Miley Cyrus Isn't A Role Model For Your Kids: That's Your Job

Celebrity Sex Scandal: Miley Cyrus VMA Performance

I'm sure by now youve either seen or heard about the performance by Miley Cyrus on the VMAs. Let me start by saying that I didn't like it at all. It showed little creativity and far less talent by her or any of the performers. I watched the show with my three teenagers and they weren't fans either. In fact, I think they all agreed that it was "gross."

I've since read numerous blogs criticizing Miley, our sexist culture, the "industry" and the lack of modesty among today's young people. I don't disagree with any of that. Miley's performance was uncomfortably sexual, bordering on pedophilia as she gyrated on stage with the twice-her-age married Robin Thicke. It was painful and uncomfortable to watch. It was neither sexy nor appealing, and none of it looked like the actions of an empowered young woman. 

Yet, the vicious attacks on the 20-year-old Miley Cyrus hurt worse than watching her performance. The calls of slut, whore, idiot, screwed up — and worse — made my heart hurt for a girl just five years older than my daughter. I don't believe that Miley is a victim in this situation, nor is she without agency. Yet I do believe that she is a 20-year-old surrounded by mixed messages and people who may not have her best interest at heart. Maybe compassion instead of condemnation should be in order. 

And here's what I would ask each of you who are so angrily criticizing her: have you never done something simply dreadful that you regretted almost instantly? Did you make all of the right decisions when you were 20? I certainly didn't, and much of the mischief that I engaged in at that age was far more dangerous to myself and others than lewd dancing with some bad tongue action. Luckily, I wasn't famous enough to have millions view my dreadful deeds. Yet I am as guilty as Miley, and I'm guessing most of us probably have a few events in our past that aren't so pretty. Why is it so easy for all of us to judge another so readily, and with such viciousness? 

The comments about Miley's mother also leave me scratching my head: "Where was her mother in all of this?" I'm guessing that if Miley is like most of the 20-year-olds I know, she actively pursues the things her mother tells her not to. I did, and truth be told, still do. Being 20 is confusing. It's scary, and I'm sure it's even harder when the world wants you to look and behave as if you were still a 12-year-old country bumpkin. Miley doesn't owe it to you or your children to be a good role model. It would be nice if she was, but ultimately that's not her job. It's yours. 

Until I was a mother, I was one judgmental, self-righteous, pain in the ass. Having children knocked some sense into me, brought perspective to a crazy world and forced this arrogant know-it-all to stop and take note of her less than perfect self. Judging Miley doesn't make you and I better people. Making fun of her, even if she seemed to ask for it, is still bullying. It's still the tearing down of another flawed human.

Is that really the world we want to live in? I want Miley Cyrus to put on some clothes and make better choices but I can't be too hard on her because I was once a confused, scared, attention-seeking 20-year-old who made some pretty rotten choices herself. I'll start judging her more harshly when I'm perfect — which ought to be any day now. 

Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach at

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