Considering people flipped out when 15-year-old Miley Cyrus was photographed wearing a sheet, yet pictures of 17-year-old Taylor Lautner shirtless and wet are all over magazines, websites and TV, Lindsay Robertson wants to know: Does Hollywood have a double standard?
It's not fair to moan about the sexualization of a young woman and then print lusty images of a young man. A minor is a minor is a minor.
Here are my thoughts: We live in a world in which young women are sexualized way before young men. Suri Cruise is wearing heels; Catholic schoolgirls are seen as "jailbait"; countries have child brides; there are "Lolita" fashion trends. This civilization has a consistent history of the male gaze focused on underaged girls. Intellectually, I understand that young women are not weak, potential victims in need of our protection. Society's obsession with keeping girls from growing up too fast — from denouncing Slutoween to holding purity balls — can be grating. But for me, there is a difference between Miley Cyrus with tousled hair in a bedsheet and Taylor Lautner shirtless: You can see shirtless young men anywhere — playing basketball, at the beach. A 15-year-old, seemingly without a top on, in bed? That's taking it a step further.
Of course, I'll be the first to admit that my views are skewed after working at a teen magazine for 7 years. As part of my job description, I had to assess if one 15-year-old boy was "hotter" than another, and find the "cutest" pictures of then-under-21-year-olds like Justin Timberlake, Rupert Grint and Prince Harry. It didn't seem creepy at the time, as it wasn't about sex, but about drawing on my own experiences and memories, tapping into my inner teenage girl. We were using headshots, focusing on smiles and eyes and dreamy stuff like that. And yeah, I am going to rationalize this until the day I die, because, dammit, cute boys are cute! Okay, okay: Taylor Lautner is hot. There's definitely sex appeal there. Sue me. Would it be creepy if I were a man choosing images of underaged girls? Probably. Is that fair? Nope. Welcome to the world.