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Drew Barrymore and Brooke Shields have a no nonsense discussion about childhood exploitation

Viewers are praising Barrymore for being able to provide a safe space for difficult conversations.

drew barrymore, brooke shields, pretty baby hulu
"The Drew Barrymore Show"/Twitter, @carolineframke/Twitter

Host Drew Barrymore discusses childhood exploitation in Hollywood with Brooke Shields.

Drew Barrymore is the master of delivering raw, intimate and thought-provoking interviews in a refreshingly sincere way. But across the board, folks are feeling like her discussion with actress and model Brooke Shields hits a little different.

Both former child stars got their own personal glimpse into the darkness of Hollywood at an early age—Barrymore being introduced to drugs at only 9 years old, and Shields’ entire career being ignited by a role in which she was an object of sexual desire when she was 12.

Now, at age 48 and 57 and in their full autonomy, the two women reflected on those experiences on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” in what people are hailing as an “intense,” yet ultimately “powerful” and “healing conversation.”


One particular gem occurred when Barrymore asked Shields how being sexually exploited during childhood affected her feeling toward the #MeToo movement.

“This is gonna seem like a very weird turn,” Barrymore said in her signature move of sitting close to Shields on the couch. “But how did you feel about the Me Too movement, in the sense of, I didn't feel like I had a dog in that race.”

She continued: “I didn't feel like I could speak to it, because I experienced things that were so inappropriate at such a young age...We were children. How did that movement affect you? Did you feel like you could speak to it?”

Similarly, Shields felt like she didn’t know where she “fell on the spectrum of it,” adding that “being made to feel culpable” made it additionally hard to interpret her experience.

“You know, you victim-shame yourself,” she shared.

Shields also added that this behavior towards children was so commonplace in the industry that it even felt “appropriate,” causing her to deny much of what she was going through at the time.

This, of course, is not a feeling exclusive to only celebrities. As someone wrote in response to the clip, “When things happen to us as children it’s easy to bury it, brush it off, put it in the back of your head. Sometimes questioning if it happened because as adults it’s hard to remember and often too painful.”

For both women, it wouldn’t become clear that something wrong had happened to them until they became mothers themselves, a kind of hindsight that many parents can probably relate to.

This prompted Barrymore to ask, “What do we say to young girls who are out there on Instagram, on social media, doing the same things we did?”

Shields’s answer is both astute and wise.

“They’re not gonna listen,” she says. “But, you know, they’re gonna have to process it on their own. Because they think they’re in control...So you’re gonna have to try to balance it. But, you just keep talking. Keep talking to them.”

It’s worth noting, as many viewers pointed out, that having those difficult conversations is much more achievable when in a safe and sensitive environment. This is why people are praising Barrymore for creating this sort of intimacy that other talk shows sometimes fall short of.

“Remarkable how Drew is facilitating so many open conversations that only ever happen behind closed doors, if at all,” one person wrote.

Kudos to these two women for having the courage to speak openly. Indeed, it’s not always easy, but transparency often helps others not feel alone, and it helps to keep history from repeating itself.

“Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields,” a documentary which documents the actress’s journey from a sexualized young girl to a woman who embraces her identity and voice, is now available to watch on Hulu.

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