Why Is Miley Cyrus on Image-Change Overdrive?

Torn between being America's Sweetheart and the next Lady Gaga, the 17-year-old singer is at a crossroads

Miley Cyrus seems conflicted these days. Like many 17-year-olds, the pop star is growing up fast. To complicate matters, celeb blogger Perez Hilton has been taunting her by posting and tweeting links to nearly-NSFW images of the underage singer (claiming he "thought it was funny" -- meanwhile, dozens of iVillagers commented to say you feel just the opposite). While out promoting her new Can't Be Tamed album, Miley's often pushing the envelope with a risque move or fashion choice, but then quickly retreating behind her Hannah Montana good-girl image.

Case in point: Earlier this month, Cyrus was photographed kissing one of her dancers during a performance. When the image hit the web, she immediately hopped onto her blog, to swear that she hadn't actually kissed the dancer, and "nothing happened." More recently, Cyrus went on Ryan Seacrest's radio show to explain that, even though she writhes around in the video for her single "Can't Be Tamed," she's actually extremely tame.

"If I'm ever seen out dancing at a club having fun, I don’t want people to immediately go, 'Oh, she's on drugs, she's drunk,'" Cyrus said. "I'm never going to be that person. As long as I steer clear of that and keep that mind frame, I think I'll be cool."

We applaud Cyrus's commitment to staying sober, but why does it seem like she's working overtime to find a balance between being America's Sweetheart and the next Lady Gaga? Her performances and videos have courted controversy for being so sexy, but as soon as she gets offstage, Cyrus seems in denial, almost as if she's not comfortable with her new image.

All teenagers test their boundaries, and if Miley is a little conflicted about how sexual she can be, well, aren't all women? The problem seems to be that she's being pushed too far too soon, and she's not being adequately protected. If she had better image control, that bump-and-grind video or that snapshot of the girl-on-girl kiss might never have seen the light of day. And if she's not comfortable writhing around in lingerie, then she shouldn't be doing it in her videos.

It's difficult to age gracefully in show business, but it's not impossible: For every Lindsay Lohan, there's a well-adjusted Natalie Portman or Mandy Moore. Miley is still figuring out  who she's trying to be. If she goes at her own pace (and stays off drugs, as she's promised), she could have a long career ahead of her.

Do you think Miley Cyrus is trying too hard to change her image? Chime in below!

Like This? Read these!
- Perez Hilton Defends Miley Cyrus Photo on Joy Behar's Show
- What Do You Think About the Miley Cyrus Photo Controversy?

- Miley Cyrus Kisses a Girl on Stage
- Miley Cyrus Disses Glee

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