By Debby Shulman
In what appears to be an epic Miley Cyrus backlash for her provocative and disgusting performance at the VMAs, social media has admittedly used her horrifically bad judgment to their advantage. And while it does not compare to the chemical warfare currently going on in Syria, it DOES bring millions of hits to a story that warrants nothing but a very long time-out and some major therapy. Our sons and daughters will see that tape, if they did not see it on television, and once again be indulged with a show of adolescent pornography that highlights Cyrus’ vile behavior.
Let’s see if Disney has the guts to pull “Hannah Montana” from its repertoire of sweet-teen-beats–the-mean-queen-candy-coated adolescent line-up. I’m guessing they will not.
Cyrus is bringing more dogs to her yard and the negative attention she successfully solicits is just another message to our teens that when you’re lonely for attention, you can take off your clothes and bathe in the slimelight.
Not too long ago, a beautiful young teen in our area garnered over one thousand likes for her beautiful Facebook profile pictures. Truly adorable, she was tall and blond and young. Only a freshman, she looked like a model and as the “hits” kept coming, her pictures became more and more seductive. Once the jean shorts and T-shirts hits dried up, she played the bikini top – more hits.
And so it went, when the bathing suit “likes” began to dwindle, she simply took it all off.
My daughter and her friends were horrified – not only at what she did, but also how quickly the tide turned. Cruel criticism, condemnation, and a Facebook rejection of grand proportion, the poor girl was left with nothing but a legacy of doing the unspeakable. Her role models? The Miley Cyrus’s of the world. When the attention you have come to crave begins to dry up, take off that top. Grind and twerk to your heart’s content, wear shorts that reveal more anatomy than is customary in the gynecologist’s office and see what happens.
I have decided to use Miley Cyrus’s latest public display of bad girl for a discussion about why it is so sad.
I know my daughter’s reaction is one of disgust; seeing that behavior is actually scary to a lot of young girls who are overwhelmed by Cyrus’s brazen sexuality. Combined with her “Hannah Montana” persona, there is a pathetic sympathy that we feel for the cute girl who wanted to be a rock star AND a typical teenage girl … more reason for explanation of why it’s hard to find yourself – especially at the age of 16. We can only assume that Cyrus has been left to raise herself among the wolves whose only interest is to capitalize on her incredibly bad, sleazy behavior. That girl should be on a college campus, wearing sweatpants, eating Dominos and studying music theory. But there’s more to this than stating the obvious –
Miley has been led astray, seeking out negative behavior as a means of filling her empty soul in search of defining herself in a way that makes her feel good.
So Miley is being served up as dinner conversation as to why she feels compelled to behave this way. I want my daughter to know that this behavior is ugly, self-deprecating and self-destructive. She does, but it also serves as conversation about behaving in a sultry or promiscuous manner.
Whether it’s in the impersonal safety of an online chat or at a high school party, slutty girls never win.
They think what they are doing is powerful, they perceive it as being adored and they relish in that moment. But we all know that those mistakes follow you through high school and on to college where my son has defined a former friend as a “hot mess” because she can’t keep her legs closed. Seeking negative attention is better than having none at all, and so for some young women, this behavior fills a void. This is what I want my daughter to understand. This is what I will use as an example of why we need to offer our teens ways in which to value who they are without taking off their clothes or carelessly fooling around in hopes of feeling full.
Miley’s performance has given us the chance to talk about what we can do to help young girls identify themselves as strong, healthy, emotionally secure young women.
Using her as the example of what NOT to do (or wear for that matter), we open discussion for talking out loud about how degrading and sad that behavior truly is. For as awkward as it might be, let’s be candid about how wrong it is when our society admittedly chooses not to highlight devastating wild fires and Syrian tragedy in lieu of Hannah Montana backing her bottom up to an older man’s groin.
Someone once gave me great advice on talking to teens about issues that are uncomfortable. Start every sentence with a question – establish where they’re at to determine where you need to go. In fact, answering a question with another question might get you to a deeper place that requires more thought on the part of your teen. “How do you feel about that performance” is a great start, even though most of us know the answer we will get. Moving on to harder questions like why she did it or what she hoped to professionally achieve might offer insight into your child’s impression of whether this is an acceptable way to garner attention. Finding out who they think is making good choices (Selena Gomez? Raven Simone?) in their celebrity/role model world and talking about what makes them different is where I decided to go. It’s an ongoing conversation – she gave me the ‘duh’ look too many times and I know when it’s time to table a conversation with my 15-year-old.
But rest assured, I’ll be back.
We know Miley Cyrus is one sad girl and we know the reasons why. This blog is not about what we know; it’s about what our teenagers think about sexually explicit behavior by their peers.
The wicked misperceptions of what sexy looks like is lost on this generation unless we take the time to make it right.
Grateful for my mother, who, in her infinite Coco Chanel wisdom stated, “Honey, less is more” countless times throughout my teen years. I’m so glad she did.
One of my favorite authors, Ayn Rand, who embodied strong-willed, fiercely confident, and ahead of her time independence, once said, “The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.”
Open for interpretation; it’s next on my list.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Debby Shulman is a college essay consultant and academic tutor with a private practice in Northbrook, Illinois. She also professionally collaborates with Amy Simon College Consulting in Bannockburn, Illinois. Debby also blogs about Motherhood/Teen issues for Your Teen magazine (www.yourteenmag.com). Check out her valuable advice.
* TOMORROW in GIRLilla Warfare: A Dad’s Perspective: Daughters, Sex Questions AND The Miley Problem< back