Chloe Grace Moretz has hit out at a Family Guy meme showing her walking into a hotel carrying a pizza box, and blames it for the body dysmorphia she says led to her becoming “a recluse”.
The actress, 25, who has been famous for more than half her life, said she has struggled to get over the fallout from the meme and suffered panic attacks as a result.
Speaking to the fashion magazine Hunger, Moretz said she first experienced “self-loathing” after appearing on a red carpet when she was 18 and went on to seek therapy.
She was a child star, whose role in Kick-Ass at 12 brought her worldwide fame, as did her two-year romance with Brooklyn Beckham from 2014. But her rise to fame was followed by negative attention online.
“Then came the onslaught of horrific memes that started getting sent to me about my body,” Moretz said.
“There was one meme that really affected me, of me walking into a hotel with a pizza box in my hand.”
The image, which went viral, was manipulated to resemble a character from Family Guy with long legs and a short torso.
She went on: “Everyone was making fun of my body and I brought it up with someone and they were like, ‘Oh, shut the f*** up, it’s funny.’
“And I just remember sitting there and thinking, my body is being used as a joke and it’s something that I can’t change about who I am, and it is being posted all over Instagram.
“It was something so benign as walking into a hotel with leftovers. And to this day when I see that meme, it’s something very hard for me to overcome.
“After that, I was kind of sad. It took a layer of something that I used to enjoy, which was getting dressed up and going to a carpet and taking a photo, and made me super self-conscious.
“And I think that body dysmorphia – which we all deal with in this world – is extrapolated by the issues of social media.”
She said the result was that she withdrew into herself: “I basically became a recluse.” The break from being photographed then made it hard when she was back in front of the camera.
“It made me severely anxious when I was photographed. My heart rate would rise and I would hyperventilate.”
Moretz also said that she hoped to step behind the camera in future, instead of “being in front of it all the time”, enjoying the “freedom” of the less visible role.
Moretz has been in more than 50 films and is starring in the first TV series of her career.
The Peripheral, an eight-part sci-fi series about time travel, airs on Amazon on 21 October.