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Culture > Entertainment


The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, I wanted to take a quick deep dive into Miley Cyrus’ portrayal in the media. I’m here to make the case that despite the negative and often controversial media coverage, she is a good role model.

While progress has been made in recent years, women are still often expected to be polite and “nice.” Joanna Wolfe, a teaching professor of English in Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences found that “when a woman complains or stands up for herself, she’s more likely to be negatively viewed than her male peers.” The findings of this study in conjunction with the media portrayal of Cyrus, prove just how powerful this societal expectation is. 

Her time as a Disney Channel star in Hannah Montana rocketed her to fame as a picture-perfect role model for young girls with her spunky, yet nice and inoffensive personality. As Cyrus broke away from this image she faced harsh criticism from the media for smoking weed, swearing, and twerking, while parents lamented the loss of a good role model for their children. The Daily Mail found that “more than three-quarters of 2,287 Britons” would not want their children to see “skin-baring” Cyrus as a role model.

First off, the idea that Cyrus “owes” it to anyone to act or behave in a certain manner is an unfair expectation to hold against her. 

Second, while Cyrus’s actions may not place her as the best role model for young children, it’s not like other famous celebrities don’t also swear or smoke. In fact, “public hedonism”  for male “rock and roll artists like Mick Jagger and Pete Doherty is romanticized and ‘comes with the job.” Cyrus’ actions as an adult (swearing, twerking, smoking, and showing skin) are really no different than a “majority of college students in America” and truly no different than the actions of many male rock and roll artists. Simply put, the flaws society and the media find in Cyrus are just those that run counter to her image as “nice.”

With this info in mind, one would find Cyrus makes a fine role model. She’s comfortable with her sexuality, a philanthropist, confident in herself, unafraid to face down her haters, and openly speaks her mind. Role models should not be expected to be perfect 24/7, and she continually demonstrates that she’s more than willing to acknowledge when she has made a mistake.

Cyrus illustrates the different expectations between men and women where respectable female role models are those who are inoffensive and fit into the submissive women stereotype. By breaking these expectations, Cyrus is labeled a bad role model when in reality this attribute is what makes her an even better one. She is unafraid to be herself, speak her mind, recognizes when she messes up, and continually gives back. What better attributes can a role model have than those?

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Jessica Chan

UC Berkeley '25

Jessica is a first year at UC Berkeley pursuing a major in Environmental Science and a minor in Journalism. Outside of class you'll probably find her listening to Taylor Swift, going to concerts, or dragging her friends to a museum.