Miley Cyrus and Identity
This was not the blog I started writing tonight. Got about halfway through that one and maybe you’ll see it later in the week.
But I had Miley Cyrus on the mind today as I was mopping the floors. So much was written last week analyzing her performance on the VMAs. Most of it negative. Advice for Miley. Mocking and critiquing her performance.
I admit that I did not watch the VMAs and caught about 90 seconds of the performance on YouTube. There were plenty of still shots plastered on the internet the next morning for me to get the picture. Pun intended.
I understand much of the negative reaction – I don’t want my daughter influenced by that skewed picture of femininity. But that’s why we weren’t watching any of the VMAs in the first place.
That being said, while I don’t like the performance, I do understand it. And I have found a compassion for Miley Cyrus.
Miley is trying to figure out her identity.
What she is going through – on a life stage that is large and public – is the same thing all our kids will go through. It’s the same thing we are all going through every day.
It is the quest to define our Self. (see Why Do We Adopt an Identity)
Defining our sense of Self means determining what about us makes us significant and valuable. Who we are in relation to the world.
Whether that is parenting, financial status, or your golf game, we all have something on which we rest our sense of Self.
Think about this from Miley Cyrus’ circumstance – where do you go from Hannah Montana?
Not many of us have the opportunity to be known world-wide. Having throngs of people scream their approval of us everywhere we go.
That way Miley Cyrus’ reality for many years. That very likely became her source of identity. She received her affirmation – the answer to the question What do people think of me? – through her stardom.
For a preteen who is growing up in this reality, there is no sense that this source of affirmation will not last. No inkling that today’s cheers will turn into tomorrow’s yawns and questions of “Miley who?”
So now she is left a slave to sustaining the source of value that she has based her identity upon.
And she is left doing anything she can to try to keep the cheer going. Even when that means pandering to the lowest common element. Talent takes work. Pushing the boundaries and creating buzz can be done in an instant. As we saw on the VMAs.
If this is the part of the post where I’m supposed to write to Miley, then here it is – but also realize that I’m talking to myself and everyone else.
All of us fight this battle of identity. Seeing ways to create a sense of wholeness on our own, apart from God. So we all need this reminder.
A reminder of Jesus. A man who, before twitter, Facebook, and instagram was known by almost everyone in Israel. As he walked into Jerusalem on the last week of his life, everyone screamed their adoration for him. It would have been easy for him to chase that source of worth for his identity.
But Jesus sought his identity in the Father. Good thing, because not a week later, the crowds were not just yawning or asking “Jesus who?“, they were screaming for his blood. It was blood that he willingly shed for us so that we could have an identity rooted in him. In Christ.
What that means for Miley and the rest of us, our source of value as an image bearer of God, as the prize of Christ, is secure. It is the truth of who we are.
Not what we produce. Not what we control. Not what people think of us. Our value is secure in that we were worth dying for.
I pray for Miley to get the source of her identity straight. Then her performances will work themselves out.