Miley Cyrus and the sexualisation of girls in today's society

It is not uncommon to see images of 13-year-old girls with faces plastered in make-up; bad hair extensions poking out under their natural, cropped locks; and dressed far senior than their years.  New Look's 915 clothing range features smaller sized versions of the adult section: crop tops, hotpants, bodycon dresses and skirts, heels...

Most youngsters these days also have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc opening them up to see a lot more of the world than I did when I was in my early teenage years.  The ease of access to the world wide web means that young girls and boys can see anything that is out there.  This could be a reason why girls are dressing so much older than their years and sexualising themselves without even realising it.

Miley Cyrus is a prime example of how young women, who are 'role models' to young girls and teenagers, are sexualised in an attempt to make their careers a success.

Before her recent 'makeover', Miley Cyrus was a successful Disney star.  She had a hit tv show, a spin-off film based on her tv show, and was performing to audiences all around the world as her alter ego Hannah Montana.

Miley's career took a turn when she decided to ditch the blonde wig and Disney image and perform solely as Miley Cyrus.  After her first tour, where she stuck very much to her Hannah Montana style, she had a complete image overhaul.

She chopped all her hair off, dyed it blonde, began dressing differently, and releasing different kinds of music.  Provocatively licking a hammer, straddling a wrecking ball completely naked, and violating a foam finger while gyrating on Robin Thicke are just a few of Miley's recent outrageous antics.  Since then, she has received a lot more coverage in the media and, as a result, had more successes with her music.

This gives out the impression that sexualising yourself is the way to be successful in the music industry.  The young girls who have idolised her since her career began are now seeing a completely new Miley.  Many parents are refusing to take their children to her latest tour because the content is so explicit and graphic.

I am not sure whether Miley is a car crash waiting to happen or if she is just victim to this culture where everything needs to be sexualised in order to be a success.  The same happened with Britney Spears.  Her innocent, school girl look was replaced by her wearing barely-there outfits, kissing Madonna, and gyrating on stage with a huge snake.

On the other side of the coin, you have artists such as Rihanna and Beyonce who are huge successes without the need to sexualise everything they produce.  Rihanna has had her raunchy music videos accompanying her equally sexual songs.  But, for every S&M there's a Stay.  Beyonce is a fine example of how success can also come by being classy not trashy.  Beyonce still wears revealing outfits, enjoys a good booty shake, and never misses an opportunity to flaunt her fabulous figure.  But she does so in a classy, respectable way.

I hope Miley is just going through a phase and manages to revert back to her original roots.  Lighting up a joint on stage during the MTV EMAs is not the behaviour of someone who young girls should be looking up to.  I appreciate she may want to move away from her Disney image, and she has certainly achieved that, but she needs to remember she is a role model to millions.

My worry is that the more sexualised images that young people are able to see, the more this will encourage young girls to try and copy the look and style of these icons.

Of course, every young girl wants to have her nails painted and to wear make-up, but there's a fine line between playing dress ups and wearing revealing outfits in an attempt to imitate a celebrity or to gain the attention of Bieber or One Direction.

Young girls should not be twerking at their school discos and replicating sexual acts just because they saw Miley Cyrus do it.  The twerking can be cute at first but when it leads to unwanted attention, that a young girl doesn't know how to handle, that's where the dangers of this new sexualised culture present themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Good article but I disagree that Rihanna and Beyonce are good role models. Music is normally ruined for me if I see the music video, as it limits the ability to use your imagination. Music that lacks substance normally have to use videos to promote themselves. They are both guilty of this.

    Sex sells, as you said, and this is both the case for people who love Miley and hate her. It's a marketing tool with no cons, either way people will talk about it and watch videos on the internet which boosts revenue. The only thing we have is our buying power to combat it.

    It raises another good question though, should parents stop their children from being exposed to these kind of influences?

    Teaching children and teenagers to think for themselves instead of imitating people could be the way forward.

    Thought provoking and contemporary stuff.