Miley Cyrus and Other Teen American Idols

August 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm 7 comments

Since Miley Cyrus’s controversial performance on the Teen Choice awards earlier this week ( Video link ) there has been a surge of discussion in the media and beyond about teen idols in our society. Four days after the performance, online discussion boards are still buzzing with parents and other adults trying to decide whether or not the 16 year old superstar’s live performance with bra straps showing, black leather short shorts and a “pole dance” crossed the line and what should be done about it.

It’s always good when adults question the status quo of our mainstream media and the messages that children/teens receive as a result. But when these topics naturally arise in our society as they have right now, it is also a perfect opportunity to spark a meaningful conversation with girls. Let’s ask them to critically think about what is being presented to youth on a daily basis on television, movies and advertisements.

Asking open-ended questions about the topic as opposed to yes/no questions will solicit critical thinking. Bring up the controversy about Miley’s performance in a non-judgmental way and ask, “How did you perceive Miley Cyrus and her performance? Do you think it was controversial? Why? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it?”

Allow them the space to investigate the subject in a broad sense as well as just addressing the specific issue at hand. “What qualities do you think should make up an American idol? What qualities does the media tell us make an American idol? How are the ideas from the media different from your own? How are they the same? Who are some of your idols and why?”

A nice way to wrap up a discussion like this would be to ask some application questions, inspiring action and relating the situation to their individual lives. How does this apply to your own life? What is one thing you can do to change the media landscape in the direction that you’d like it to go in (if you’d like it to change)?

Asking thought provoking, open questions and being an active listener without injecting judgment into the conversation will provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere for girls to think and talk about these issues as they arise. If you don’t address these topics, we may miss the opportunity to allow girls to perceive the media and teen idols in their own unique way and to think more deeply about not only what is “worth” idolizing, but more importantly, what are the characteristics that they aspire to emulate.

– Moorea Dickason
Training Coordinator at the Girls Circle Association


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7 Comments Add your own

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  • […] May 14, 2010 I’m willing to bet that the majority of our Girls Circle community has been saddened at some point by sexed-up portrayals of young girls – whether found in images of beauty pageants, “Bratz” dolls, or Miley Cyrus videos.  (Check out our post on Miley Cyrus’s Teen Choice Awards performance.) […]

  • 5. Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth  |  August 20, 2009 at 2:23 am

    “y’all come back now y’hear?’ (was that the Beverly Hilbilies?) Am I showing my age? 😉

  • 6. Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth  |  August 20, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Nice job posing some open-ended questions sans judgment; it helps to get kids talking and building the critical thinking skills! Here are a few similar posts on Shaping Youth that might lend a hand…

    The Miley Mess & Role Model Reverb: What to Do:

    And a few others along those lines re: So Sexy so Soon positioning and the toll on girls:

    And this week’s interview w/the authors:

    Tx for the follow on Twitter, I would’ve never found you…we should team up when appropo!

    • 7. girlscircleassociation  |  August 20, 2009 at 2:06 am

      Thanks, Amy. I checked out your site – LOVE IT. Thanks for addressing all the important issues for our youth and for promoting what is important to read and listen to. Best! ~Giovanna


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