Mischa Barton Talks About Being Oversexualized as a Child Star

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| LAST UPDATE 06/27/2021

By Danielle Mejia
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If you grew as a 90s kid, there's a pretty good chance that you caught Mischa Barton on your screen at one time or another. And years after her child star status, she's found herself looking back at those pivotal years... And the memories weren't all great.

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Mischa, who plaid Marissa Cooper for the first three seasons of The O.C., opened up about the pressures of growing up on-screen. Mischa started her career way before Fox's breakout series debuted. And while a Hollywood upbringing was a common dream for many children, it came with a price for Barton. In her personal essay for Harper's Bazaar, Mischa shared the downfalls of her career. "I had my first kiss on screen and in real life, in front of an entire crew," she reflected. She elaborated, saying that tackling topics in movies that hadn't occurred in her personal life yet resulted in a rapid maturing.

And it was no different during her time on The O.C. For lovers of early 2000s teen dramas, Summer's character offered viewers a dramatic look into the life of a troubled teenage girl in Orange County. But behind the scenes, Mischa felt a "perpetual fear" to meet the demands placed upon her. And that dynamic left her feeling confused and vulnerable. The truth was that Mischa was playing a character that couldn't have been more opposite to her reality. And in theory, that wasn't a problem, but it did result in pressure and guilt surrounding one aspect of her life in particular.

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"Here, I was playing a confident character who was fast and loose and yet I was still a virgin," Mischa recalled from her time on The O.C. And it spiraled into her personal life. But even as the teen star tried to experience a normal teenagehood, every step was tracked by the paparazzi. Her early years of dating came with invasive stalking and false tabloid gossip. "I couldn't even open my blinds. It was lockdown before there was a name for it," she admitted.

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But after time and healing, Mischa has come out on the other side. And she wants to make sure other child stars avoid the same fate. "If my story can help even one young girl stand up for herself and not let the world tear them down, then all of this will be worth it," she wrote.