Should 'Hannah Montana' Be Sexy?

"I think the danger is a young girl who looks up to Miley, sees the picture and thinks how sexy she looks and [how] beautiful she wants to be," she said. "The next things you know, she and her girlfriend have their photos on YouTube."

The "dangerous" message young girls draw from these types of images is "I need to take my clothes off to be loved," Goldman said.

Peter Kanaris, a New York psychologist and sex therapist, agrees that these images contribute to the sexualization of young girls.

"The message to young girls is your value is as a sex object, and you need to play that up in your appearance and put that self out into the world," he said.

Some are not emotionally or developmentally ready for the world's response to that sexuality.

Sex Sells

The media "amplifies" the message that girls need to be sexy, according to Kanaris. "Sex sells and it's at the forefront of so many things, commercially and in entertainment."

Kanaris wonders if Cyrus's parents, themselves, buy into their daughter's sexed-up image, like so many other parents who see their children as "assets."

"The parents recognize the child has what it takes — whether selling sex for a girl or sports for a guy," he said. " We start them earlier and earlier, not because it's good for the child, but we found a product and want to shape them to make the product work."

With all the debate on sexuality, there has been little research on the effect of media images on pre-teens. But, says developmental psychologist Deborah Tolman, young girls sorely need more Hannah Montanas — at least the G-rated version.

"I was really distressed when I heard the news," said Tolman, a visiting professor of public health at Hunter College.

"In an age when there are so few role models — where the girl is cool and fun and popular and not getting that way by being sexy — taking that away can't be a good thing. We need to see more alternatives."

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