They both love to shock people. They both love making headlines for provocative images. The both love nipples and nudity. They’re both unapologetic for their controversial antics. It should come as no surprise then that Terry Richardson and Miley Cyrus have teamed up again to supply the Internet with the latest installment of incredibly risqué, very NSFW, nearly pornographic, photos. But, for some reason, it is surprising me. Despite their mutual admiration for pushing social boundaries, I can’t help but feel stunned and slightly sickened by their most recent photoshoot for CANDY Magazine.
It’s not the gratuitous nudity that offends me. I’m not fazed by the shots of Miley licking her armpit hair or the ones of her tongue between her fingers. The images where she has a massive strap-on attached to her waist definitely pushed the limits, but even still – that’s not what bothers me.
Now, full disclosure, I’m a Miley defender! I even wrote an article, earlier this year declaring that she’s a positive role model for young girls. She’s quirky and honest. She stands for body confidence and embracing individuality, no matter how weird people think you are. She’s even an activist and philanthropist, specifically dedicated to helping the LGBT community and homeless youth.
What’s really eating away at me is the fact that even I, the one who has found good in all that she does, simply can’t defend her decision to pose for Richardson. Even if you aren’t familiar with Terry Richardson’s name, specifically, you’re probably familiar with his images. His infamous highly-sexualized Polaroid-style pics have flooded the covers of almost every major fashion and lifestyle magazines in the world over the last few decades. From Beyonce to Madonna, Cameron Diaz to Nicole Kidman, Woody Allen, James Franco and everyone in between, I’d say the majority of Hollywood has posed for Richardson at one time or another.
So, why then am I so upset by Miley’s latest spread? (No pun intended.) Well, because as a strong, outspoken, feminist and activist who rarely takes crap from anyone, I am surprised that she would readily work with such a notorious creep. Yes, Terry Richardson is known to be a predatory, pushy, skeezy and borderline abusive photographer, who has been accused by numerous different women of sexually inappropriate behavior.
The controversial photog has been under fire many times, including in 2010 after a young model came forward and revealed her sexually exploitive experience working with “Uncle Terry;” as he likes to be called by the girls he shoots. Shudder. After the initial allegation, many other models, both unknown and well known, came forward claiming they had similarly disgusting experiences with him. Many claimed that he threatens to hold back their career if they don’t engage in sexual acts with him.
Since then, numerous publications have seized their professional relationships with Terry, including American Vogue, who actually released a statement claiming that they have no plans to work with him in the future. But despite being blacklisted by the world’s leading fashion magazine and being outed by multiple women in the industry, Richardson still gets work – and a lot of it. Amazingly, people still want to work with a guy who allegedly bullies young women into getting naked and touching him inappropriately. But for some reason, the rest of the industry standing by him doesn’t surprise me as much as Miley’s continued relationship with him does.
By working with him after everything that’s come forward, Miley is supporting him. She’s standing by him and his reputation and inadvertently telling the world she’s OK with it. The fact that the woman who claims to advocate for youth, women’s rights and equality, is also advocating for a man who has reportedly abused his power over young, vulnerable ladies, is just not sitting right with me.
I truly believed Miley was better, stronger and more intelligent than that. I’m still racking my brain to try and find a legitimate excuse for why she is still working with an alleged sexual predator, but I’m having a hard time coming up with something. Open to suggestions. Got anything?