The youngsters love Disney’s Hannah Montana, but what kind of message is Miley Cyrus sending them about how to act in real life? Whether she is wearing thigh-high boots or clutching a sheet to her naked torso (as she was in last year’s Vanity Fair), 16-year-old Miley has been shown in very adult poses.
These provocative photos, mixed with the fact that her fame comes from her popularity with the tweens and pre-tweens, results in another attempt to link youth with sexiness. Unfortunately, Miley’s image is falling pray to the pull toward a more “sexy” persona.
Case in point is her photo shoot in the August issue of ELLE magazine
Short skirt, legs spread, hair tousled — take this image in while keeping in mind that most of her fan base is still in elementary school. It is true that ELLE is a magazine aimed at adults with more mature content. Why, then, did they choose to feature Miley to attract their adult audience?
The answer is in our culture’s fixation with youth being seen as “sexy.” Think back to the Spring 1999 Rolling Stone cover featuring Britney Spears in her underwear talking on the phone and clutching a Teletubby doll. This is a much more blatant attempt to mix youth with sex appeal, but the photo spreads Miley Cyrus has been involved with are much the same.
Novelist Nicholas Sparks is quoted in the ELLE article as saying:
“…she’s growing up, as much as we wish she wouldn’t… I think everybody, when they watch Home Alone, wishes Macaulay Culkin were nine years old, but he’s not. People grow up!”
What Mr. Sparks fails to see here is that while Miley might be growing up, the decisions she and the people around her (i.e. her manager father, Billy Ray Cyrus) make have a direct impact on the young people that watch and sometimes imitate her every move. However popular Macaulay Culkin was, he didn’t send droves of fans running to the stores to imitate his latest outfits.
If these types of images bother you, take action. Don’t underestimate the power you have on the kids around you. Talk to the young people who may or may not be Miley fans about why she might be taking photos like the ones in ELLE. Ask them questions about what they think of Miley’s new photos. Opening this door can help people of all ages see though the hype of marketing campaigns.
If you want to let Miley Cyrus know your feelings on her photo spread in ELLE, you can send her a letter to Miley Cyrus, P.O. Box 1459, Santa Monica, CA 90406.
You can also send feedback to ELLE using the form on their contact page.