Talking to kids about Miley Cyrus

Posted on April 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm

miley_cyrus3.jpgFifteen-year-olds make some poor choices. But while they may feel like the whole world is watching, usually it is just family and friends. Miley Cyrus is not just a fifteen-year-old. She is not even just a superstar, though she did have the top grossing concert tour in the country last year. She is also a brand. Over one billion dollars worth of merchandise featuring Miley and the character she plays on The Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana.” The success of those products depends on her squeaky clean image and parents have been reassured repeatedly that Miley is a sensible, responsible girl with grounded parents and that she will not create the embarrassment of former Disney stars like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and “High School Musical’s” Vanessa Hudgens. But Miley has hit the headlines with some photos taken by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair. By the tabloid Lohan/Spears standards and even the far lesser escapade of Hudgens, whose private nude photo for a boyfriend made it onto the Internet, the Cyrus flap is quite mild. The photo that has attracted the most publicity shows her bare back, holding a sheet up to her front.
Miley has apologized with a statement released by her publicist. “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. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
This is an opportunity for parents to talk to young children who are Miley fans — and to listen to what they have to say — about some important issues. First, make sure they know that everyone makes mistakes and it is how we respond to them that matters. We take responsibility for our actions (including apologies as appropriate), do our best to fix whatever we can, and learn to do better. Ask them why they think Miley made this mistake and what they think of the way she responded.
Let them know that it is all right for them to continue to like her. Loyalty to friends and family is an important value, and all of us need to learn to forgive and be forgiven for our mistakes. But it is also all right for them to like her less if they believe that she made some bad choices.
Remind them that they should never feel that they need to do what an adult tells them if it makes them uncomfortable — even if the adult is a famous photographer working for an important magazine. We want them to feel safe but we also want them to know that not everyone is as protective of them as those who love them. And let them know that bodies are nothing to be ashamed of, but a photograph that may seem perfectly innocent to the one whose picture is being taken may be seen differently, especially if the person in the photo is 15, not 10. In the era of Facebook and YouTube, a reminder that we have to think about what is in the minds of the viewers, especially strangers, and not just the people making the picture is a good idea as well.

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87 Replies to “Talking to kids about Miley Cyrus”

  1. Love the comment on loyalty. One might think the word “loyalty” has left the English language, but it hasn’t!

  2. Artistic photos, I wonder how many people have agreed to do that and then wondered how they could have been so gullible. From what I have read, Miley Cyrus wasn’t as unclothed as the picture suggests. I think she was wearing something underneath that sheet. So while the picture suggested that she was “topless”, she wasn’t. In any event, I don’t think the Cyrus’s will be so agreeable to do any more artistic photo shoots.
    One last thought which just struck me. I have to wonder about what kinds of photos the artistic photographer suggested which were turned down?

  3. I don’t feel Miley did anything wrong. This whole situation is being blown out of proportion.I am so tired of people using the tv as a babysitter. She is human just like the rest of us stop depending on someone else to be a role model for your children and take responsibility to teach them morals and values at home.We still love Miley at our house and don’t feel she did anything to embarrass herself.

  4. I do not feel that Miley did anything wrong. I feel a lot of photographers will tell you anything to get what they want. I am a true believer in NO ONE person in this world is perfect we all make mistakes. My daughter who is a real big fan still watches faithfully.
    I will sit and watch we both love her. Someday I hope she will meet her in person.

  5. Thanks to all of you for these thoughtful comments. I think we all agree that Miley is a good kid who tries to do the right thing. I respect most the prompt and sincere way she addressed the concerns of her fans and their parents, perhaps the best lesson she can teach from this experience.

  6. I think Miley Cyrus is a good kid. We all do make mistakes and everyone on the inside should know she has a good heart. Maybe Mily would’ve known better then to do something horrific like that. But who knows, she could of been wearing a light singlet underneath the sheet …

  7. DUDE!!!!! it was a stupid picture and if u guys are freakin out about that then you guys are a bunch of retards! we all make bad choices and dont tell me you havent! you make her seem like shes such a bad person for being PROUD of her body! isnt that what we want!!! if anything we should be teaching younger siblings, sons, Daughters to be proud of themselves! miley set a standard of herself and she put it out there so what! overreact… no…. just butt out and stop being such protective parents yes at 15 there gonna do stupid crap…. so give her a break, and i have a feeling that you will make her a model for your daughters, on how to handle a scandle…..

  8. miley sos hermosa te adoro soy tu fan numero1 siempre te veo por la tv sos la mejor
    ceci y hanna montana

  9. hello as these I am very they fan yours I hope well that entonses if you can mandame a mail to israel_luis_11 already bye

  10. Blondie, as I said, I thought Miley responded very well to her mistake, in itself an important lesson. Maria Cecilia — gracias! And thanks to you, too, Israel.

  11. i think miley means it, that she really is sorry.. there’s nothing wrong about her,,butt sometimes i think people are a bit rude to her, like insulting her when she was with nick.

  12. She responded right to what she did, and also, this person could have just even made the picture on their computer, for Christ’s sake!

