An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus, From a Concerned Mom

You need some help -- and I hope your mother tells you so

Dear Miley,

Last night, after your (how do I put this?) awkwardly degrading performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, I saw your mom get on her feet and applaud.

If I were your mother, you’d be getting a stern talking-to this morning.

That was not art, and it was not sexy. It was desperate. Remember the uproar when you danced suggestively in short shorts and incorporated a stripper pole into your performance a few years ago? We yearn for the simpler time of that stripper pole now. Last night’s show was a Cry for Help in the USA. Even Robin Thicke, who pervs it up with nude women in the "Blurred Lines" video, looked a little skeeved out by you rubbing all over him. And what was all that nasty business with the tongue?

I get it: You’re no longer Hannah Montana -- and that’s ok. Knock yourself out with that tough chick haircut. It’s normal for a growing woman to want to leave girlish things behind. But that doesn’t mean you need to leave your talent behind, too – and I didn’t see a bit of that on display last night. (I did, however, have an expansive view of your ass cheeks.) Instead, I saw a little girl playing the saddest game of dress-up ever, trying on every sexual cliché you can think of and some no one would think of (see: foam finger self-love), but none of them ringing true. If you’re going to try to out-Gaga Gaga, you should have a point of view you’re in control of, and a stronger, more resonant message than “up yours, Disney!”

You’re just 20 years old, not even old enough to go to a bar and still very much someone’s daughter. But I don’t think you’re getting the parenting you need, because a parent would have told you don’t need to act out like that on live TV for people to love you (and certainly would not have given you a standing O for it). I couldn’t help but think of your parents’ rocky relationship, as well as your own on-and-off engagement, as I watched you flail around onstage, trying desperately to prove how grown-up you are. Someone needs to give you a hug, and love you in the hardest way a parent can love their child: by not always saying yes.

As a mother to a daughter myself (a daughter who, thankfully, was in bed and didn’t watch), I want to raise a woman who’s proud of her body and in control of her sexuality. But part of that is letting her know it’s important to put on the brakes when something feels wrong. And that performance just felt so, so wrong.

Your mama should have told you so.

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