watch

How Millie Bobby Brown Overcame the Child Star Curse in Stranger Things’ Digital Age

How is Millie Bobby Brown breaking free of the child star curse? Ever since her role as Eleven on Stranger Things shot 12-year-old Millie to fame in 2016, she’s been navigating the rocky path from child star to adult superstar – and it’s not been easy. Because fans love Eleven so much, not everyone has been so happy about Millie expressing her own personality or developing from a cute child into a full-on woman. Millie is teaching us all to grow up with poise and confidence – and exposing a lot of what’s pretty shocking in today’s culture along the way.

Transcript

How is Millie Bobby Brown breaking free of the child star curse? Ever since her role as Eleven on Stranger Things shot 12-year-old Millie to fame in 2016, she’s been navigating the rocky path from child star to adult superstar – and it’s not been easy.

“I’m still trying to navigate this all and it’s still overwhelming.” - Millie Bobby Brown, Instagram Livestream

Millie excels at bringing Eleven’s supernatural, yet relatable experience to life – and Eleven captures something universal about the awkwardness, trials, and joys of growing up. But because fans love Eleven so much, not everyone has been so happy about Millie expressing her own personality or developing from a cute child into a full-on woman.

From the age of 13, Millie’s been massively trolled and subjected to cruel social media bullying. While leading up to her turning 18 she’s experienced gross amounts of inappropriate attention. We might hope that today there’d be more protections in place for young female stars to avoid the trials past ones went through, but Millie’s experience has shown that, sadly, today’s heavily online culture may be making some of these pressures even worse.

“As much as I’m very grateful for it, I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while…” - Brown, MTV News

But through it all, Millie has handled the pressure gracefully – turning her own experience of being bullied into motivation to become an anti-bullying spokesperson

“There should be no space in this world for bullying and I’m not going to tolerate it.” - Brown, MTV

– getting named to the Time 100 list and becoming the youngest-ever UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2018; oh, and building a Gen-Z clean beauty empire ”Florence by Mills” in her spare time.

Here’s our take on how Millie Bobby Brown is teaching us all to grow up with poise and confidence – and exposing a lot of what’s pretty shocking in today’s culture along the way.

Beating the Child Star Curse in a Digital Age

The hardest thing about being a child or teen star is facing all the usual challenges of growing up while being in the public eye. These days, the predatory media and tabloids don’t have the same level of power to terrorize young female celebrities the way that they did in the 2000s, with celebrities now having social media platforms to clap back or issue statements regarding sensationalized headlines. But our online world is a more unregulated, Wild Wild West of toxicity – from anonymous trolls and senseless bullying, to tons of inappropriate content that fetishizes famous girls who are under, or on the verge of, 18.

Despite the scrutiny she’s under, Millie’s own behavior has been mostly scandal-free. Yet there’s always been a lot of tension around and directed at Millie – and much of this centers on mixed feelings about her getting older and becoming more adult. Fans have a strong attachment to Millie’s beloved, signature character, Eleven, and from the start of Millie’s public appearances for the show, some have found it jarring that Millie’s personality is apparently quite different from Eleven’s.

Eleven barely speaks, while Millie is loquacious and outgoing, already confidently cracking jokes when she was a 12-year-old on major talk shows. Eleven also has a childlike innocence, and even in later seasons retains a not-overly-sexualized, often boyish presentation. Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of controversy and debate around whether Millie should be dressing and presenting as a woman.

“I’m going into more body style dresses now. Because I would always do the poofy dresses because I was 12, and 13, and 14.” - Brown, Access Hollywood

She gets flack for supposedly dressing “older” on red carpets, like when she wore an all-white Louis Vuitton ensemble to the 2020 SAG Awards, and when some claimed she looked like a “40-year-old woman” at the Stranger Things Season 4 premiere. But that’s kind of an odd criticism, since trying to look a bit more grown-up than you really are is a pretty normal part of being a teenager.

