I remember the first ever pilot episode of Hannah Montana back in 2006, I was eleven, Miley was 12 and I remember quickly becoming obsessed with her. At school I was often teased by a lot of people, even friends for liking her when she was “innocent” and “Disney safe” and then when she went on to cause some controversy. (I’m still teased for liking her now).
She obviously has gained a bit of a bad reputation but has had one since she was around 15. It was around the time she did a provocative photo-shoot for vanity fair and was seen using a “stripping” routine at a VMA’s performance, though I always blamed her management for letting her get involved in projects like that when she was underage, rather than her herself. Regardless, I still loved her, I still loved her talent, her bright personality and yes, I always had a huge crush on her. I always believed that Disney was responsible in making stars into train wrecks when they were younger but they nearly always came through the other end fine. For me I believed Miley Cyrus would be no different. Then obviously the infamous 2013 VMA’s performance with Robin Thicke (Yes the debut of the twerking and tongue routine) blew up and wow, Miley’s credibility was almost completely lost, understandably so. She had failed to showcase her talent and instead just, honestly embarrassed herself in-front of many hard working stars.
However, again I chose to stick it out and support her as let’s face it, she was a child star, she had never had true freedom, she had come from a religious family, not to mention a stereotypical “pageant” mum and her life had been governed by Disney for so long, she was bound to act out. Listening to the song “Robot” from her album “Can’t be tamed” made me realize just how controlled she was as a young star. I went from believing that her VMA performance was a tragic mistake to actually a well thought out publicity stunt that she was happy to do. Why? She still doesn’t regret it and why is that? Because she was desperate to get rid of her Disney reputation and her image as a clean, innocent role model, after all she was 21 at this point, she wasn’t a virgin, she drank, she partied, she smoked weed but let’s face it SO many young people do and she probably didn’t get a chance to get all this stuff out of her system when she was a teen because of Disney practically holding a gun to her head if she failed to live up to her “angel cupcake cutie pie” image. Besides the fact she had gotten so tired of being labeled a bad role model, she kind of got to a point where she no longer cared about what people said and kind of had a “ok you want out of control, i’ll give you out of control” attitude.
She was desperate to erase the idea she was Hannah Montana and not Miley Cyrus, a star in her own right. The simple fact is, people need to stop seeing her as Hannah Montana, they need to stop seeing her as a Disney star and they need to stop seeing her as a child. Make no mistake, she IS a role model, just not the same kind of role model she was 2006-2012. I get it, how can a girl who strips on stage and has a potty mouth be such a good role model? Start examining the reasons why she is a good role model to young adults, rather than kids and tweens.
Miley Cyrus for Paper magazine, an interview where she spoke about Happy Hippie Foundation
Miley Cyrus has started up her own charity named “Happy Hippie Foundation” a charity organization that fights for homeless youth, LGBTQA youth and other vulnerable populations. Miley Cyrus is not only the founder but she is more involved in her charity than any other aspect of her career as a star. Almost everything she posts now on facebook, instagram and pretty much every other platform of social media is something to do with her charity, she had a new single out that I, a die hard Miley fan didn’t even know about because she spends far more time talking about her charity than promoting her music. That’s so admirable in itself considering 80% of stars are constantly plugging things that get money in their own pockets.
Aside from that every public appearance at events like the VMA’s, Grammy’s, galas etc she ALWAYS brings a date that helps a worthy cause. Last year she brought a homeless man to an awards ceremony and when she won an award for her music, spent her entire speech talking about homeless youth in America and how we should be helping them. Even more recently she brought someone who identifies as agender (non gender specific) and a transgender man along with promoting an array of people and couples with different genders and sexualities on the charity itself. She constantly promotes this idea of acceptance for all and loving each other simply as other human beings rather than shaming those different to you. Not to mention her coming out as genderfluid and bisexual (though I think she’s happier without a label) really helped me come to terms with my own sexuality and feelings towards others.
This month she was also awarded at the amFAR awards, an organisation that promotes awareness and help for AIDS/HIV sufferers where again she gave a ten minute moving speech on how she focuses not on what she’s done, but what there is still left to do in terms of helping others, and also stated there were others that should have got the award instead of her. She also supports feminism greatly and was the one who inducted Joan Jett into the rock & roll hall of fame and spent a good fifteen minutes talking about how much Joan Jett had done for women in music and women in general. What was even better was that it was such a genuine speech and was spoken on a personal level as Miley does have a great friendship with Joan Jett herself. Miley also gets really involved with her fans, making real time for them at meet & greet events and there is not a single decent celebrity who has insulted her or not praised her good will towards others in the past few years.
So with all this you would think everyone would love her right? I mean how can you dislike someone who so clearly devotes so much time and money to others? It’s easy, people seem to always brandish her with the same title every single time. Slut. While I am completely aware that Miley strips and dances provocatively with others, is that really what we are going to judge her on? Her nakedness? Is that really the most important thing people should focus on? Half her nakedness is because she promotes the “free the nipple” movement, which while you don’t have to want to take part in, I think everyone can agree the ridiculousness that is labeling women’s nipples as more sexual than men’s when women are actually the ones who need nipples for a reason. That aside, when it comes to her “slutty” appearance I can’t help but just scream out “WHO CARES???” She is a 22 year old woman who is comfortable in her body, I find the pictures she posts in zit cream and heart shaped pasties on her nipples in order to not get removed on instagram a lot less offensive and provocative than a page 3 model posing seductively purely for the sake of the male gaze.
While nakedness on celebs might be something you look down on period, is it really enough to warrant somebody being a bad role model? It seems that we also judge Miley more than any other female star who does things like this? Beyonce does provocative dance moves and wears revealing clothes or has done in the past and all I see are comments like “omg slay queen” or “bae is so fierce” yet with Miley it’s a different story. Let’s be real, both women, if not all women slay when they comfortable in themselves and doing things for them and not others. Let’s not even get started on the difference between how she is received compared to how a male star posing nude is received, that’s a whole other can of patriarchal worms to open.
If you think somebody cannot be a feminist because they wear too little or too much clothing, you have missed the point of feminism entirely and as for role models, if I had a 22 year old daughter who, yes smoked weed and went out partying like so many other 22 year old’s around her would be doing BUT made time for so many charities and had a level of acceptance for others that everyone should aspire to, Iet’s just say I would be a very proud mother indeed.