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At 14, Maisie Williams debuted as Arya Stark on HBO's Game of Thrones. Now 24, the actress is looking back on that time of her life and how going through puberty on set impacted her self-esteem.
In a new interview with GQ UK, Williams shared that her personal coming of age journey was fairly different than her character's, which played a part in how the British star related to her body. "I think that when I started becoming a woman, I resented Arya because I couldn't express who I was becoming," she acknowledged. "And then I also resented my body, because it wasn't aligned with the piece of me that the world celebrated," referencing Stark's tomboyish appearance.
Williams also shared that during filming one season she has handed a bra in the costume trailer, which was described as a "coming-of-age moment." She had previously admitted on 60 Minutes that she wore a strap to "reverse" the appearance of "puberty" while Arya was pretending to be a boy. "And then it got to the point where the strap was no longer working. So I was about 15, right, and they gave me, like, this little chubby belly, so it would, like, even out the playing field," she said. "And then, yeah, I was about 15 years old — like, I kind of just want a boyfriend, honestly. I don't want to wear this."
Following the end of GoT, Williams wasted no time in changing her style — including dyeing her hair pink — which she said to GQ was both personally and professionally motivated.
“I was rejecting a lot of the pieces of me and my image that I’d been so well known for. It was more that I needed to express myself," she reflected. “I think that sometimes other people need a helping hand to see that you’re a different person, and I don’t resent that.”
“The more I tried to be like, ‘Am I like her? Am I like him?’ the more confused I got," she added. "Now I just feel like I am doing everything I want to do when I want to do it.”
But, as she noted, worrying about what people think of you is par for the course for many young people today — especially for those living in big cities like London.
“We subconsciously base our goals and achievements on the way they’re viewed by other people,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter whether or not you achieve those things, because it’s for the satisfaction of someone else. It never feels as good as you pictured it in your head.”
As for the demands from GoT superfans about a possible Arya spin-off, Williams puts those rumors to rest: "It has to be the right time."
“I’m not saying it would never happen, but I’m also not saying it in this interview so that everyone goes [gasp] ‘The spin-off! It’s coming!’ Because it’s not," she mused. "It has to be the right time and the right people. It has to be right in the context of all the other spin-offs and the universe of Game of Thrones.”
This isn't the first time Williams has spoken out about how beauty standards impact her self-esteem. Just before GoT ended in 2018, the actress acknowledged she was worried about how her looks will affect her career.
“It’s only now I’m starting to realize the characters that are available to me because of the way I look and the characters that aren’t available to me,” she told the Irish Times.
"I don’t look like someone who is cast in roles that are, well, sexualized,” she added. “I think it’s sad that you only get to see one type of beautiful on screen,” she said.
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