If you're not familiar with former Disney Channel actress Bella Thorne, let me catch you up.
Bella starred opposite Zendaya on the dance themed Disney channel show, "Shake It Up". It's been a couple of years since the show ended and both Zendaya and Bella have moved onto other projects. But, like many former Disney stars, Bella is taking some time to throw a little shade Disney Channel's way.
In an interview with Nylon Magazine Bella revealed the lengths to which she went to preserve her wholesome Disney image.
Finally, when I got off the [Disney] Channel, I stopped listening to people telling me that I needed to be this and that [...] I literally would talk with a higher voice in interviews because that was the whole innocent Disney appeal.Bella Thorne
I love you guys. I love the acceptance. I wish there was more of that in the world. pic.twitter.com/maPoVwjDj4— bella thorne (@bellathorne) April 22, 2016
That's not the first time a star has spoken publically about being a "fake" person to maintain a good working relationship with the Disney Channel. Late last year Miley Cyrus compared her time on the Disney Channel to TLC's Toddler's and Tiaras
From the time I was 11, it was, ‘You’re a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing.’ Meanwhile, I’m this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. It was like ‘Toddlers & Tiaras.’ I had f–king flippers.Miley Cyrus
Miley then went on to share that she believes her time on the Disney Channel contributed to some body dysmorphia issues.
Similarly, former Disney actress Demi Lovato has spoken about the damage that the Disney artifice can cause. "Just because you're on the Disney Channel and you always have a smile on your face, they think you're perfect, and it's obvious that nobody's life really is." Demi went to rehab in 2011 to receive treatment for bulimia, self harm, and substance abuse. She even slammed her former employer that same year.
Dear Disney Channel, EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT SOMETHING TO JOKE ABOUT.— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) December 24, 2011
Bella's confession may not be the exact same as other former Disney channel actresses' experiences but it's still an important story to be told. When certain cultural institutions box up their talent and manage them to within an inch of their lives, there will always be consequences that have lasting and far reaching effects for these actresses.
Just as in the music industry, we need to help create safer spaces for young women in acting and work towards having their stories told in the mainstream. No one should have to pretend to be something they're not in real life just to keep their spot on a TV show.