Ack! Miley Cyrus! Ack!

Okay, so there’s a huge amount of nonsense flying around about this Vanity Fair picture of Miley Cyrus. And I agree, actually – it is a problematic picture. But really, come on, it’s not pornographic in any way. It’s not even really inappropriate for a 15 year old. The problem is not that the picture was taken, but rather that it should not have been published.  A 15 year old should not have sexual images printed in magazines or books or published on-line.

This is a really very similar argument to the basis for my post (and the following comments) on Jock Sturges’ images of nude teenage girls. It boils down to teenage girls not being fully prepared to deal with the repercussions of people looking at naked images of her (potentially both immediate and long-term). Miley Cyrus is currently dealing with the immediate, short-term repercussions of her image. Long-term repercussions might include the image being dug up in forty years when she’s running for Senate or trying to become a pastor of a church.

So the picture isn’t the problem, but rather where it was published.

I read an interesting post today about Miley’s choice, basically saying that it’s just fine for a 15 year old to be sexual and that it’s hypocritical and unhelpful to pretend that 15 year olds aren’t sexual. Basically, I agree with the author. 15 year olds are sexual beings, whether or not they’re famous. And no one should have to apologize for being sexual.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Thank you for your kind words about my post, Karen!

    By the way, I thought of you today when I was listening to a radio program that discussed the Cyrus affair. I at first imagined the host would have done well if you had come on the program to offer the audience a more informed view of adolescent sexuality than they seemed to be getting from him.

    Then I realized: Of course he isn’t going to invite someone like Karen onto his program, because he does not want a voice of sanity to interfere with his fun and games — with the smug holier than thou self-satisfaction he takes in condemning the poor girl.

    You see, Karen, this whole episode has made a cynic out of me. I will of course recover my good cheer in a few days — yet in my opinion the Cyrus affair has revealed an ugly side of our society.

  2. my problem was with the picture itself – the one that most of the stories have shown

    and my own interpretation of it

    i don’t have any issue with teen sexuality – as long as it is responsible and safe. on the internet i have seen plenty of pictures of teens – don’t go looking for them – but they are all around. i know the difference in what i see – and it applies to adult women as well

    the pictures i have a problem with are like the one of Miley. in that picture she looks like she is hiding – not strong – not confident

    like she is clutching the sheet/cloth protectively to herself to keep herself covered

    her lipstick appears smeared like she has been kissing – but she is still protecting herself by holding the sheet in that way

    she is not making a statement of strong, comfortable, or confident sexuality. and seeing that image – created by a skillful photographer – my mind says the girl needs to be protected. as a male and as a father i want to protect the girl in that picture. the one that was created in that image.

    that is the problem i have

    if she was standing completely nude with confidence i wouldn’t bat an eye. but the girl in that one picture – i need to protect her

  3. […] and adolescent sexuality. In fact, I wonder if this is even news worthy just because of the recent Miley Cyrus fiasco? Or maybe it’s because silly things like this suddenly go viral on the Internet and out of […]

  4. […] I’m hesitant to write about this topic, which is perhaps telling in and of itself.  I write about a lot of controversial issues (like when I suggested teenagers should have vibrators if they want them, oh and here too!).  But there are few topics where people are as full of vitriol as they are on the topic of pictures of teenagers that in any way imply a sexuality or sensuality. […]

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