Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

MileyCyruspicforidolchatter.jpgOn February 9th, Disney superstar Miley Cyrus and her “achy breaky” father Billy Ray Cyrus participated in a “relaxed family event” photo shoot for Vanity Fair’s June issue. While Cyrus isn’t on the cover, her scantily clad photo—where she is looking over her shoulder, bare-backed and covering herself with a sheet—has received much coverage and has been the source of much discontent for Vanity Fair, Cyrus and her fans.
Cyrus has released a statement saying she is embarrassed; photographer, Annie Leibowitz has apologized that the photo was misinterpreted; Disney has suggested that the photo was manipulated and not so much has been heard from her parents. Strange statements aside, I am bothered by what seems like the media’s refusal to respect young stars for who they are instead of paving the way to their possible dysfunction.


Case in point, Miley Cyrus. Thus far in her career she has walked the straight and narrow road. Her show is the Disney Channel’s top-rated series, her concerts are sold out and command top-dollar, she appears on the red carpet as a fresh-faced teenage girl living out her dreams just as her fans would love to live out theirs and then she seals the deal by telling the world that she thanks Jesus Christ her Savior for all that she has. She is who the media has been looking for since the downfall of Britney Spears. But now that she has fallen into the magazine photo shoot/interview circuit, she is even more susceptible to be molded into what they want her to be rather than what she is.
This is how Cyrus’ over share about her favorite show, “Sex and the City” can end up as feature fodder–and an odd reflection of her character–and how one can persuade her to get undressed for a shoot under the guise of art. Given all of this, the blame can’t be put on Cyrus as much as it can be put on editors and writers looking for a juicy story and some hot pictures to gain viral status on the web over helping a young girl maintain a pure, untainted image. A 15-year-old girl in a quasi-nude photograph is what I consider exploitation. You mean to tell me she couldn’t be photographed with clothes on–for every page of the spread? With no other adult—including her parents—willing to stand up and say that she is much too young to take such a photo I don’t think I can call it anything else but exploitation.
You could also call it naiveté because for anyone to believe that this photo wouldn’t be construed as suggestive and exploitative is just ridiculous. You don’t leave a 15-year-old girl to her own devices at a shoot with a photographer who has taken some of her most amazing photos when her subjects have been nearly or just plain nude. There is just something wrong with people who’d rather teenage girls be scantily-clad and suggestive rather than modest.
We should be protecting the integrity of our young girls knowing that there are so many things out there created to tear them down. Miley Cyrus has years to make a well-educated decision about taking these kinds of pictures—particularly when she doesn’t have young girls on the edge of their seats watching her every move. At 15, the media and her own focus for her coverage should be to continue to be a beacon of light in an industry that is waiting for her to stoop to the level of her predecessors. At this point, all we can do is pray that Miley, her family, and her handlers will use foresight and discernment when dealing with the media beast.

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