And then they’re not so cute anymore.
These young people work from the time they’re my son’s age (10) or younger. They’re traded like commodities, they’re dumped, they’re ignored, and in some cases I’d venture to guess they’re even abused. They have no friends. They wait endlessly in trailers surrounded by adults (some of whom are their own parents) who are there merely to make a buck off their cuteness. And what happens when they grow up and become anything less than a bombshell to be used, traded and exploited in other ways?
They could have a life. But they haven’t been taught how.
They haven’t been taught to expect friends to appreciate them as human beings, or to identify the alternative. They feel they must buy their friends, or out-cool their friends, or out-shock their so-called friends, and then the spiral will suck them up and cast them out when the winds die down.
I can’t imagine the stillness, the emptiness, the loneliness, the devastation when those winds die down. When the jobs dry up, and they’re no longer working longer days than laws are supposed to allow, surrounded by hair and makeup and Kraft Service. Especially when they inevitably find themselves in that nowhere land between Disney Princess and Disney Mom. What then? They know no other way than to seek attention; to wear their failures out in front of a lens for the paparazzi and you and me and the entire world to see and to judge. They become fodder for late night jokes, and for hash tags they can’t escape, because they can’t look away. They need reentry training like an ex-con. But for them, it doesn’t exist.
They COULD have a life, but they don’t know how.
In some cases, their education on the fly may have left them less than prepared to do anything outside the Disney business. They could write and produce their own projects, but they’ve probably never been taught to manage anything or to build anything or to create anything. They follow directions. They do what they’re told. They keep quiet.
We live in a world that’s become callous and lacks compassion and that values little beyond beauty and entertainment value.
No one is writing jokes for them anymore, or orchestrating scenes on their behalf, and no one ever told them they’re worth anything beyond a script written by someone else. No one ever told them that God doesn’t make mistakes; that they’re perfect just as they are without the team of hair stylists that straighten their hair and makeup artists that cover their freckles and wardrobe that disguises the undesirable and the ugly and the fat and the too long or too short parts of them--those who make them presentable to the world, but who otherwise may ignore them, or talk behind their backs and perhaps label them spoiled brats.
So who’s responsible? How can we point and laugh and shake our heads in disgust and not accept at least some of the blame for the abyss that occurs after Disneyland casts them aside, when we are the Princess-hungry Disney wolf, lying in wait for them to fall.
AUTHOR UPDATE 08/28/13: It's bound to happen, as the discussion continues...but I came across a post that follows a similar vein and feels worthy of sharing. I kept mine very simple and to one point (something I'm not particularly known for, but I'm working on it). The reason I lent my voice to the discussion at all, amid Syria and everything else that's happening in the world, is because self-esteem and mentoring young girls and women is something I'm concerned about. I have four young nieces and I've raised two daughters, and once upon a time, I was a girl myself who, when I was precisely Miley's age, gave birth to a daughter whom I raised alone, with no child support, for the first six years of her life. I know every way from sideways how fast girls can be lost, and how difficult it is for us to forgive ourselves for some of the choices we make when we are young, and then find our way to believe we deserve to take back our lives. So yeah, I care. If you haven't already, please check out Rihanna's post, "A Letter to Miley Cyrus," that's gone positively viral, with some pretty rough comments among the positive ones. She expresses her compassion for the difficult parts of growing up as a child star, as I did, but she calls Miley out about the, as I stated below, personal responsibility for her choices in the matter, and why they're so important. Because they are trying to figure out how to define themselves and who they want to be, Pop Culture changes the way regular young girls view themselves. When we know better, we do better, and there is a missing piece inherent in some who grow up a child stars that I believe predisposes some young women like Miley & Lindsay & Amanda to a massively skewed sense of themselves.
Here's why I felt compelled to share it, and you can read the rest of Rihanna's post, here:
2. I know I mentioned that a 12 year old should never have to be a role model, but as you have been very clear, you are no longer 12. You are 20. Therefore, you now have the responsibility of being a role model. So when you sing about getting a line in the bathroom, getting high on Molly, shaking it like you’re at a strip club, and doing whatever you want, you are sending the wrong message to girls everywhere. You see, you are the exception to the general rule. When you do those things, you get media attention. You get paid for club appearances. You get checks in the mail for your iTunes downloads. But when our girls do that, they get pregnant. They get addicted to heroin and end up on the streets leaving their family and friends in constant fear and grief over them. They drop out of school. They get kicked out of college and lose their scholarships. So, they really do end up shaking it at a strip club in order to pay the rent for themselves and their deadbeat boyfriends who can’t hold a job because of their alcohol dependency. You see, your music paints a false picture of what reality is. Partying and using drugs doesn’t lead to number one hits and nights filled with champagne, limo service, paparazzi attention and Snoop Dogg (lion?) calling you his homie. It leads to disaster, poverty, heartache and unfortunately for some, death.