Brooke Shields on Looking Back—And Starting Over

The last scene of the documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, about the 57-year-old actor’s life, career, and sexual objectification as a child, is an intimate family dinner at the West Village townhouse Shields shares with her husband, writer Chris Henchy, and two teenage daughters, Rowan, 19, and Grier, 16.

Shields asks her daughters if they have seen either of the films that catapulted her to teenage stardom: 1978’s Pretty Baby, about a child prostitute in turn-of-the-20th-century New Orleans, and 1980’s Blue Lagoon, an Adam and Eve–inspired island-survival fantasy. Grier says that edits of Pretty Baby on TikTok had steered her away from watching it in full. Rowan asks her mother if she appears naked in the film.

When Shields says, “Yes, my little 11-year-old body,” Rowan visibly shudders. “Okay, no, that’s weird, Mom,” Rowan says, her hands up in protest. Shields probes them as to why, while Henchy nervously chews his steak at the head of the table. “Child pornography!” cries Grier.

It sounds simple, but after two hours of watching Shields wrestle with the way that she was presented to the world and treated by the film and media industries as a young person, the documentary’s takeaway does not feel quite so straightforward.