Oh my, oh Miley. Blogs around the internet are buzzing over these photos of 15-year-old Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus, taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair. Movie City News' David Poland, writing about the pics on his Hot Blog, said, "People do know that 15-year-old breasts, while they really have no business being shown in public, do exist, whether covered in a sheet or a t-shirt, right?" (Poland has the full picture up on his website, I'm not going to put it up here. You can see it there or on Vanity Fair.)
Well, yes, we know that 15-year-old girls have 15-year-old breasts, but that does that make it appropriate for a magazine to publish photos of a half-naked teenager? Whether because the folks over at Disney, where Cyrus's show Hannah Montana is one of its biggest properties, pitched a bitch about the photos, or because she's genuinely mortified by the photos in retrospect, Cyrus issued a statement to fans that said, in part, "I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed."
The most controversial photo shows Cyrus, who appears to be naked beneath a sheet, posing with her bare back and side exposed, her arms holding up a satiny sheet and covering her front. The first question that popped into my mind when I saw the pic was, "Holy hell, what on earth were her parents thinking?" It's one thing for a parent to take pics of, say, a baby's cute little naked tushie lying on a changing table, or a kid taking a bubble bath. It's another thing entirely for a parent to allow photos of their half-naked teenaged daughter to be taken by a photographer for publication in a major magazine. And I suspect, if they hadn't been blinded by who the photographer was, and having Miley's photos in Vanity Fair, they perhaps would have thought twice about it.
Liebovitz says that both Miley and her "minders" (I really hate that word, by the way) knew what the concept of the shoot was, and defends the pics as "simple" and "beautiful." I'm not arguing that they aren't artsy, but they look like the teenager just tumbled out of bed after a night of ... whatever ... and is it appropriate for any teenager, much less one who's a role model for pre-teen girls everywhere, to be depicted like that? I have 11 and six-year-old daughters who are huge fans of Hannah Montana, and I'm far from being a prude myself, but I don't want my girls seeing that picture of a teenager they admire.
Poland goes on to say in his write-up that Cyrus's "urges to go more 'adult' have been signaled endlessly, especially in her concert tour." I have to beg to differ. I took my kids to see the concert tour at the movie theater, and the costumes she wore in that show were nothing close to what's revealed in this photo spread. Her concert attire is funky, cute, and perhaps pop-star edgy, but hardly inappropriately revealing. Her skirts are no shorter that those worn by high school cheerleaders across the country, her teeny-bopper cleavage is covered, and she just looks like what she is -- a teen pop star.
The Vanity Fair pic, on the other hand, makes her look like she's auditioning for a remake of Lolita. I can't fault Cyrus for any of this -- she's a kid, she can't legally sign an agreement for herself to do anything. But her parents, who are adults, did sign off on these pics, and Leibovitz, who is also an adult, took them, and I can't help but feel that Leibovitz, who doesn't shy away from controversy, had more than a little ulterior motive here in taking pictures that she had to know would be seen by many as exploiting a young girl.
What do you think about these photos? Is it appropriate for a teenage girl, no matter how famous, to be depicted this way? And how about those of you who, like me, have young daughters who are fans of Cyrus and her show? Is this the way you want them to see a teenager they look up to?