Stop sexualizing and harassing the Stranger Things cast

Recently, Spanish radio company PlayFM spoke about the W Magazine cover which named Millie Bobby Brown as one of the reasons “Why TV is Sexier Than Ever.” The magazine also included her in one of their online galleries called “11 Actors Who Prove TV Has Never Been Hotter.

If you don’t know who Millie Bobby Brown is, here are some basic facts about her: she plays Eleven on Stranger Things, she’s won a Screen Actors Guild Award and an MTV award, she has been nominated for an Emmy, and she’s been on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

She’s also 13.

Folks, W magazine labeled a 13-year-old sexy. People immediately called the magazine out for including her on lists meant for adult actresses. “Seeing Millie Bobby Brown classified as sexy in an article is disgusting. She is a CHILD. A successful up and coming actress. NOT SEXY,” one Twitter user expressed.

You don’t need to think too hard to realize that it’s quite disturbing for an adult watching Stranger Things to focus more on the sex appeal of people like Brown and her 14-year-old co-star Finn Wolfhard than their acting abilities.

Speaking of Wolfhard, he was the subject of an Instagram Story posted by 27-year-old model Ali Michael with the caption “not to be weird, but hit me up in four years.” After other social media users criticized her, Michael apologized, trying to convince everyone that “it was never [her] intention to sexualise a minor.” Wolfhard responded, calling the situation “gross.”

Why are adults so keen on having famous young teenage celebrities act and appear older than they are? By including them on “sexiest” lists, the media is actively perpetuating this unhealthy trend.

Furthermore, gossip and lifestyle websites do their part by criticizing the stylists of these young stars for dressing them too “age-appropriate.” This occurs often in coverage of award shows — as if dressing a 13-year-old girl to look her age is too “childish.” At the MTV awards in May, Insider bitingly labelled Brown as looking “comfy but lost in a shapeless white dress.” This, of course, raises the question of why anyone should be concerned about seeing any sort of shape.

This is not the only example of fans being strangely voyeuristic when it comes to these child stars. Last week, fans of Stranger Things complained on social media when Wolfhard entered his hotel without stopping to engage with them. Shannon Purser — who played Barb on the show – reminded people that no one has any obligation to stop for fans if they don’t want to. Generally, celebrities should not be expected to completely give up on their privacy, and that holds doubly true for minors.

They might appear to be unrelated issues, but they boil down to the same problem: people forgetting that their favourite child actors are kids. Of course, adults also have every right to privacy, and every right not to be sexualized against their will. But minors especially need to have their rights respected, and you have a responsibility to show that respect.