Brooke Shields Says Barbara Walters Interview with Her as a Teen Was 'Practically Criminal'

Shields reflected on her now-infamous 1980 Calvin Klein jeans campaign, which came under fire at the time for its perceived sexual innuendo

Brooke Shields is reflecting on the response to her 1980 Calvin Klein jeans campaign.

During an appearance on Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast, Shields spoke about how she was over-sexualized by the media and the public in response to the now-infamous campaign.

In the ads, a then-15-year-old Shields modeled the jeans while reciting different lines, one of which was: "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."

After the backlash, Shields did a number of interviews, including one with Barbara Walters, she was asked a series of intimate and invasive questions about her sexual history.

While discussing the sexualization of young celebrities during the podcast episode, Shepard called her interview with Walters "maddening."

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"It's practically criminal," Shields agreed. "It's not journalism."

Brooke Shields Calvin Klein
courtesy Calvin Klein

In October, Shields spoke about the public backlash she received in the wake of the campaign, calling it "ridiculous."

"I was away when they all came out, and then started hearing, 'Oh, the commercials have been banned here, and Canada won't play them.' And paparazzi and people screaming at me and screaming at my mother, 'How could you?' It just struck me as so ridiculous, the whole thing," Shields recalled.

She continued, "They take the one commercial, which is a rhetorical question. I was naive, I didn't think anything of it. I didn't think it had to do with underwear, I didn't think it was sexual in nature. I would say it about my sister, 'Nobody can come between me and my sister.' "

Brooke Shields, Barbara Walters
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Shields remembered being shocked that she was being "berated" by the public, who assumed she knew the intention behind the commercials. "I think the assumption is that I was much more savvy than I ever really was."

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Regardless of the outcry, the campaign was an overwhelming success, and put Calvin Klein on the map for a whole new demographic.

"I feel like the controversy backfired. The campaign was extremely successful. And then, I think the underwear sort of overtook the jeans, and they understood what sells and how to push the envelope. There's an appeal to it that is so undeniable, and they tapped right into it. They knew exactly what they were doing, and I think it did set the tone for decades."

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