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Winona Ryder Opens Up About Being an Aunt & Not Being ‘Crazy’

HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 11: Actress Winona Ryder arrives at the "Black Swan" closing night gala during AFI FEST 2010 presented by Audi held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 11, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

Winona Ryder has been making a lot of headlines lately (and has been the subject of many tweets) because of her lead role in the Netflix original series “Stranger Things.” The show has basically gone viral–everyone is talking about it–and it’s been a sort of a reprisal for Ryder since her role in “Black Swan.”

Ryder, who was born as Winona Laura Horowitz and is Jewish, was recently interviewed in New York Magazine about her role as Joyce Byers, who is a mom of a young boy who goes missing in the hit show. Not a mother herself, a lot of people have asked Ryder how she “understands” what it’s like–to which she explained that her role as an aunt has helped:

“I’m getting asked a lot, ‘You don’t have kids, so how do you know how to act like a mother?’ I know nothing could compare, and I haven’t had that experience, but when my niece was born, I felt like I would jump in front of a car and die for this little person I didn’t even know yet.

I actually felt tremendous compassion for her. I feel like she was one of these people that had dreams [for her life]. But she had kids. And it made me think of all the women that I know who have kids, who when they talk about [anything negative about their lives as mothers], they always say, ‘But I love my kids, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.’ Like they feel guilty for even hinting that they’d want something outside of kids! It’s a weird thing.”

The 44-year-old also went on to say how she hates the fact that women are often regulated into defined roles that limit them–especially when it has to do with being overly emotional and anxious, often being shamed for these traits and subsequently labeled as “crazy.” She stated:

“I’m so sick of people shaming women for being sensitive or vulnerable. It’s so bizarre to me. 

There’s a line in the show where someone says [of her Stranger Things character], ‘She’s had anxiety problems in the past.’ A lot of people have picked up on that, like, ‘Oh, you know, she’s crazy.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, wait a second, she’s struggling.’ Two kids, deadbeat dad, working her ass off. Who wouldn’t be anxious?

Even that word, anxious. It’s a bad word. And so like all of these words — it’s kind of what I tried to do with Girl, Interrupted, and why I was so invested in that book and trying to get it made [as a movie]. My whole point was, this happens to every girl, almost.”

What I love most about Ryder’s interview is the fact that she’s comfortable owning her struggles with her anxiety, depression, and sensitivity in a way that makes it a strength, instead of letting other people shame her for it. In the past, the media has often portrayed her as being unstable, but really, being capable of speaking eloquently about the complexity of her struggles is refreshing.

Ryder explained that however difficult it has been for her to be honest about her depression, she also is glad for it:

“I don’t regret opening up about what I went through [with depression], because, it sounds really cliché, but I have had women come up to me and say, ‘It meant so much to me.’ It means so much when you realize that someone was having a really hard time and feeling shame and was trying to hide this whole thing …

And even the whole, like, sensitive, fragile thing. I do have those qualities, and I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with them. There were times when I let it feel too overwhelming and almost, like, shamed, but I had to just get over that.”

More people like Ryder should exist–because we need to normalize mental health issues, and instead of calling people “crazy,” just say we are all struggling in some way.


Read More:

Sheryl Sandberg Admits She Got It Wrong with ‘Lean In’

My Jewishness Is Not Defined by My Faith in God, But This Instead

Don’t Worry—All The Other Moms Are Faking It Too


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