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The Diary of a Teenage Girl star Bel Powley: We’re not promoting under age sex in the film

The film has been accused of glorifying sex with minors, but
its leading star says the movie’s portrayal of sexuality is much more
nuanced than that
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The Diary of a Teenage Girl
is a coming of age film about a 15-year-old discovering her sexuality,
but the movie has been at the centre of controversy after being given a “disappointing” 18 certificate by an all-male British Board of Film Classification panel.
The film follows school girl Minnie, played by British actress Bel Powley, who becomes obsessed with her sexual feelings after her mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend has sex with her.

Despite only showing one scene of full frontal nudity, in which
Minnie is standing alone in front of a mirror, the film has been given
an 18 rating due to scenes of “strong sex” and a storyline that involves
underage sex with a minor.

Some have claimed the film glorifies paedophilic tendencies, but lead star Powley firmly disagrees.

“Obviously we’re not trying to promote an under-age girl sleeping
with a man 20- years her senior. The story isn’t about that
relationship. It’s about Minnie’s coming of age, about her discovering
her sexuality,” she told The Telegraph.

She added the film gives a rare portrayal of a teenage girl’s true
sexual feelings, something that is not often honestly discussed on
screen.

“Growing up, all I would see in movies was either the virginal
princess waiting for her Prince Charming; the slut who slept with loads
of people then got punished for it; or the asexual, geeky, sarcastic
girl. I remember watching those films and thinking, ‘I’m not like that.
Does that make me a freak?’”

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Bel Powley stars as Minnie in The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The film’s writer, director and producer, who are all women, appealed
for the movie to be given a 15 certificate, but the decision was
overruled by the BBFC.

Director Marielle Heller expressed her disappointment given the
number of films that “tell boys that whatever they feel sexually is
normal”.

“The media has endlessly told teenage girls that boys are the only
ones who are going to want sex. Girls are going to be the ones that
don’t want it. Nobody tells a girl what it’s like if you want to have
sex,” she said.

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Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgård in The Diary of a Teenage Girl

“If you’re a teenage girl that wants to have sex, there’s still this
thing of feeling like a freak because everything you’ve ever read or
seen tells you – you shouldn’t want it.”

Filmmaker have also pointed out that other titles such as Fish Tank
and The Reader, which feature similar storylines of underage sex, were
both given a 15 rating.

Starring Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Wiig, The Diary of a Teenage
Girl is 23-year-old British actress Powley’s first major leading role
in a film.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is released in the UK on US on 7 August.

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