Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Growing Up?? Too Fast??

It started with Annette Funicello in the 1950s. I wasn't there to see it, but I believe that it did happen. In recent years (months) we have watched the rise and subsequent disintegration of teen pop icons Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Nicole Richie, Lindsey Lohan, R Kelly, Kanye West- do we need to go on to sports figures, political leaders, etc.?

Now we see a huge hubbub concerning some pictures of current tween queen Miley Cyrus. (You may know her as Hannah Montana.) There are photos of Miss Cyrus in the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Some of these photos include Miley with her father, country singer and television actor Billy Ray Cyrus. The furror is about what seems to be the sexually suggestive nature of some of the pictures. Some have said that they are completely inappropriate for a 15 year old girl. I have two thoughts. First of all, it is too bad that there is a whole generation of girls who will miss out on childhood. Secondly, the consequences of this tendency are frightening. If we dress 10 year olds like 16 year olds, we should expect 12 year olds to have unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

First of all, our culture glamorizes teen sexuality. We, whether we realize it or not, encourage children to grow up. We legitimize sexuality at younger and younger ages. Eight year old girls are wearing low rise pants and half shirts. They are piercing navels and being suggestive at earlier ages and in more situations. This is a tragedy. The great memories of life are of being children. If we push our young people into adulthood they will lose out on the greatest joys of life.

Finally, let's not get to worked up about the photos in question. Although you can read into them a tantalizing back-story, it is not necessary. You can look at a teen-age girl who seems to be recently finished with a sexual encounter, or you can see a young girl. Period.

I lament the state of our world. I am sad for what our culture is doing to young people, especially girls. But I am going to do everything I can to not further complicate the situation. I am going to give Miley Cyrus and her parents, and photographer Annie Liebovitz the benefit of the doubt. I am not going to see trash where I do not need to.

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