Millie Bobby Brown criticizes 'sexualization' and 'insults' she's been facing as she turns 16

The “Stranger Things” star marked her 16th birthday with an important message about growing up in the spotlight.
2019 WWD Beauty Inc Awards
"Stranger Things" star Millie Bobby Brown says "the last few years haven't been easy" for her.Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Ree Hines

Turning 16 is a landmark for any adolescent, but when Millie Bobby Brown marked her own big day online this week, she didn’t focus on sweet celebrations.

Instead, the “Stranger Things” star shared an important message about the “pain and insecurity” that’s come along with growing up in the spotlight.

In a post to her Instagram account Wednesday, Brown, who’s been acting since age 9, wrote that “16 has felt like a long time coming.”

A video she shared alongside her words featured headlines reading, “Millie Bobby Brown criticized for adult style,” “‘Stranger Things’ star leaves Twitter after cyberbullying” and “The truth about Millie Bobby Brown,” while in the background, a reporter can be heard saying that it sounds like the teen “is letting fame get to her head.”

Brown called out the "inappropriate comments, sexualization, and unnecessary insults" she's experienced since being in the spotlight.Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

“The last few years haven't been easy, I'll admit that,” Brown wrote of what she’s experienced during her rise to fame. “There are moments i get frustrated from the inaccuracy, inappropriate comments, sexualization, and unnecessary insults that ultimately have resulted in pain and insecurity for me.”

But she added that “not ever will I be defeated. (I'll) continue doing what i love and spreading the message in order to make change.”

And that change was ultimately what her message was really about — and not just change for her.

“I feel like change needs to happen for not only this generation but the next,” she wrote. “Our world needs kindness and support in order for us children to grow and succeed.”

One issue in particular she’d like to see change is bullying. Just days before her birthday, the actress, who’s also a Goodwill Ambassador with UNICEF, shared a post on the subject in observance of Safer Internet Day.

“If you’re being bullied online right now, it can feel as if you’re being attacked everywhere and there is no escape,” she wrote. “I know from my own experience how devastating this feels. It can be hard to talk about it. Fear, embarrassment and shame can stop you from reaching out. I recently opened up about my story, which wasn’t easy, but I did it because I want anyone out there who is going through the same situation to know that there is help and support.”

But lest her fans concern themselves with the difficulties she’s faced online and beyond, Brown closed her birthday post on a hopeful note: “Don’t worry I’ll always find a way to smile.”