I’m not one for tabloid media nor do I really care about Miley Cyrus, but this story is everywhere and everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Bill O’Reilly are weighing in on the issue, so I might as well throw my two cents on top of the change heap.

Miley Cyrus and Vanity Fair

Miley Cyrus – who’s currently in the process of legally changing her name from Destiny Hope Cyrus (can you blame her?) – is 15-years-old. She is probably best known for playing Hannah Montana on Disney Channel’s original series by the same name. She was invited to be in Vanity Fair and work with the famous Annie Leibovitz, who is arguably currently the best photographer in the world, known for her tasteful and creative photos of celebrities. The above picture of Miley graces the current issue of VF and seems to have parents, fans and Bill O’Reilly up in arms.

Reeling from the backlash, her handlers no doubt forced her to issue this statement yesterday:

For Vanity Fair, I was so honored and thrilled to work with Annie. I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed.

That just sucks. I can understand damage control – you make a PR move, it backfires, you want to save face – I get that. What I don’t get is throwing other people under the bus who you approved to help you. I also don’t understand who thought it would be a good idea to blame Annie Leibovitz of all people, who is essentially infallible in her arena.

Personally, I think the photo looks great. Annie has managed to make an otherwise plain looking girl look beautiful with this classic pose. I don’t think it’s very erotic at all. People think that Miley was completely nude underneath the blanket, when in reality she was wearing long, black pants. If we replace the blanket with a backless gown, which would show about as much skin, would Miley be condemned as she is?

Sexualization is in the Eye of the Beholder

It’s a funny thing about sexuality. In many cases it’s more about how the viewer sees the subject and less about how the subject projects him or herself. Imagine, if you will, taking 10-years off Miley’s age and make her a 5-year-old who’s just had a bath. She’s wrapped in a blanket, she has wet hair and she’s staring at the camera. Aw, cute picture.

Now add 10-years to Miley’s current age and make her a 25-year-old in the same pose for Vanity Fair. Wow, beautiful, Annie’s done it again!

But at 15 it’s apparently embarrassing, because people fear that pubescent boys and lonely men will ogle her…back…? Society needs a reality check. Is the problem the subject or the viewer’s inappropriate response to the subject?

If the problem is the former then we as a society need to do something about all of those inappropriately dressed cheerleaders, French maids, Girl Scouts, and Japanese and Catholic school girls.

If you ask me, this photo is much racier and provocative than the Vanity Fair spread.

Edit: This post originally stated that Miley Cyrus was on the cover of Vanity Fair, which is incorrect. Working Author regrets the error.