Ever heard of Selena Gomez? The 15-year-old singer/actress is in the most recent issue of People and is being touted as "the new Miley Cyrus," since as we all know, Miley crossed the invisible, ever-changing line into Lolita-ville with her racy Vanity Fair spread. M. Gigi Durham, the author of The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It, has no problem with Miley's burgeoning sexuality, she tells Salon today. But she does have a problem with the fact that Miley is being forced to explore it on a world stage.
"She is 15, and she is in this transitional period where her body is changing, and she should be exploring and recognizing her sexuality," Durham says. "She's moving into womanhood. To me, the big issue is not that she should be pure and innocent and chaste, but rather should her body be put on display…aren't there other ways for us to think about female sexuality rather than just this exhibitionist mode?" Short answer: there should be!
Durham also gives advice about what parents can do to help their daughters avoid becoming Bratz-ified, and most of it has to do with making young girls aware of advertising campaigns and their underlying messages. "Just pull out some of the media," Durham tells parents. "Every magazine cover has '405 ways to look hot!' Just say: 'What does it mean to look hot?' Once you start bringing it up, I've found that they're very critical of the whole issue, and they want to be seen as multidimensional people with talents and abilities beyond this ridiculous standard of hotness. Helping them find strength in that critical voice that they have is really important."
Another possible word of advice to parents: do not let your children be employed by the Disney corporation. The reason Selena got her spread in People, according to pundits, Disney executives are so worried about Cyrus' recent controversies that they want to make Gomez an even bigger star…until, of course, she has her first crotch shot in Us Weekly, after which they'll find a new high school freshman to exploit and then dispose of.