Natalie Portman Said Being Sexualised As A Child Changed How She Portrayed Herself In Public

Natalie Portman has spoken out about she was sexualised from a young age and how it took away from her own sexuality.

Speaking on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Portman opened up about how after playing Mathilda in Léon: The Professional, she started to get overly-sexualised by the public and media.

“I was definitely aware of the fact that like, I was being portrayed, mainly in the kind of journalism around when the movies would come out, as this Lolita figure and stuff,” Portman old Shepard.

“Being sexualised as a child, I think, took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid.

“It made me feel like the way I could be safe was to be like, ‘I’m conservative, and I’m, you know, serious, and you should respect me, and I’m smart and like, don’t look at me that way.’”

Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional

After the success of Léon: The Professional, Portman received her first ever piece of fan mail which was a rape fantasy written by a man. She would later turn down the role of Lolita, which is about an older man who falls in love with a precocious 12-year-old.

“That age, you do have your own sexuality. You do have your own desire, and you want to explore things and you do want to be open. But you don’t feel safe necessarily when there is older men interested,” Portman said.

It says a lot about how women are treated in the public eye, and how they either get pigeon holed as the Marilyn Monroe or the Jackie O (ironically because Portman went on to play her in the Jackie biopic).

In an episode of the TV series Madman called ‘Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?’ it explores that idea.  The point it makes is that the cultural figures represent two different types of women, ‘the sexy blonde’ and ‘the classy brunette’.

Portman chose to be the Jackie by going for ‘less sexy’ movie roles.

“I feel like you build these fortresses around you… and so many people had this impression of me that I was super serious and a prude,” she said.

“As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised I’ve consciously cultivated that, because it was a way to make me feel safe. That, ‘Oh if someone respects you they’re not going to objectify you. ‘”

It’s disappointing that as women we have change our personalities just to feel safe, and unfortunately it’s something a lot of us can relate to.

Even the concept of the ‘bitchy resting face’ is really complicated when you dig deep enough, because sometimes looking uninviting and cold is actually safer.