Rowan Blanchard always knew that catcalling was a problem, but she never expected it to happen to her – until it did, at just 12 years old.
“I remember I was at a movie with my friend, and we were both in skirts,” Blanchard, 14, recalls to Interview magazine. “We were waiting outside the movies for my dad to pick us up, and this grown man came over and was like, ‘You guys need a ride anywhere?’ I was 12 years old and my friend was 15. And I just remember sitting there feeling my heart sink into my stomach.”
The Girl Meets World star says it completely changed how she looks at people.
“It was such a surreal moment,” she says. “Because I always see that happening in front of me; I always see girls getting catcalled. But up until that point, I hadn’t experienced it. And it was like I was out-of-body for a second.”
“I had seen that in movies, on TV, on the news. But when it happens to you, it’s like, ‘Oh, crap, this is real; people look at me this way. And people look at other girls this way.’ “
Blanchard says she blamed herself at first.
“I went home that night and didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed that it was what I was wearing. I was like, ‘Gosh, I shouldn’t wear a skirt next time. What am I doing?’ “
After realizing that it wasn’t her fault, Blanchard decided that she wanted to help other girls recognize that these incidents are a problem, and to know that they’re not alone if it happens to them.
“I didn’t want them ever going through that,” she says. “I just started doing it because I couldn’t bear it anymore.”
So she started posting more on her Tumblr and Twitter about being a feminist. And she’s since opened up more on social media – in January, Blanchard tweeted that she doesn’t want to classify her sexuality.
“In my life – only ever liked boys,” she wrote. “However I personally don’t wanna label myself as straight, gay or whateva so I am not gonna give myself labels to stick with – just existing.”