Maisie Williams Opened Up About How "Horrible" It Felt to Hide Her Body On "Game of Thrones"
She told Vogue that there were times when she felt "ashamed" of her body while playing Arya Stark.
Maisie Williams made her acting debut as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones when she was just 14 years old. She grew up on-screen over the course of the show's eight successful seasons, becoming one of our favorite TV heroines in the process.
But it turns out that dressing in character all those years affected the way Williams felt about her body off-screen. In a new interview with Vogue, the 22-year-old actress opened up about what it was like to hide her body for so many years while filming GoT.
"Around Season 2 or 3, my body started to mature and I started to become a woman," Williams explained. But since her GoT character, Arya was regularly dressed in a way that "disguised [her] as a boy," Williams quickly began to feel "ashamed" of her changing body beneath the costume. (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem—and What You Can Do to Stop It)
"I had to have really short hair, and they'd constantly cover me in dirt and shade my nose so it looked really broad and I looked really manly," she shared. "They'd also put this strap across my chest to flatten any growth that had started and that just felt horrible for six months of the year, and I felt kind of ashamed for a while."
Williams isn't the only GoT actor who's struggled with body image during their time on the show. Last year, Gwendoline Christie, who played Brienne of Tarth, opened up to Giuliana Rancic on the Emmys red carpet about how difficult it was to physically transform herself for the role. Christie had previously told Games Radar that she worked with a strength and conditioning expert, who tailored her workouts so she would develop the "body structure of someone that rode horses and did sword-fighting." While Christie ultimately enjoyed embodying a character who challenged traditional beauty standards, she told Rancic that making her body more "masculine" for GoT sometimes affected her emotionally: "It was very challenging, actually, because it meant changing my physical size in a way that wasn't conventionally, aesthetically, pleasing, and that wasn't always very pleasant."
Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark on GoT (Williams' sister on the show), has also been candid about her insecurities. During a recent episode of Dr. Phil's podcast, Phil in the Blanks, Turner revealed that she battled depression and suicidal thoughts when she was 17, due to a flood of body-shaming comments she'd received on social media at the time about her GoT character.
"I would just believe [the comments on social media]," she said. "I would say, 'Yeah, I am spotty. I am fat. I am a bad actress.' I would just believe it. I would get [the costume department] to tighten my corset a lot. I just got very, very self-conscious. You see 10 great comments, and you ignore them, but one negative comment, it throws you off." (Related: Sophie Turner Says Extreme Dieting Made Her Lose Her Period—Here's Why That Can Happen)
Fortunately, the women of GoT often supported one another off-screen through these difficult times. Turner and Williams, for instance, have grown super close IRL since meeting one another on the show. Of their close friendship, Turner told W Magazine: "Maisie and I have the purest form of true, true friendship. She's been my rock. We are kind of the only two people who know what it feels like to go through this very scenario from pretty much the same background, and ending up where we are and kind of finding ourselves as we go. I think that's why people respond so well to our friendship, I guess. They see the true, pure love between us."
These days, Williams told Vogue that she loves learning about fashion and figuring out what her unique style is outside of GoT: "With this new phase of my style, it's nice to look more feminine, and have a real waistline, and just embrace the body that I have."