Millie Bobby Brown engaged at 19: another child star lost to early adulthood

Millie Bobby Brown gets engaged at the age of 19.

Gianna Galesi

Millie Bobby Brown gets engaged at the age of 19.

When the first season of Stranger Things released in 2016 and took the world by storm, the young unknown actress with a shaved head and big brown eyes was an immediate favorite amongst fans. Millie Bobby Brown was just eleven years old when she began acting on the hit series, twelve when the show was released and she was launched to instantaneous fame.
In the years since, it has been hard for Brown to shake the public perception of her as that young girl they first saw on their screens back in season one, despite her now being nineteen years old. Despite her best efforts, it feels the general public struggles to see her as grown.

So much so that the adults comprising her team have been criticized for the uncomfortable way Brown has been styled at red carpet events and such. From her early teens, Brown has been styled to look incredibly mature, with many indicating she is almost indistinguishable from a full grown adult in their late twenties or even early thirties.
The concern that Brown has had to grow up too fast, all in the public eye, is nothing new. Back in 2021 the story broke that the star’s parents had allowed a then 16-year-old Brown to be in a relationship with a 20-year-old grown man, Hunter Echo of TikTok fame. Echo alleges Brown’s parents even allowed him to live with the family for a shocking eight months prior to the two’s split.

This is indicative of an obvious failure to protect the star, who as a young girl in Hollywood is already far more susceptible to exploitation. Rather, it seems Brown’s parents have often encouraged dangerous behaviors that force the teen to behave as a grown woman.

On April 11th, Brown continued to shock fans when she took to Instagram to show off her new engagement ring, posing with her boyfriend of two and a half years, Jake Bongiovi. Discourse ran rampant online as the public asked themselves “wasn’t she just like fifteen?”

While Brown is legally an adult, it is also important to note that at nineteen years old the adolescent brain is not finished developing. In fact, The National Institute of Health asserts that the prefrontal cortex (responsible for decision making) only reaches maturation after about twenty-five years.

Though this is not to criticize Brown, but rather the adults in her life who have put her in the uncomfortable position of needing to mature years beyond her appropriate age due to the high pressure environment she was raised in.
It is an unfortunate and tragic pattern we as a society have seen all too many times; a child star desperate to break out of the image they are confined within, either acting out in protest or generally growing up at an unrecognizable rate.

The fact is that Brown is still a teenager, only having turned nineteen this past February. She was robbed of a chance at a typical childhood, instead being susceptible to public scrutiny, sexualization, and general opinion all from an extremely young age.

While the public should only wish the best for the young couple, it is impossible to ignore the tragedy of it all; this young girl has been allowed, and even encouraged, to act years beyond her true level of maturity – all so that adults in her life may profit off her fame and legacy.