Chances are, she hasn’t read the letters.
There are about 6,000 new “Dear Miley” letters sitting on the internet, with the prickly hope that they’ll go viral, and she won’t read a single one. She’s probably got a Mama that tells her nearly everyday not to listen to nobody. That’s a good Mama.
I don’t want to add to the pile of noise. I’m not going to write a letter to Miley Cyrus. I am not going to even pretend for a millisecond that I know the things she’s seen through that industry. I’m not going to preach. I’m not going to even open my mouth much more than this.
I’m just here to admit that I was wrong to say something in the first place. I’m sorry.
When the scandal happened, when she started traipsing down the stairs with her tongue lopsided from her mouth, I talked about it. I wrote a funny status. I got a hundred or so likes. I pulled in retweets. It felt like that moment on the black top when you were suddenly included for some funny, little thing you said. And people were cheering for you. And you felt like you were a part of something. And that’s fuel to any fire, when you feel like you belong in a conversation. But it’s gasoline all over your hands, baby, when you use the shortcomings of someone else to get you there.
And so I made a few jokes, and I read a few articles, and I talked about it several times, and then I wanted to take it all back. I wanted to erase it. Not because it’s graceless. Not because it falls under the category of bullying. But because it makes me a hypocrite, to try to sit here and act like I am some saint who never thought her body, too, was just an object. I’m just lucky my moments aren’t going down in history or becoming the talk of everyone’s lunch break. But I am really not that different from Miley.
She isn’t a natural disaster.
Not a hurricane that wrecked through a town. Not a global issue. She’s a girl. A girl who is fumbling to grow up and out of a skins of a wig-wearing popstar that the world learned to worship her for. And she had a bit of a train wreck moment. And so no, I’m not going to write a letter to Miley Cyrus. I’m not going to write a letter to my future daughter either. I’m not going to hold my daughter and thank God that she isn’t like Miley. I’m simply going to do the best I can to raise her, and I am going to understand and still support her when train wreck moments happen. As they often do.
I’m going to try to understand her empty moments. I’m going to listen to her when she’s torn between body and brains. I’m going to try to understand if she doesn’t want to be a role model. I’m going to understand when she tries to change herself for men, and when she tries to morph her body for others, and when she finds herself in situations that makes her feel much smaller than she really is… Not because I want these things for her, but because I know there is no stopping a girl from learning what she needs to learn about her worth in a world that doesn’t give her much to follow but worthlessness.
I’m going to understand if the world and culture slip in the backdoor and give her some ugly half-truth that her body is nothing more than a tool she can use for leverage. Because I’ve been there before. Maybe not on an awards show that gets broadcasted to millions but I saw a strange and familiar sense of emptiness in that moment when Miley flung her body around that crowd. An emptiness I know of because I am a woman. And I’ve known that empty feeling. And my friends have, too. And so have so many others who learned to use their body as a tool. Because the culture tells us repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly that we should.
It took me years to understand this body of mine.
I’m trying, still. But it used to be just Limbs & Legs & Leverage. And it was said to be no big deal to be abandoned in a bed with flannel sheets. And it was said to be “social norm” for a girl to grow up and be everything Rihanna sang about.
And really, what’s a girl to do in the moment when the whole world sings crudely but daily– with some kind of harmony– about her body & only her body? Women’s brains were never thick in those songs. Our dreams were never powerful in those songs. But yet our hips never lied & our junk was in the trunk & always we wanted to get dirty in those songs.
Enough of it would make any girl start to believe it after a while… that she is just a “the captain,” just expected to “ride it good.” Someone labeled as the “wild one” “saddled up” and “just begun.” Begun like a workday. Wrecked like a war zone.
I’m not saying she’s right. I’m not cheering for her in this moment. But she’s not a criminal. Not a tragedy that hurt millions. She’s just a girl. Just like me. Who probably forgot, like the rest of us, what a fragile, radiant thing she really is. Made to be valued & designed with much worth. Brewed & brewed & brewed to be so much more than a body stapled & tied with an image of beauty that only runs ankle-deep when the whole wide world should flood out– tsunami-style– over the worth & weight of her.
If Miley is anything like me, then she’s been a fragile creature all this time. And she came here looking for love.
I wish it could have stayed that way. I wish it could have stayed that way for all of us.