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These days, it’s easy for many to forget that Riverdale star Cole Sprouse was once a child star on the Disney Channel.

Musical stars and acting legends have arisen from that world, but these talented 30-year-olds were once underage stars.

Stars like Miley, Selena, Demi, and others were simultaneously strictly controlled to portray a "chaste" image while being heavily sexualized.

That kind of absurd pressure does terrible things to an adolescent mind, and Cole is speaking up in defense of numerous Disney alums.

Cole Sprouse, Birthday Photo 2018

This week, Cole Sprouse spoke to The New York Times about the lifelong damage done to so many young actresses.

“The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I," he noted.

Things were so different "that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences."

Dylan Sprouse, Pensive

Cole and his twin, Dylan, were both child actors and then teenage actors.

While they were undoubtedly sexualized, both appropriately by their intended audience and inappropriately by adults, the situations cannot be compared.

People will always thirst after attractive actors. Playing games with a young teenage girl’s public image to provoke that thirst is another matter.

“And," Cole acknowledged, "every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience.”

Even women who grew up as child stars on the same network, like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, went through different things.

Men like Cole and Dylan, nonbinary adults like Demi Lovato, are of course going to have their own distinct, complicated relationships with fame.

Miley Cyrus Bouquet

It’s not just that networks know that they’re dangling out bait to be consumed — both to get ratings and make headlines.

Managers, magazines (remember those?), interviewers, marketing teams, sometimes even the stars’ own parents work to get their kids objectified by the public.

Cole noted how quickly people condemn current and former child stars for "going nuts," but don’t seem to consider the trauma behind it.

Amanda Bynes in 2020

“[I’m] violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger," Cole affirmed.

He explained that this is "because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience."

"And," Cole added, "what it takes to recover.”

Demi Lovato in September 2021

Cole also noted that some adult stars can cope enough to be better at hiding the effects of fame.

It doesn’t mean that they’re immune to what it’s like to be thrust into the limelight and to sign away control over your image.

For child stars, they’re getting all of that and more, but with less real life autonomy and fewer coping mechanisms.

We’re the first to admit that Cole might not be the best messenger for this, but he’s right.

From the cold, calculating decisions made by massive entertainment companies to the kinds of parents whose children sometimes become stars, child stars have it rough.

Throw in fans, social media, paparazzi, and toxic cultural forces, and you have a recipe for ruined lives and shattered minds. These people deserve better.