I am confused: when Miley Cyrus sticks out her tongue is she trying to be sexy, or is she paying some kind of strange homage to KISS star Gene Simmons? If it is the latter, girl has to level up on the make-up—BIG time (just sayin’).
If it is the former, then kudos to Sinead O’Conner for trying to lead a trending, virtual intervention for Miley. Personally, however, I think it’s kind of surreal to find Sinead offering Miley Cyrus advice in the “spirit of motherliness”. After all, Miley’s dad was barely getting his “achy breaky” groove on, while Sinead was ripping up papal photographs on live TV. Hannah Montana was nary a twinkle in the eye of TVLand back then. Two short decades later, and somehow these two worlds found their way to colliding—sort of.
Sinead’s motherly, loving concern was that Miley was compromising her talent, and perhaps even her personal integrity, in order to fuel the age old myth that “sex sells”. As articulate and sound as Sinead’s letter was, I can’t help but marvel at how the mark was missed. Miley’s deflective descent into tweets mocking Sinead’s struggles with mood disorders successfully and sadly overshadowed the larger issue at hand: Miley is kowtowing to the misogynistic “sex sells” paradigm. Miley’s socially sanctioned sexually explicit behavior is not the actions of some hapless victim. She was allowing herself to be exploited—on purpose. Sweet little Hannah Montana jubilantly volunteered to be part of the problem.
However, in this age of supply and demand, Miley is just offering what society is demanding. Moreover, it is easy to argue that she is doing it because those who came before her did it and it worked for them. Somehow that makes it okay, or even “normal”.
Societal norms equate beauty with sex appeal. Media barrages us with multiple images of stick-thin women wearing stilettos, skin tight pants, and whorish make up in such a rapid succession that young girls barely have a chance to cultivate healthy ideas about beauty. The line between “beauty” and “sexy” is, at best, hopelessly fuzzy. Sadly, precious little is poised to change as long as we buy into the many broken notions regarding body image.
As long as women are beholden to society’s confused notions regarding beauty, body shape, and sex appeal, we are part of the misogyny. We need to stop worrying about whether or not we “look fat”, and start focussing on whether or not we look (and feel) healthy. We need to stop agreeing with those who would shame us for the features that give us character (full lips, round cheeks, curvy hips, prominent nose, or ears, etc), and realize that these things are what make us unique, and exquisite. In this age where demand controls supply, it is high time women start demanding society to develop better, healthier, and clearer definitions of sex appeal, and beauty. We need to see our prominent noses, hips, lips, cheeks etc. as unique selling points, and not manufacturer’s flaws.
But, until then, we can look forward to more Miley who relentlessly keeps trying to reinvent a “look” that only ever worked for Gene Simmons.