  13. I think Miley Cyrus Is pretty cool. I love her show!She has talent and so does Selena Gomez And Demi Lovato

  14. No one has the right to talk bad about any one that they dont know personally!!! And miley Cyrus maybe made some bad choices but know one has the right to run their mouths!!!! I didnt like miley cyrus but then I realized that kids make mistakes!!! I truly believe that shes sorry!!! But maybe Im wrong!!! Some people thing shes not setting a good example for kids, but that maybe true but people dont have to tell everybody about every mistake she makes!!!
    Shes Just A Kid!!!!!

  15. Thanks so much for this great comment, QMB! I agree that Miley handled her mistake well and learned from it. She’s just a kid, but everyone makes mistakes, even adults, and I appreciate your spirit of acceptance and understanding.

  16. in my opinion i say shes just a kid omfg she not perfect there is not one teen idol tht is not perfect JUST GIVE HER A BREAK shes my idol anyone have a problem with tht suck it up

  17. OK THIS IS RETARDED i agree with every comment that says SHES NOT PERFECT there is not one teen idol tht is perfect i dont expect her to not make mistakes she is MY IDOL IDC ABOUT THT PIC!!!

  18. Thanks for posting Jaimee, and I agree with you that no one should be expected to be perfect and that Miley’s response to the criticism was exactly right.
    I suggest you try to stay away from insults like “retarded,” though. If Miley is your idol, you should try to learn from her about how to respond with grace and maturity to live up to her example and to show those who might not understand the situation the way you do that you are a person of insight and credibility.

  19. Those pictures were not bad compared to Vanessa Anne Hudgens. One time I was looking a these pictures and it asked if you think Miley should have a camera phone and it asked if she was going to do it again . I chosed no for should she having a camera phone ( 98% chosed no) and yes for if she was going to do it again (89% chosed yes)

  20. Thank you, Dakota! Vanessa Anne Hudgens’ photos were not intended to be published and she was older. So I do not think it is a close comparison. But both young women regretted their poor judgment in trusting the wrong people and both have learned an important lesson and handled a difficult situation with grace.

  21. Oh No! A young girl is growing up and discovering her sexuality! We better try to sensationalize it and make it seem “bad” and “wrong” as vigorously as possible. Otherwise, how will our misogynistic belief system survive?
    Do you really think that a bare back is in some way improper? REALLY? Because that says a lot more about YOU than it does the person who participated in the shoot.

  22. It’s all about context, Megrog. This was not a young girl discovering her sexuality; it was a young girl being exploited in a way she did not understand. A bare back can be lovely and artistic but this particular pose was overly sexualized and inappropriate for a 15-year-old.

  23. That picture was in no way sexual. I’ve seen bikinis on two year-olds that are more sexual than the cover of Vanity Fair with Miley Cyrus.

  24. Thanks, Amber but it was not the cover photo that caused the controversy. I think the image could be interpreted in different ways and clearly the provocative reputation of the photographer contributed to the notion that Miley had been exploited or manipulated into something she did not fully understand.

  25. okay all of these comments seem so… political. its weird, but i think that she should have asked more about the shoot and if she didnt fully understand then why didnt she back outta the shoot?????

  26. Thanks for posting! She is lucky to have you as a fan. She is a great kid with a wonderful spirit.

  27. i can for give miley for wat she has done she hurt me really really really bad when the photos came out

  28. Thank you so much for sharing that, Julio. She has apologized and I’m glad you found it possible to forgive her. That’s an important lesson, too.


  30. i love miley and her song and the shows are gret- i dont really get wat the fuss was abou big whoop- she made a mistake- but she apolagised…

  31. The Vanity Fair picture wasn’t even bad.It just shows her back!! big whoop. Its like those shirts that tie around your neck and your back is open.Pretend she was wearing one of those. Its just a back!!!! I dont know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it. She even apologized. Get over yourselves people.

  32. Miley,
    you are amazing I love you soooooo much you are my role model, those vanity fair pics wern’t bad at all!
    I luv bein ur fan and i think u r amazin
    good luck for the future and good on you for making your dream come true xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  33. The Miley pics arent bad…. well the Showing skin isnt the Bad part its the fact they totally screw up her face which is one of her best feature, poor photographers if u ask me.
    i mean the pics looks like shes a Corpse! Miley deserves color and saturation.
    of course your just a christian who thinks everyone should act your way or be locked up.
    Miley is wonderful and a body should never be ashmed of no matter what age the Body is a Beautiful thing.
    you should devote your time into stopping the War not stopping a 15yo from showing her body, its her decision not yours. get over it.

  34. Miley,
    You are just amazing you are my role model and I love You and I want to meet you in person bye lolz!!!!!!!

  35. Miley,
    You rock and I really think that you are amazing and I love you. And those pics of yours were totally amazing, you are my role model, my fav singer in female celebs and actress. You totally rock and keep rockin’ on I love being your fan. Your songs ROCK LIKE ANYTHING!!!!!

  36. Miley,
    You are my role model and even though you took those photo’s I still look up to you!
    I love Hannah Montana and your great singing!!!
    Breakout is one of the best albums ever!!

