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Sydney Sweeney says she feels dehumanised when people sexualise her body: ‘I have no control’

Sydney Sweeney has spoken candidly about constantly being oversexualised throughout her career.

The Madame Web actor, 26, finally addressed the many “weird” comments people made about her body following her hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. In an interview with Variety published on 18 March, Sweeney admitted that the constant remarks make her feel like she has “no control” over online discourse about her own appearance.

“I see it, and I just can’t allow myself to have a reaction. I don’t know how to explain it - I’m still trying to figure it out myself,” she told the outlet, when asked about the viral reaction to her SNL debut.

“People feel connected and free to be able to speak about me in whatever way they want, because they believe that I’ve signed my life away. That I’m not on a human level anymore, because I’m an actor. That these characters are for everybody else, but then me as Sydney is not for me anymore,” Sweeney said. “It’s this weird relationship that people have with me that I have no control or say over.”

Many fans took to X, formerly Twitter, to applaud Sweeney for speaking out and agreed that online discourse surrounding her appearance has gone too far.

“The way a lot of men talk about Sydney can be so disgusting, it’s no surprise it feels dehumanising to her,” one person wrote, while another fan said: “It’s actually shocking how often people sexualise her, it’s so disgusting.”

Earlier this month, the White Lotus star’s appearance on SNL drew much criticism from viewers for centering some sketches on her body. In one skit, Sweeney portrayed a Hooters waitress who received a ton of tips from male customers who found her attractive. Meanwhile, a promotional clip for the episode - which also featured musical guest Kacey Musgraves and SNL cast member Heidi Gardner - had Sweeney poking fun at herself and her fan base.

“Weirdly, a lot of my fans are men,” she said, to which Musgraves replied: “Hmm, I wonder why.”

This isn’t the first time Sweeney has addressed public perception about her appearance. Speaking to The Independent in 2022, the Euphoria actor explained how she believes there’s “a stigma against actresses who get naked on screen” as she reflected on the reaction to her nude scenes throughout the HBO drama series. “When a guy has a sex scene or shows his body, he still wins awards and gets praise. But the moment a girl does it, it’s completely different,” she said.

The two-time Emmy nominee also admitted how it “bothers” her that most of the attention surrounding her performance is focused on her nude scenes. “I’m very proud of my work in Euphoria. I thought it was a great performance. But no one walks about it because I got naked,” she said. “I do The White Lotus and all of a sudden critics are paying attention. People are loving me. They’re going, ‘Oh my God, what’s she doing next?’ I was like, ‘Did you not see that in Euphoria? Did you not see that in The Handmaid’s Tale?’”

Sweeney later revealed that scrutiny surrounding her body reminded her of challenging times as a young girl, when she felt “ostracised” for developing breasts at an earlier age than her peers. “I had boobs before other girls and I felt ostracised for it,” she told The Sun last year. “You have a character that goes through the scrutiny of being a sexualised person at school and then an audience that does the same thing.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I’m an artist, I play characters. It makes me want to play characters that piss people off more,” she added.

Now, she may have the chance to do just that. Sweeney is currently starring in the horror film Immaculate, in which she also served as a producer, as devout American nun Cecilia who joins an Italian convent. Immaculate hits theatres in the US on 22 March.