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Drew Barrymore: why the actor’s candid message about her “unconventional” dad has touched many on Instagram

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Kayleigh Dray
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Drew Barrymore

The Charlie’s Angels actor, as many will no doubt be aware, legally emancipated from her parents when she was 14 years old.

Over the weekend, many flooded Instagram with photos of the dads, stepdads, and father figures in their lives as they celebrated Father’s Day.

Among them was Drew Barrymore, whose father, the late John Drew Barrymore, left her mother when she was nine years old. And, alongside a black-and-white photo, the actor penned a refreshingly candid message about what it was like growing up with a dad who didn’t “fit” society’s idea of a father.

“My mom chose a wild card for my dad,” the actor writes. 

“He was a mad poet hedonist man child! But I understood that as a kid. [And] somehow I have zero baggage or dad issues.”

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Barrymore continues: “I think I would have liked to have a dad who didn’t look so out there. Or who stayed. Or was capable of anything really. But his wildness runs through me. His gifts are here. His demons to overcome are mine to break! I love him not for who I wanted him to be, but for who he was.

“As I look at all the photos of dads today, doing their dad job, sure, there is my tiny self that wished for him to fit in. But he never did. And I’m not sure I did either. And I’m not sure what anything is supposed to look like, or what it really is beyond the images?”

Powerfully, Barrymore finishes: “But I do know this… both my parents have played a major role in who I am as a parent. And none of it looks perfect. But it functions with so much love. And togetherness. And availability.

“I don’t have a picture of a dad today to show how great everything was. I have a picture to show what it was. And that is my story. And that is perfect in itself. My dad gave me the gift of life! A wicked sense of humor! And that wildness I truly do cherish.”

Barrymore’s post, which has been shared well over 300,000 times in less than 24 hours, has been praised by thousands of Instagram users.

“What a beautiful way to say what is unspoken and shared by so many of us on this day,” commented one.

“Whatever alchemy adds up to creating you… that’s magic,” added another.

One more noted: “As many of us did not get the parent we wanted, deserved or needed, your words of acceptance are very powerful. Thank you.”

And another, simply, wrote: “Thank you. I needed a different perspective for today.”

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After her parents divorced, when Barrymore was nine, her mother, Jaid, took her to Studio 54, where she was introduced to drugs and encouraged to dance with famous young men. By the age of 13, she found herself beginning an 18-month stint in hospital, where she was treated for alcohol and drug addiction.

As such, Barrymore emancipated herself from her parents at the age of 14, and moved into her own place.

“It was a very important thing to experience for me,” she told The Guardian. “It was very humbling, very quieting. 

“Maybe it was necessary, because I came out of there a more respecting person. And my parents didn’t teach me that, and life wasn’t teaching me that. I came out in a very different way… but I still was me.”

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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