  37. hi,miley i am a biggest fan of yours, i am from india & my name is kavya you rock on the screan & i love your songs keep rocking.

  38. miley,
    love mileyyyyyyyyyyyyyy u are my idollllllllllll i love you i wanna meat you face to face but i live in lebanon please come and do a concert at lebanon love youuuuuuuuuuuu u rockkkkkkkkkk!!!(k)

  39. Hi miley i love you and your songs. I’m from iran my name is nazanin. I love hannah montana

  40. Hi Miley I love your album its GREAT!! My favourite song is “Nobody’s perfect” I love you Miley, YOU ROCK!!

  41. MIley you are my hereo when i grow up i wanna be just like u i love ALL your songs i practice all day everyday i wanna meet u but i know i’ll never get the chance till im sixteen my self i’ve even entered your competition to be popstar for a day i live in birmingham

  42. Hey miley
    my name is Mariska and i stay in South Africa i only just started listening to ur music nd i really enjoy it u look nd sound like a really really nice person nd i think that the press should jst leave u alone with all the scandels i mean every teenager goes through a stage like of having boyfriends nd taking photos of them selves nd i mean even that its got nothing 2 do with them bt any ways ja u are an insperation 2 the uth of 2day

  43. Miley I love your songs there sooooooo nice my favourite song is pump up the party with us, nobodys perfect, and we got the party with us.

  44. Great to hear from Miley fans! Thanks for writing and be sure to see “Bolt” with Miley providing the voice for one of the characters. And check my blog later this week for more info on her new movie!

  45. Hi, Serina! I’m glad you’re a fan of “Hannah Montana.” I’m sorry she does not have time to answer all of her fans but I know she loves them all and is very excited and happy to read the emails.

  46. hi miley your so pretty..i love your show i always watch you in disney and i love all your songs…

  47. miley i just want to let you know all your songs mean something to me and it speical im 19 years old and i still watch disney i know it kinda old for that but that okay cause im not really normal i have alot of medical issues sometimes i cant even get out of the house cause im always sick im more like you, your hannah monta and normal miley but on the another hand. i have 2 lives as well one at home with no friends and other is hospital life. probley about 40 sugries in all my years
    i just wish i was your friend and maybe we can work thee out..
    i would love have a friend someone like you.
    you seem very cool
    i wish you were at my house and have good time!
    i live in austin texas look me up or email me

  48. Jessica, Miley loves her fans, even when she does not have time to write to them. If you visit her website, though, you can see some special messages. I am so glad you wrote and I hope you will add more comments here. I love to hear from you and hope you feel better.

  49. sup miley i love your songs they are awsome i hope 2 see u in real life one day (= *_*

  50. miley is awsome i love her soongs because i have da cd of her i am going to her concert so shame suckers hahahahahahaha just jokes lolz
    if you read this you are a hippo hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  51. sup miley i am only 10 yrs old but some time in my life i hope to meet u korel
    if u are loking 4 someone that is 10 send something 2 me

  52. miley i went on youtube and so sorry about yours and nick jonases brack up he is kinda hot but yea so sorry i know what it is like to be dumped but nick caught u flurting with another boy so so so so so so so sorry did u rely like nick because no affence but that other dude was quite ugly u and nick were a better match imean u can go with whoever u want its your life gtg bye go with whoever u want

  53. ?I still ? Miley, and just recently saw Hannah Monatana The Movie!! It was awesome!! ?

  54. miley cyrus is the best
    because she is a good singer
    she has a great voice
    she loves to sing
    i love her music
    and her songs with all my heart
    she a rolemodle to everyone
    so i like her music better than selean gomez,
    demi lovato

  55. I am so sorry about what happend I don’t think it’s fair if anyone else did that they would’nt be botherd I think people should start thinking about the person and think how they would feel if someone did that to them I think it is so rude!!!

  56. miley is great i love her songs & voice but she needs to make better decisions bad choice miley i thought you were better than that

  57. miley cyrus only made a bad decision because of all the media pressure and peer pressure to be popular, she is a great singer and dancer and a brilliant rolemodel for teenagers, people, stop giving her a hard time!!!!
    she has moved on and so should everyone else…miley u got my support girl u rock

  58. Thanks, Jypsie-Louise (great screen name!). It is bad judgment to succumb to peer pressure and media pressure but it is understandable and I hope both Miley and her fans have learned a lesson from it. It is important for everyone to understand that the celebrities we admire make mistakes, too, and we can still forgive and support them, just as we do the other people in our lives. Thanks for a great comment!

  59. mily u know wut they say about u is not true u just put that up there to get more famouse.its working but not in a good way

  60. Hey Miley I LOVE U so much i hope u come down to Australia to do one of ya concerts and it would be nice to C U perform
    ILY miley im ya biggest fan I LOVE U!!!!!!

  61. My daughter adores Miley Cyrus. We never had a problem with that until recently when some compromising photos and stories about her started popping up. We would never force our child to either start liking or stop liking something or someone. We respect and trust her enough to let her make her own decisions (with our guidance, of course). I like the suggestions you referred to here. Thanks! We’ll definitely tackle some of these things with her.

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