Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley Cyrus and the Distortion of Shame

Yesterday Miley Cyrus' photo in Vanity Fair created quite the stir. If you have not seen the photo, here is the main one in question:


Ok. So the big stink, including a New York Post cover story, is that Miley is only 15 years old. This photo was taken by Annie Leibowitz. It's classic Annie. You can tell without even seeing the photo credit.

The reason I feel the need to blog on this topic is the conservative press' treatment of poor Miley. The front page of the NYPost says MILEY'S SHAME and features this picture. It was such a shocking front page to the paper, that Miley's camp released a statement before it even hit newsstands. What really irks me about this cover is, I'm wondering, what exactly she is to be ashamed of? It has been widely called a 'topless' photo. That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it? I can only see her back. I can't even see cleavage! The pose is not a seductive pose - this is not 's' curve territory, there are no parted thighs, fingers in the mouth or any sense that she is about to fall over, the top three classic porno moves.

I'm in no way playing devil's advocate, I'm actually shocked at how the media and everyone else seems to be convinced that these images are proof of her 'sexualization'. She's 15! Am I the only one who was well on her way to being a sexual being at 15? I really think North American ideals on when and how young people are "allowed" to express their sexuality is the disturbing part. Who says when it's appropriate? Average age of loss of virginity is 16.5 in North America, that's Average. So lots of teens lose it before then. Why must we make them feel ashamed? Because we can't accept they are growing up? I don't see anything inappropriate about these pics, I don't see anything pornographic. Perhaps she is a tad young, but maybe only by one year, and even then - is nudity that bad?

Look, this is the thing: Nude does not equal Naked.

In art history they teach you that there is a difference between Nude and Naked. Naked is without clothes for sake of sexuality. Nude is without clothes for sake of beauty. There is a HUGE difference. This is how you define what is porn and what is art. I see these as Nude, not Naked. Her physical positioning of her body in the shot is not sexually suggestive. To me, there is not a sexual image in front of me, but a very beautiful young girl who happens to not have a shirt on, posing for a photo. I can see why her parents did not stop this. They likely don't see their daughter through the same eyes the public does. As she is their daughter. Parents don't project sexual thoughts on their children (well, in healthy situations anyhow). I think, if at 15, my mother saw me doing a photoshoot like this, she'd think "Oh, she looks like an Angel!" not, "Wow, what a skank!". Then again, I did come from a liberal household.

I am further disappointed in how people are manipulated by the media. I am in a gossip discussion group and so many of the women there jumped all over this, calling her a Slut! a Skank! a tramp! and to me, that is MUCH more damaging than this photo. People don't want to allow her to be a sexual person at 15? Go bury your head in the sand! Being sexual is not a negative thing. Unfortunately women do not see this and seem to fight it like it's some horrible scourge to be eliminated. They say "exploited" or "whored out". I think this is why feminists have better sex.

But that's another blog post.

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