Mayim Bialik is asking herself the question a lot of adults have asked themselves: What if social media had existed when I was a teenager?
In a recent interview with Justin Long on his podcast Life is Short, Bialik, 46, opened up about the deep insecurities she had as a teen while starring on the hit ’90s sitcom Blossom, and explaining that had social media existed at the time, she likely would have considered getting plastic surgery.
“I’m so glad there wasn’t social media, because I already knew all the things I wasn’t invited to, so imagine looking at pictures of it,” Bialik said of her high schools years, remembering that at the time all she wanted to do was “disappear” because she “felt very unworthy of attention or praise.”
“I probably would have asked for plastic surgery,” the actor said. “A lot of girls would get a nose job at 16 in a lot of circles. I definitely wished I had a different face, which I think is also, a lot of kids go through that, boys and girls. I do think, if social media had existed, I don’t know if that pressure would not have gotten to me in a way where I would have said, ‘I can do it different. Look at this one who did it different. Look at that one.’”
Adding that she “wished” she “had a different face” growing up, Bialik said had social media existed in high school, “I think would have gotten into more, I don’t want to say materialistic things, but a lot more body consciousness,” she continued. “I mean, it was hard being flat-chested until I was 17, 16, but, like, the depths to which I would have been miserable about it, I think would have been a lot.”
“It was a big deal to be teased for that,” she added.
Even though Bialik was famous by the time she got to high school, thanks to her role in Blossom and for playing a young Bette Midler in the film classic Beaches, the actor insists she wasn’t well-liked in school, which had a significant impact on her self-worth.
“I wasn’t popular,” Bialik, who went to the same Los Angeles public high school as actors Alyson Hannigan and James Marsden, said. “I was the kind of kid who really didn’t want to talk about [my fame],” she said. “I wanted to pretend it didn’t exist, but it’s hard to do when a lot of kids are watching you on television. So [at school] it was a lot of like, ‘Oh you think you’re so hot? You got the wrong answer in class.’ And then it’s like, OK I will never raise my hand again.”
“Boys didn’t like me in the first place because I was strange and I didn’t have breasts,” she explained. “Girls were not really a fan of me either because I was pulling attention. I had a lot of rough girl experiences in junior high of like, well, ‘We don’t want people to think we’re hanging out with you because you’re famous so we’re just not gonna hang out with you.’”
To make matters worse, Bialik was also dealing with unfair criticisms about her looks by entertainment journalists. Specifically, she cites one review — “the last review I read” — when Blossom had just come out.
“I will never forgot it,” she said of the review. “He said some really, really unkind things about my face. I was 14 and he said it looked like a smattering of features that don’t fit together, put on a face that looked like a shield. I thought, what a strange [thing to say]. But at the time I was devastated.”
Bialik had the last laugh, though. After graduating high school, she took a break from acting to earn her undergraduate and doctorate degrees in neuroscience at UCLA.
Of course, the star eventually returned to television and won the hearts of Americans on the ABC sitcom Big Bang Theory. That resurgence has led her to be the fan favorite to take over as permanent co-host of Jeopardy! alongside Ken Jennings, following the passing of Alex Trebek, who hosted the series for 37 years before his death in 2020.
In hindsight, Bialik says the appreciation she has for her own body has been fueled by the people in her life who see her true beauty — including her ex-husband Michael Stone, from whom she separated from in 2012. Together they share sons Miles, 16, and Frederick, 13.
Currently, Bialik is dating Jonathan Cohen, who just so happens to be the cohost for her mental health podcast, Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown.
“I think that’s one of the really beautiful things about adulthood,” she said. “I don’t have a fantastic dating history but I’m grateful that I’ve had partners that have really really found me beautiful. And absolutely you have to ‘find yourself beautiful’ and you need to ‘love yourself’ but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong, especially from a feminist, to say that when someone who sees you emotionally and intellectually also sees beauty in you, it’s very powerful.”
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