A Belated Defense of Miley Cyrus

Last weekend's opening sketch on SNL featuring Miley Cyrus (you can watch it here) prompted me to finally go and watch her infamous twerking performance at this year's VMAs. I had, of course, heard all about it, mostly from a dear friend who is the mother of a one-year old daughter. Her Facebook posts immediately after the VMAs made it clear she was concerned with the normalization of over-sexualized behavior in young women, i.e., if the media kept this up, by the time her daughter was twelve she'd be swinging from a pole.

Now it may just be because I don't have a daughter to visualize swinging from said pole, but my response to Miley's "show" was precisely this: what was all the fuss about? I stopped watching MTV sometime in the '90s, but I do catch the odd music video in the gym and can confidently state that young, scantily clad women dancing like strippers is hardly groundbreaking stuff. Instead, for all my mother-friends, I offer two signs of hope from Miley's performance.

First, she was surrounded by plus-sized back-up dancers. Setting aside the fact that they were wearing over-sized teddy bears on their backs, let's hear it for seeing some babes with back front-and-center on a major awards shows. Isn't it a positive trend to show some normal-sized asses on TV?

Second, she was wearing sneakers. Granted she wasn't wearing much else, but, at least from the ankles down, Miley Cyrus looked age-appropriate. She could dance in those shoes, which is more than you can say about Madonna in her Superbowl performance a few years back when she could hardly stand up in her stiletto boots. I am far less outraged about a young pop star gyrating in a sequined leotard than I am about the way stripper shoes have now become part of mainstream women's fashion. It used to be that platform, 4+ inch heels were only available at Frederick's of Hollywood, but these days you can get a pair anywhere from Target (pictured above) to Barney's. And ladies, I didn't spend five years of higher education studying economics not to notice that's down to one reason and one reason alone: we (at least some of us) are buying them!

In my mind, the beginning of the shoe apocalypse happened one morning when I spotted Ann Curry on the Today Show (yes, it was back when she still had that job) wearing a pair of stripper shoes with her otherwise staid attire. I was so outraged I even posted on Facebook about it. Since when did shoes you can't even walk in become go-to professional attire? What ever happened to Audrey Hepburn and the kitten heel definition of femininity? In my mind, it was far darker day for feminism when Ann, a woman representing a strong, successful role model, broke out the stripper shoes than it was when Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter twerked.

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