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Miley Cyrus in ELLE: Can She Really Have the Best of Both Worlds?

Miley Cyrus as Disney's "Hannah Montana"
"Hannah Montana"

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

Miley Cyrus in Elle Magazine, August 2009
Miley Cyrus in ELLE Magazine, August 2009

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?

Britney Spears on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1999
Spears on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1999

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.


10 thoughts on “Miley Cyrus in ELLE: Can She Really Have the Best of Both Worlds?

  1. I think this was for older adults to see. Pretty usual modelling i see there. This is ok, not going overboard, this is how you model.

  2. I don’t necessarily think the pictures in Elle spread is going over board. But I do think that when a star like Miley Cyrus takes pictures like that it means something more than your average model. Because she is a Disney star with young fans her taking more adult pictures sexualizes being young, which is problematic in many ways.

  3. Picture is just toooo much! Then last night on the Teen Awards show she is pole dancing. Come on — What’s up with that and her parents were watching and I guess approving the hole thing. What a shame,

  4. I think Elle is an adult magazine and if she wants to take more adult pictures, that’s fine. It’s up to the parents of young children to say “no you cannot buy that adult magazine just because it has Miley on it”.

    Next she might pose for Cosmo. And it’s up to the parents to say NO she’s not a kid anymore.

  5. I look at Miley and think that she is just following a precedent that has been set by pretty much every former female Disney star. Can you blame her for wanting to look sexy and be seen in this way? Our world keeps saying that that’s the way women can become successful, so until we change that, this will be the norm.

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