A Sign of the Times

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 28, 2008 11:57 AM
Controversy is swirling over the provocative Vanity Fair shots of Miley Cyrus, a 15 year old who is a heroine to millions of little girls all across the country.

Vanity Fair says her parents were present for the entire shoot, and thus implicitly approved the shots; an anchor on Fox television here in LA reported this morning that Cyrus' parents claim the photo was taken after they had left the set.

Whatever.

These sorts of episodes were the impetus behind the writing of my book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)."  It's regrettable that we live in a time when it's entirely possible that a young girl's parents would approve such a photo of their daughter . . . and equally regrettable that it's entirely possible that, in their absence, a photographer would feel free to convince a young woman to act in a way likely to cause her embarrassment and trouble down the road, all in the interests of being "edgy" and "sexy" -- and, of course, garnering some great publicity.

Fifteen year old girls are prone to making errors in judgment -- and the likelihood of such errors are increased exponentially when the culture sends a message that "sexiness" at all times, in all places is an unqualified good. 

That's what adults are supposed to be around for . . . to offer some mature common sense and a little judgment.  That goes for Annie Leibowitz as well as Cyrus' parents (especially if the parents had already left).  The fact that one is an "artist" doesn't really justify exploiting a 15 year old's sexuality in order to create a sensation -- or even "art."  It is possible, after all, to create beautiful pictures of an attractive young woman without suggesting that she's just tumbled out of bed.