Brooke Shields was born in New York City and grew up in Haworth, New Jersey.
Shields was raised a Catholic and it would seem she is still a Catholic. She was confirmed at the age of ten and married her second and current husband in a Catholic ceremony. In fact, Shields had her first marriage to tennis legend Andre Agassi annulled, just so she could be remarried in the Catholic tradition.
Shields admits to having some of that classic Catholic guilt as well. Referring to the discovery of precancerous cells on her skin, Shields said:
When everything is going well, my Catholic guilt rears its ugly head and says, ‘No, you’re not allowed to be that happy. We’re gonna give you cancer now!’
Certain aspects of Shields life haven’t exactly conformed to Catholic doctrine. Shields, who has a long history of difficulty when it comes to child-bearing, has been criticized by some Catholics for in vitro fertilization, who say she “killed” all of the eggs she didn’t use in the process.
In perhaps her most famous outburst, Shields shot back at Tom Cruise (who had criticized her for taking anti-depressants during a nasty bout of postpartum depression) by taking shots at Scientology–which frowns on psychiatric drug use. Shields said:
Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women who are experiencing postpartum depression decide what treatment options are best for them.
Funny? Perhaps. Tolerant? Not so much.
Shields appears to be a Democrat, but that might be a relatively recent development. Her one and only political contribution was to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid.
But she has proclaimed the importance she attaches to the institution of voting. In a “get out the vote” video, Shields said:
I vote because it’s a right, it’s my right, it’s a privilege, it’s my privilege. And it’s an honor and without voting, my voice wouldn’t be heard.
Much of Shields’ political involvement revolves around issues of body image in American society and the media. At the age of 16, Shields was being offered up as a sex symbol to sell jeans for Calvin Klein. The ads were so scandalous and controversial that a child pornography investigation ensued. Here’s a particularly racy one.
Interestingly, Shields is as much a victim of this as anyone. She admits that, even though she’s been rated and voted the sexiest-this and the most beautiful-that by dozens of organizations dozens of times, she still struggles with insecurity over body image and beauty issues.
In response, Shields has become the spokesperson for an organization called SMART Girls, the mission of which is to teach “girls to nurture their mental and physical well-being and to celebrate the bonds of female friendships.”