Becoming famous at a very young age is often overwhelming for celebrities. Because of their youth, child stars regularly get easily taken advantage of and have a harder time coping with the pressures of fame. Many former child stars have shared the hardships they dealt with during their childhood fame and how it's affected them. These are some celebrities who have opened up:
1.Jennette McCurdy has said that her mom Debbie McCurdy became fixated on making her famous when she was 6 years old. She said, "My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor, and she became obsessed with making me a star."
Jennette also claimed that when she was 10, her mother started bleaching her hair, whitening her teeth, and teaching her how to count calories. By the time she was cast in iCarly, she was struggling with eating disorders.
Jennette's mother died of cancer in 2013, and Jennette went to therapy to help recover from the eating disorders in 2018. She said, "I know if my mom were alive, I'd still have an eating disorder."
2.Shirley Temple's mother Gertrude put her daughter in the industry when she was a toddler. Her first credited role was in War Babies (1932) at 3 years old. It was a sexually suggestive short where children impersonate adults, and in her autobiography, Shirley described it as "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence."
She added that if any of the children in the film acted out, they were locked on a windowless sound booth and forced to sit on a block of ice. In her memoir, she also cited several instances of sexual harassment by studio leads during her childhood career.
3.Alyson Stoner wrote in an essay that at the age of 6, she had to audition for scenes depicting sexual violence and that it took an emotional toll on her.
She also stated that at 12 years old, she was overworked and chronically stressed, which led to her being malnourished and having eating disorders.
She added that many companies made her work more hours than are legal for a minor, that set conditions were inappropriate and hazardous, and that she also experienced sexual harassment.
4.Ariel Winter has opened up about how acting wasn't her choice, but it was her mother's. Ariel said her mother Crystal Workman had dreams of being an actor herself. Ariel said she dealt with a lot of abuse and exploitation with Crystal as her stage mom.
Once Ariel began acting, she said her mom put her on a strict diet and neglected her schooling. Her mother also had her dress in outfits that sexualized her. Ariel claimed her mom put her in “the smallest miniskirts, sailor suits, low-cut things, the shortest dresses you’ve ever seen. People thought I was 24 when I was 12. If there was going to be a nude scene when I was that age, my mother would have a thousand percent said yes.”
Ariel's on-set teacher, Sharon Sacks, said that she got so concerned by the strict diet Ariel was on that she started sharing food with her. She also said that Ariel's mom would keep her out late at parties when she was just 12 and 13 years old. Ariel legally emancipated herself at 14.
5.Macaulay Culkin was managed by his father Kit during his childhood career. He stated that his father was controlling and had him on a very busy filming schedule from 1990-1994. He also said his father made him stay up every night to study the lines he would have to say the next day.
Macaulay asserted that his father was "such a crazy person" that he forced him to do SNL without cue cards when he hosted the show at 11 years old.
“He was a bad man. He was abusive. Physically and mentally,” Macaulay said about his father. He added that his father was also abusive to his mother and siblings. Macaulay Culkin was 15 when his parents separated, and he has not kept contact with his father.
6.Cole Sprouse spoke up about having trauma from childhood fame and how "every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience. When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we're not actually talking about is how fame is trauma."
He added that he and his brother Dylan Sprouse can't even compare their experience to the female child stars on Disney Channel because they "were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age."
7.Raven-Symoné opened up about how when she was a child, she was body-shamed for years and that people in the industry would tell her to watch her weight.
She also claimed she was not allowed to eat on the set of The Cosby Show: "I remember not being able to have the bagel or anything at — we would call it crafty, where it’s just a table of food, ready for you to eat whatever you want. And I remember people would be like, ‘You can’t eat that. You’re getting fat!’ I’m like, ‘I’m 7! I’m hungry!’"
8.Aaron Carter claimed that as a teen pop star, his family spent $500 million of his money on 15 houses and 30 cars. He claimed that when his parents sold the houses, he didn't get a cut of the profits.
He revealed that his dad shot a .44 magnum near his ear — which resulted in him going 70% deaf in one ear — to force him into signing a $256,000 check.
9.Christy Carlson Romano revealed that her mother had tried to get all of her siblings into performing, but that she was the only one who had success with it. At 6 years old, she was already booking small roles on television.
Christy revealed she was devasted after landing the role in Even Stevens, because at the time, she was finally starting to have a normal life in her hometown of Connecticut, was dating a boy, and didn't want to leave her family for Los Angeles. “I’ve never really unpacked how that must have felt, but I know that it was very traumatizing,” she said.
As an adult, she realized how little control she had over her childhood and now feels that parents should only seek out acting opportunities for their kids if it is organic to their dream.
10.Miley Cyrus has stated how the fame from starring on Hannah Montana probably caused her some serious psychological damage. She enjoyed acting and being on the series, but once she started to tour as the Hannah Montana persona, it became too much.
She explained how because she toured as Hannah in real life, people didn't distinguish Miley Cyrus from Miley Stewart, the TV character, and it became harder for her to do so herself. She said, "I think that's what's probably a little wrong with me now. I mark that up to doing some extreme damage in my psyche as an adult person."
11.And lastly, Drew Barrymore's mom Jaid got Drew started in acting at 11 months old in a dog commercial.
Drew became globally famous after starring in E.T. at 7 years old. Drew's mom managed her career and took Drew out with her friends several times a week.
After Jaid divorced Drew's dad, she took 9-year-old Drew to Studio 54 where Drew was first introduced to and encouraged to dance with other young male celebrities. Drew was first introduced to drugs here, and by the age of 12, she'd been in rehab. When asked if she felt exploited by her parents, she replied, “I mean, well, yeah, I think with my mother, it was definitely too out there."
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