"I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own"
Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran has spoken up about the online abuse that drove her off social media.
Kelly Marie Tran has broken her silence about the online harassment that drove her to delete her social media posts.
In June, Tran deleted her Instagram posts after “months of harassment”. At the time, Olivia Munn and co-star Mark Hamill defended the Vietnamese American actress, whilst hate group ‘Give Us Legends’ took pride in driving her off Instagram.
For the first time since then, Tran has spoken up about the incident and her views on online harassment. In a piece for The New York Times titled ‘I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment’, Tran explains how hurtful the absue was to her.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” Tran says at the start of her piece. “Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”
Tran said the harassment reminded her of the racial prejudice she suffered whilst growing up. “Those words awakened something deep inside me — a feeling I thought I had grown out of,” she explains. “The same feeling I had when at 9, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me.”
Even as a late teenager, Tran was still facing discrimination. “At 17, when at dinner with my white boyfriend and his family, I ordered a meal in perfect English, to the surprise of the waitress, who exclaimed, “Wow, it’s so cute that you have an exchange student!””
Tran goes on to state that the harassment “reinforced a narrative” that she was the “other” and “didn’t belong”.
The 29-year-old actress said she felt “shame” for what made her different whilst the “same society taught some people they were heroes”.
For Tran, the worst part was that she started to blame herself. “I thought, “Oh, maybe if I was thinner” or “Maybe if I grow out my hair” and, worst of all, “Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.” For months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth.”
However, she then realised she had been “lied too”.
“I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval,” she recalls. “I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion.”
“I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place.”
In related news, Tran was recently confirmed to be reappearing in Star Wars Episode IX.