A leading headteacher recently claimed Miley Cyrus’ raunchy image was damaging to teenage girls. She claims young women are “manipulated and confused” by the mixed messages from the controversial star.
Talking about Miley’s transformation from clean-cut Hannah Montana to raunchy “twerking” singer, Jo Heywood, head of Heathfield School in Ascot, said: “Worryingly, Miley has apparently said she does not know what all the fuss is about. However, I think there is plenty to be concerned about, especially when these once clean-cut role models steer another course so publicly.”
But I think Ms Heywood is massively underestimating our children. Of course we want our kids to have good examples to look up to but there are far more suitable candidates than Ms Cyrus.
There are athletes, performers, creative talents, entrepreneurs and philanthropists at every turn –plenty for the young to aspire to.
No self-respecting secondary pupil is going to consider nudity and simulating sex acts as an enduring career choice over, say, a respected profession or a less sexualised branch of the creative arts.
Of course the media will always be interested in people famous for who they marry or how they look, that’s nothing new. When Miley took her kit off and clambered aboard the building site equipment, she knew the resultant column inches wouldn’t be for her vocal range. However, our children are smart enough to know the difference between the artificial glare of interest to sell newspapers and illumination from genuine achievement… or they should be.
And in any case, it’s not those at a distance on a lofty stage that have the greatest influence over teenagers, a 2007 survey by the Scouts showed that the majority of 13 to 18 year olds said that mum or dad were the greatest positive influence in their lives.
So it’s their parents who teach them about write and wrong, instil a work ethic and a moral compass. Teenagers making the headlines for attention displays in public places are only a distraction – a talking point.
Miley’s exploits are only a threat if they are the only reference a youngster has. Well balanced kids with parents who care know that Ms C is less act to follow and more case study.
I’m surprised headteacher Heywood doesn’t have more faith in her charges to make their own minds up about what is and isn’t a good influence. Miley’s Wrecking Ball won’t do any harm to our children.