Former Child Actor Says Disney ‘Heavily Sexualized’ Young Female Stars

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Disney actor Cole Sprouse, who had his own sitcom on the channel, said that “fame is trauma” and young women were “heavily sexualized” at early ages by the company.

Sprouse, who starred in the Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” from 2005 to 2008, with his twin brother Dylan, feels “violently defensive” when people revel in the downfalls of fellow female Disney stars like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Demi Lovato.

Lohan served time in jail for multiple DUIs and drug offenses, Spears was put into a 13-year conservatorship after a drug-fueled public meltdown, Lavato overdosed on heroin and fentanyl in 2018. 

“My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, ‘Oh, you made it out! Oh, you’re unscathed!’ No,” he remarked.  

“The young women on the channel we were on [the Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences,” Sprouse explained. “And every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience.” 

Sprouse has been acting since they were cast in 1993’s “Grace Under Fire” at eight months old, then played Ross Gellar’s son Ben in “Friends.” He and his brother went on to star in Adam Sandler’s “Big Daddy,” and Johnny Depp’s “The Astronaut’s Wife,” prior to landing their own Disney series at the age of 12.

“When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we’re not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma,” he went on. “So I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover.”

Sprouse took years off acting to attend New York University for archeology, then came back to Hollywood as an adult to join CW hit “Riverdale” in 2017. He believes that the repercussions of fame are similarly damaging for adults. 

“As I have now gone through a second big round of this fame game as an adult, I’ve noticed the same psychological effects that fame yields upon a group of young adults as I did when I was a child,” he commented. “I just think people have an easier time hiding it when they’re older.”

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