Friday, May 02, 2008

The Miley Cyrus Message, in the Eyes of Schoolgirls - New York Times:

Fifteen. It’s also the age at which a girl, even a girl at a competitive alternative high school like Beacon, might be just on the cusp of outgrowing her love affair with Miley Cyrus, the 15-year-old performer (and star of the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana” show) who recently posed for Vanity Fair in suggestive, if artful, photos taken by Annie Leibovitz.

“My friend loves her,” said one 15-year-old sophomore who wouldn’t have class for another hour. Eye shadow and blush with a hint of glitter were brushed across her perfect face, giving her the look that Barbie gets when some young girl decides she could have even prettier pink cheeks. “Well, she love-hates her,” she corrected herself. Once her friend saw the pictures in Vanity Fair, “She called her a slut.”

It stung to hear the word; another version of it came up a moment later. Looking quickly at the image — Ms. Cyrus with her hair damp, her back bare, a sheet draped over her front — another Beacon sophomore looked not so much shocked as disturbed. “Is this who we’re supposed to be growing up to be?” asked the young woman. She wore sunglasses, a tight baby-T and short shorts over black leggings. “I don’t want to be that,” she said. “It’s sending a message that girls are supposed to be whores.”

Dressing sexy, as she and so many of her classmates do, was one thing. Dressing in bedding, seemingly otherwise unclothed, was apparently quite another: contemptible, an actual evocation of sex itself. It’s a paradigm about this generation of teenage girls that’s perplexing to anyone who’s aged out of it: They exude sexuality, even as they’ve internalized a language of shame and anger around it, a language that makes anyone who crosses some ever finer line of appropriate behavior a slut or a whore.

11:28 AM