“I’m 16 now; I am growing up. My fashion sense is becoming more, you know, fitted to my body” - Brown, Access Hollywood

Far more problematic has been the faction of the internet that has been fetishizing Millie to a gross extent since she turned 18, and even well before that.

“Within the last two weeks of turning 18, definitely seeing a difference between the way people act and the way the press and social media have reacted to me. And so I have been dealing with that but have also been dealing with it for forever.” - Brown, Access Hollywood

At 14, she revealed that Drake had been texting her with relationship advice – and while Millie insisted it was all totally appropriate, the news (plus the fact that Drake has given attention to a number of female teens) sparked a conversation about the sexualization of young actresses. And one creepy Reddit thread even set up a countdown to Millie’s 18th birthday. In her personal life, Millie’s ex, social media influencer Hunter Echo, made disgusting remarks on a livestream when called out for their inappropriate relationship.

“‘Imagine being a grown adult and dating a kid, groomer.’ I know… I groomed her” - Hunter Echo, Instagram Livestream

Millie, who came of age in the MeToo era, has always been confident and outspoken about how this unwanted online attention makes her uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the story of how Millie became the subject of online bullying is a revealing look at the cruelty and seeming randomness of anonymous trolls. When Millie was only 14, a troll Twitter account by the name of “Kelsey Fiona” posted a fake story about Millie forcing her to remove her hijab and stomping on it. From there the #takedownmilliebobbybrown led to other fabricated anecdotes of Millie being nasty, bigoted, or racist. Eventually, this blew up into a viral meme featuring fake quotes of Millie being homophobic. Some justified the nonsense meme by saying it was just meant to be ridiculous and darkly funny, but as it got more and more widely shared, a number of people believed these were real stories about Millie. The situation became so stressful that Millie temporarily deactivated her Twitter in 2018 – and these memes continue to get shared to this day.

“When I was on a social media platform that was generating a lot of hate and, uh, shade, I just felt like I didn’t want to be part of something that was enjoying that and kind of embracing that.” - Brown, MTV News

But impressively, Millie has responded to all this random, senseless hate by attempting to be a force for positivity. Her Twitter handle is called @Milliestopshate – and says it aims to “share love and positivity” and “stop bullying.” She’s spoken out against bullying in her 2018 MTV award acceptance speech and as a UNICEF ambassador.

One good thing about our social media era is that – while you can’t really stop all the toxic trolls – a public figure like Millie can leverage their own platform to be a voice for good. Millie has been proactive in talking about these things, and she’s put herself in a position of power as a spokesperson. In addition to building up a lucrative beauty brand, she has started taking control of her acting career by producing and executive producing some of her films like Enola Holmes and 2023’s Damsel.

Eleven is an inspirational figure, helping many people, young and old, process what it takes to come into your own as an unsure young kid facing adversity. And Millie has had to undergo that process in our confusing modern world. So while it’s been hard to watch what she’s been subjected to at times, it’s been aspirational to see her rise to the occasion and show us all how it’s done.

“Youth is extremely powerful, and if we use our voice and spread messages, we could actually save the world.” - Brown, Buzzfeed

Source

Nolan, Emma. “Millie Bobby Brown Will Be Due ‘Public Apologies’ in 10 Years—Viral Tweet.” Newsweek, 30 May 2022.

https://www.newsweek.com/millie-bobby-brown-public-apology-online-treatment-memes-homophobic-stranger-things-1711294

Boucher, Ashley. “Millie Bobby Brown Apologizes for Pretending to Apply Her Skincare Products in Recent Video.” People, 12 Sept. 2019.

https://people.com/style/millie-bobby-brown-apologizes-pretending-apply-skincare-products-in-demo-video/

Gallagher, Brian. “Millie Bobby Brown’s, 15, SAG Awards ‘Mature’ Outfit Criticized on Social Media: ‘She Looks like she’s in her ’30s.’” Daily Mail, 22 Jan. 2020.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-7914793/Millie-Bobby-Browns-15-SAG-Awards-mature-outfit-criticized-social-media.html