Forty years later, Brooke Shields has been reflecting on the way she was treated as a 15-year-old after starring in a sexualized Calvin Klein campaign, labeling the whole experience as absolutely “maddening.”
The model made an appearance on Dax Shepard‘s Armchair Expert podcast to discuss those infamous ads from the 1980s and the way she was treated by the media because of them. In what has now become one of the brand’s most iconic campaigns, a then-15-year-old Shields strikes various poses in Calvin Klein jeans, delivering different one-liners, including, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
That line scandalized much of America, prompting Calvin Klein to send the model out on a press tour in an attempt to mitigate the backlash. As part of that tour, Shields was interviewed by Barbara Walters and was asked several invasive, personal questions about her sexual history. While discussing the sexualization of young celebrities on the podcast, Shepard labeled the Walters interview “maddening,” and Shields concurred that it was “practically criminal” and “not journalism.”
The model also previously spoke out about her unfair treatment as a young girl in a video for Vogue from October. Of the experience, she said, “I was away when they all came out, and then started hearing, ‘Oh, the commercials have been banned here, and Canada won’t play them.’ And paparazzi and people screaming at me and screaming at my mother, ‘How could you?’ It just struck me as so ridiculous, the whole thing.” She continued, “They take the one commercial, which is a rhetorical question. I was naive, I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think it had to do with underwear, I didn’t think it was sexual in nature. I would say it about my sister, ‘Nobody can come between me and my sister.’”
She added that she was shocked by the public’s reaction to the campaign at the time, which often resulted in her being “berated” in public by viewers who thought she had done it intentionally. “I think the assumption is that I was much more savvy than I ever really was,” she confessed. “If they had intended on the double entendre, they didn’t explain it to me. If they’d explained it to me, why? Would they have wanted me to say it differently? It didn’t faze me, it didn’t come into my sort of psyche as it being anything overtly sexual, sexualized in any way.” She concluded, however, that “There’s an appeal to it that is so undeniable, and they tapped right into it. They knew exactly what they were doing, and I think it did set the tone for decades.”
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