Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields on Hulu 27 May 2024

Just watched *Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields* on Hulu. It’s a documentary in two parts – each about a little over an hour each. Part one is from her start as a model at 11 months old to her college graduation. Part two is her post-college career including her two marriages.

But this not just a timeline of her life. In addition to interviews with Shields, there are various academic talking heads telling us how these sexualization of girls fit in society at the time and today. There are also friends of Shields talking about what it was like for her. Shields herself says she disassociated during some of the scenes in order to get through them. Her first kiss was as a an 11yo kissing an adult Keith Carradine in *Pretty Baby*. The director of *Endless Love* wanted her to show ecstasy when she loses her virginity but her face is blank since she had no idea what that is at 16yo, so he violently twists her toe so that he gets the look he wants on her face.*

And while the male directors are lauded for the movies, her mother Teri gets all the criticism for allowing her young daughter to star in what many are calling soft porn. We know those movies could not be made today as they were in the 70s and early 80s – now they have women in their 20s portray teenagers.

In the 80s she was everywhere. And in college they want her to write book and she knows exactly what she wants to write – about missing her mother, calling her five times a day, and going home every weekend from Princeton. There are other things she wants to write about the reality of college life. Instead, the publishers basically write for her a vapid book about college but she does include one page about being a virgin at 20yo and what that means to her (her mother wanted that added to the book) and when Shields is out promoting the book, all anyone wants to talk about is the fact that she’s still a virgin.

There’s no holding back. She reveals that when finally offered her first movie job after college, she is raped by a movie executive (she never names him). She leaves her controlling mother by marrying a controlling man (Andre Agassi). She talks about the difficulty in getting pregnant with her current husband Chris Henchy and then finally having a baby and suffering from severe postpartum depression.

Her two daughters are teenagers and at the dinner table they have a serious conversation about the exploitation of their mother and how they will not watch her early films. Her youngest daughter wants to be a model and at first Shields says no but finally gives in because she knows it’s going to happen anyway.

It is an in-depth look at a career that caused a lot of controversy when she was a girl and how Shields got through it and finally finds her own agency when she’s in her 40s and 50s. Being a single child of an alcoholic mother means she had to be mature beyond her years – she was the breadwinner and had to physically take care of her mother as a young girl.


*When I used to watch movies that had rape scenes (now I avoid them), I remember that the usually the pain on the actress’ faces could also easily be interpreted as ecstasy by a lot of men.

By Carene Lydia Lopez