Rita Moreno, 89, Says 'F--- Them' to Critics of Her Provocative Style: 'You Can Dress Any Damn Way You Please'

The EGOT-winner looks back on her life and career in her new documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

Rita Moreno
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty

Rita Moreno is reflecting on some of her past fashion moments with a modern perspective.

In her new documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, the iconic EGOT-winner opens up about being cast as a sex symbol early on in her career — and shared how societal norms during the height of her career in the 1950s and '60s impacted the situation in an interview with Yahoo News about the upcoming film.

"The truth is, it never occurred to me not to withstand it," Moreno, now 89, told the outlet of the abuse and unwanted attention she received from men in the industry. "I figured, and I was right, that that was how Hollywood was run and how it functioned. And I just went with the flow, as they say, not happily."

The West Side Story star went on to say that her experiences caused her to seek psychotherapy, which was "probably the best favor I ever did myself."

Moreno also told Yahoo News that she hated her "sex object" status, but that didn't stop her from dressing provocatively.

Rita Moreno
Silver Screen Collection/Getty

"And here's the truth, and this is something I didn't mention [in the film] only because I didn't think about it. I would dress up in a very, very provocative way. I always wore tight, tight little dresses with my cute little bum," she said. "Too much makeup, usually. And the earrings and stuff, and I somehow never acknowledged that that wasn't helping."

But with the benefit of hindsight, the star said, it shouldn't have made a difference what she wore — the treatment she received was never warranted. "As the #MeToo movement would say right now: 'Well, f---- them!" she said. "You can dress any damn way you please. You can wear as many loop earrings, and as low-cut a neck as you want, and that's also true."

Ahead of the film, Moreno told PEOPLE she has no plans to slow down or retire anytime soon.

"I'm still active and still working," she said. "I worry and stress a lot less now because I'm so grateful," she said. "I stop and smell the roses."

Rita Moreno
Monica Schipper/Getty

In addition to taking audiences through her most recognizable work in hit films like West Side Story (1961) and Singin' in the Rain (1952), along with her work on television in The Electric Company and Netflix's One Day at a Time, the film, directed by Mariem Pérez Riera, touches on Moreno's past traumas: being raped by her agent early in her career, her volatile relationship with Marlon Brando which led to a suicide attempt in 1961, and the unhappiness she felt in her 45-year marriage to cardiologist Leonard Gordon, who died in 2010.

Moreno said she was "amazed" by the finished cut, including some of the personal stories she shared herself.

"I made a promise to myself that if I was going to do this, I was going to be as truthful as possible," she shared. "And that promise was tested. There are things that I told that surprised me."

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