Beware before criticizing Gen Z. Amandla Stenberg has taken to Instagram to defend herself after sending an indignant message to New York Times film critic Lena Wilson after she negatively reviewed Stenberg’s film Bodies Bodies Bodies. After referring to the A24 film as “a 95-minute advertisement for cleavage” in her review, Wilson shared on Twitter that Sternberg direct messaged her on Instagram.
“Your review was great,” the message read. “Maybe if you had gotten your eyes off my tits you would’ve watched the movie!”
Wilson tweeted a screenshot of Stenberg’s message on Wednesday evening with the caption “do you think she instagram DM’d Alison Willmore, Justin Chang, and Anthony Lane like this or”—referencing other critics who reviewed the film. her tweet and viral, spurring backlash against the Bodies Bodies Bodies star. On Thursday, Stenberg took to her Instagram stories to explain her reasoning for sending the salacious DM.
“I have been receiving a lot of commentary on the internet for being a very naughty girl and sending a DM that I thought was hilarious,” Stenberg says, choking back laughter.
She continues: “There’s a film critic and her name is Lena Wilson. She described [Bodies Bodies Bodies] as a 95 minute advertisement for cleavage, which I thought was hilarious. I’m proud that a piece of work that I was in was described as such in such a renowned publication. That’s a really unique experience that I get to have.”
Stenberg goes on to say she sent the message in jest, explaining that she thought Wilson might appreciate the message because they both identify as queer. “I thought it was hilarious. I thought because Lena is gay, and I am also gay…as gay people we would both find this comment funny. I was also curious to know what Lena would say to such a statement. Lena decided to publish it and also says that I am homophobic for saying that.”
Stenberg ended her Instagram story by further explaining her intention for messaging Wilson, drawing a comparison to the unwarranted attention her body receives as an actress in Hollywood. “The amount of commentary I receive on my boobs is so extreme,” Stenberg says. “This has happened since I was a teenager. I could literally be wearing a t-shirt and just because of the size of my boobs there will be some sort of sexualization or commentary on my chest.”
While there are multiple young women in the movie, Stenberg seems to believe Wilson’s cleavage comment was directed towards her. “I knew that this comment was probably mostly directed towards me,” she says. “I wore this tank top in this movie because me and the costume designer felt it fit the character well. I do get tired of people talking about my chest. It seems to be in Hollywood it’s not normalized to have boobs that are above an A or a B cup. There seems to be a lot of unwarranted conversation about my chest that kind of baffles me.”
“Lena, I thought your review was hilarious,” Stenberg says towards the end of her video. “I thought my DM was funny. I did not mean to harass you. I do not wish you any harm. You are allowed to have your criticism on my work and I’m allowed to have my criticisms of your work. I wish you the best.”
But it seems that Stenberg is not entirely over the review. “Thanks to anyone who has gone to see our 95 minute advertisement for cleavage,” she concludes.