Today it seems every time I turn on the television, read a headline or scroll through my Facebook feed, I see the name Miley Cyrus.
It appears that everyone from my high school classmate to Sufjan Stevens has something to say in regards to the twerking, tongue-licking character Cyrus has become.
Though her VMA performance this past August was only something I YouTubed after seeing a plethora of tweets, I was certainly astonished at seeing the girl who my little sisters once idolized as “Hannah Montana” raunchily rub herself with a foam finger.
I remember my two youngest sisters scrambling in front of the television to watch Cyrus, singing about having the best of both worlds. Now I was watching her continuously stick her tongue out, but this was her life and not of any concern to me, or so I thought.
It wasn’t until I was watching the video for “Wrecking Ball,” with Cyrus twirling around nude and licking a sledge hammer that I became concerned. From across the room my 8-year-old sister heard the music playing and said, “I don’t really like that video.”
How had my 8-year-old sister, who still had baby teeth and scraped knees, seen a video of Cyrus licking hardware on the Internet?
Days later my concern grew even more as the radio began playing Cyrus’s hit, “We Can’t Stop,” and all three of my sisters sang in unison, “Dancing with Molly, doing whatever we want.”
“Dancing with Molly,” as in the pure powder form of MDMA, the main chemical in Ecstasy.
Thus, I realized the power of pop culture, and how shamelessly it denies reality.
While Cyrus twerks, licks and pops Molly, her star slowly rises, but in the real world, this is anything but the truth.
In reality one bad rumor can lead to complete destruction of one’s character.
Should my sister walk down the street without pants, sticking her tongue out, she would not find her popularity increasing. In fact, she would forever be labeled a derogatory term and shunned.
So what do we do? How in a culture so bedded in sexual exploitation do we teach young girls that a difference lies between entertainment and reality?
Ignoring Cyrus won’t make her go away. Whether it’s Madonna kissing Britney Spears or Katy Perry spraying whipped cream from a bustier, pop culture thrives on sex.
So, perhaps the only thing we can do is to set an example.
Watching my mother as a child, fixing her hair and applying lipstick, I thought she was the most beautiful person in the world. Even if I loved listening to Christina Aguilera on the radio, I had a real example in front of me to show me what being beautiful and respectable was all about.
Maybe teaching by example, not through the television, can shape how young girls feel about what is wrong and right, what is sexy and what is is slutty.
Maybe letting them know how important they are can help them realize their true potential, placing value not solely on their beauty, but on their brains.
Women certainly have the right to embrace sexuality, their bodies and the power they possess. However, we don’t have to sacrifice self-worth in the process.
Love yourself, your body, your experiences, but be something that makes you proud.
Cyrus’s star will one day fade out and my sisters will grow into women, only reminiscing about her outlandish behavior in their childhood, but the example I set for them will stay with them forever.