Fifteen-year-old Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus is virtually topless on the cover of Vanity Fair. Disney blames the magazine, the magazine says that her parents and minders were there throughout the Annie Leibowitz photo shoot. But it doesn't much matter who is at fault. This is a major wake-up call to American parents.
Young girls are being sexualized at an increasingly early age. It was bad enough that Britney Spears started showing off her body when she was nineteen. But Miley is 15. How much younger will it go? A few years ago, Time magazine reported that 40% of American high school girls wear thongs to school, a great many with the underwear strap showing above their jeans. Our daughters need to be protected from sexual exploitation. They need to hear that they have a brain and not just a bust. A strong message must be sent both to Vanity Fair and Disney that the sexual exploitation of a young girl for commercial profit is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by American parents who buy their products.
Also, the line between the female recording industry and soft porn was erased years ago first by Madonna and then by Britney Spears. We need to reconstruct that line. Women should be appreciated for their music talent and not exposed body parts. Young girls who want to succeed in music should not have to feel the insane pressure to expose themselves. Music is a dignified profession. A talented fifteen-year-old shouldn't feel that unless she starts taking off her clothes, her star will begin to dim. She's a kid, for goodness sake. The message she should be conveying to her young fans is that "I succeeded through hard work and talent, not shortcuts like compromising my dignity in order to get attention."
And without wanting to be judgmental, I do have to ask, where are Miley's parents in all this? Have they not seen what happened to Britney Spears? This is a slippery-slope. Please step in here and protect your daughter. She is an inspiration to millions of young girls. Tell her that she should never compromise herself to feed the hungry media beast that loves to shock. Tell her that the message she should be giving to her fans is that she loves being a kid, she's not rushing to grow up too fast, and that exposing her body is not what she or any other fifteen-year-old should be about.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of Hating Women: America's Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex.www.shmuley.com
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