- Mischa Barton wrote a personal essay for Harper’s Bazaar U.K. that was published on Friday.
- Barton, 35, wrote about being oversexualized at a young age.
- She also discussed the negative media attention she received and how it affected her mental health.
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Mischa Barton reflected on her time in Hollywood as a young actress, noting that she was oversexualized as a teenager and felt pressure to lose her virginity.
On Friday, Harper’s Bazaar U.K. published a personal essay written by “The O.C.” star titled, “Mischa Barton: The grim truth about growing up in the public eye.”
Barton, 35, wrote that the Covid-19 pandemic allowed her the opportunity to “reflect upon the trauma” that she kept private for fear of rejection and victim-blaming.
“The truth is that sexuality has always been a component of my career. Even from a young age, I was sexualised,” she wrote.
Barton noted that her debut film, “Lawn Dogs,” dealt with adult themes, and her 1999 film “Pups” also had mature content.
“Two years later, I did Pups with Burt Reynolds,” wrote Barton. “Lead roles in coming-of-age films are always directly tied to sex and sexuality, and this was a prime example. It was for Pups that I had my first kiss on screen and in real life, in front of an entire crew. My character had her first period in one scene, something I hadn’t even experienced in life yet.”
She continued: “The movie blew up in Asia, and I became a strange sex symbol over there. I was 13.”
Barton then recalled her role as Marissa Cooper on the popular T.V. series, “The O.C.,” when she was 18. She explained that she felt “pressured into meeting needs, demands and goals set by people twice my age or older.”
Barton also said she felt like a “fraud” because she wasn’t sexually active like her on-screen character.
“Here, I was playing a confident character who was fast and loose and yet I was still a virgin,” wrote Barton. “The kids in the show were quintessential rich, privileged American teenagers drinking, taking drugs, and of course having sex. I knew it was important to get this thing – my virginity – that was looming over me, the elephant in the room if you will, out of the way.”
She added: “I started to really worry that I couldn’t play this character if I didn’t hurry up and mature a little.”
During this time, Barton wrote that she was pursued by “older men in their thirties” and eventually “did the deed.”
“I feel a little guilty because I let it happen. I felt so much pressure to have sex, not just from him, but society in general,” wrote Barton.
The personal essay then delved into the media and the paparazzi’s treatment of Barton during her career. Barton wrote that the constant frenzy negatively affected her mental health, resulting in panic attacks and PTSD.
“In the years afterwards, cameras would bother me; any noises that sounded like a shutter would give me a panic attack and make me extremely paranoid,” wrote Barton.
Barton finished the essay by acknowledging the MeToo era and the hope it has inspired for young women.
“The more we talk about what we’ve done to generations past, whether it be Britney Spears, who was so poorly treated by the press, or Natalie Portman talking about how she felt overly sexualised as a child, the sooner we can protect our young women and learn from our mistakes as a society,” she wrote.