn’t catcalled at 10/11 and wasn’t told to cover up for wearing the same things other kids were allowed to wear. When your body becomes sexualised as a child you can start to hate it and blame yourself. It can be honestly awful."
Meanwhile, a third added: "Women, from the time they reach consciousness, are shamed for simply existing so idk why it’s so hard for people to understand that a child developing breasts earlier would lead to scrutiny or feelings of insecurity."
Sweeney's admissions have since flagged an important discussion about the sexualisation of women from a young age. The snide remarks and the problematic snubs can be the cause of long-term damage and plant the seed for self-esteem issues later in life.
"The female brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-twenties and it can be hard to integrate this information when you are still cognitively not an adult," licensed clinical psychologist Dr Stephanie Freitag told Indy100. "Thejumps from childhood to adolescence to adulthood are big ones, and so, it can be hard to be propelled into a stage you are not quite ready for just because your body looks a certain way.
Dr Freitag, who is based in New York, went on to share that women who develop earlier may become sexually active from a younger age. "This may increase the likelihood of sexual assault because they may be less cognitively and emotionally prepared for the challenges of navigating sexuality," she said.
As much as we want to be optimistic in thinking times have evolved and changed, Sweeney went on to tell the publication that her nude scenes in Euphoria led her to be trolled and ridiculed.
For context, one storyline saw her character's naked videos being shared around her school. A plot that would soon be mirrored in the real world too, with people sharing screen recordings to social media and X-rated platforms.
"It got to the point where they were tagging my family. My cousins don’t need that. It’s completely disgusting and unfair," she said. "You have a character that goes through the scrutiny of being a sexualised person at school and then an audience that does the same thing.
It didn't take long for Sweeney to learn about the sad realities of the industry, in which nude scenes are often treated with a double standard mindset.
"When a guy has a sex scene or shows his body, he still wins awards and gets praise. But the moment a girl does it, it's completely different," she explained in a separate sit-down, before highlighting there is a "stigma against actresses who get naked on screen".
Dr Freitag believes that most troll comments are cloaked in misogyny as many of those people who target women "have an underlying hatred of them and their sexuality."
"Plenty of misogyny comes from women too because of how we all are socialised," she continued. "There's a fundamental hatred of female sexuality throughout the world -- we are seeing this in concrete ways with the attacks on women's rights in the US and throughout the world.
"Instead of celebrating the female body for the beauty of its ability to give life, we constantly disparage it. As a result, women are taught to hate their bodies from a young age."
While a zero-tolerance approach is highly unlikely, given that societies have been constructed in patriarchal ways since the dawn of time, Dr Freitag believes there are ways to improve the path going forward.
She said society could start by "addressing social inequality between genders in socialisation from an early age."
Dr Freitag continued: "We can teach young people that all genders are capable of success and deserving of love and that appearance is just skin surface. We can teach young people to be critical of social mores and messages that are based on misogyny rather than equality and compassion."
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