April 1, 2008 — -- They're young, they're hot and have the world at their fingertips – but there's one thing they say they're not interested in.
The newest crop of teen celebrities – Disney's Miley Cyrus and boy band The Jonas Brothers – as well as slightly older stars such as Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima, are all toting the same accessory: their virginity.
In a September 2007 interview with Extra!, Cyrus, now 15, defended herself against rumors that she's pregnant, citing her vow to stay celibate until marriage.
"It's given me the street cred to say that would be impossible, because I'm living my life the way I believe is right and that is to stay pure," she said.
Lima, 26, told GQ magazine in April 2006 that she's saving herself for marriage, despite those who may raise their eyebrows at her sexy runway outfits and her nude photo shoots.
"Sex is for after marriage," she told GQ. "They [men] have to respect that this is my choice. If there's no respect, that means they don't want me."
And current teen heartthrobs, the Jonas brothers, aged 15 to 20, wear purity rings to signify their devotion to remaining virgins until they get hitched – and reminding them to resist the tempting hoards of teenage girls who show up wherever they go.
But celebrity insiders and sex experts told ABCNews.com that the branding of young celebrities as pure and innocent isn't exactly innovative and just how influential these teen role models may be to their younger fans is questionable.
"This is nothing new," said Joey Bartolomeo, a senior writer at celebrity magazine US Weekly. "We've seen stars in the past pledging their virginity – Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears back in the day – and so when we see Miley Cyrus and the Jonas brothers talk about it we just want them to actually stick to it."
While sexy and handsome certainly doesn't hurt when it comes to sales figures for celebrities – just look at once-pledged-virgin Britney Spears – those stars who take a more refined route also make big bank – capitalizing on parents who want their children admiring responsible celebrities.
"[Stars who pledge their virginity] help win over parents who see their kids getting bombarded with sexual imagery and lyrics," Barolomeo said. "Virginity certainly helps them get a bigger following."
Branding a young star is a key challenge for any publicist to the stars, and pure and innocent is often the best place to start, PR guru Lizzie Grubman said.
"Purity is always best," said Grubman, who added that she has no doubt managers and publicists are encouraging these young stars to proclaim their abstinence publicly. "To have a good girl or a good guy always works, and it's very, very rare that anyone comes out and talks about their lack of virginity."
"Whenever you have a star who is under 18 you usually sell their virtue — Britney did this, the Olsen twins did this and so did Hillary Duff," said S. Tia Brown, senior editor for InTouch Weekly. "It's to help sell their brand — parents are making the decision about what's being purchased and want to see it's a young girl or guy that can be a role model for their children."
Stars like Simpson and Cyrus may insist upon their purity but, like many things celebrities do and say, just how much of it is a marketing ploy is unclear.
"There have always been squeaky clean young images being sold to America to pacify the masses afraid that rebels and 'sluts' will corrupt the new generation," Michael Gusto, Village Voice gossip columnist, told ABCNEWS.com via e-mail. "Sometimes these images are truthful, other time they're based on hype alone."
And while paparazzi and reporters are always ready to ask these young stars about their sex lives – the details remain fuzzy. The stars say they're virgins, but what does that really mean?
"We all have different definitions about what sex is and what abstinence means," said New York-based sex expert Logan Levkoff. "Is sex just about vaginal intercourse, or does it include oral or anal sex?"
"The fact is that teenagers are finding ways to get around the idea of virginity, because for them it means only vaginal intercourse," Levkoff said.
Levkoff, who believes there is a big modesty movement as a result of the "hyper-sexualized world," said that while parents may be pleased their kids are looking up to celibate stars, they should think twice.
"Just because they say they won't do something doesn't mean they're not going to," he said. "Inevitably, people make all different decisions as they grow up, and they're entitled to do that."
"I think these teen stars need to be a little realistic," Levkoff added. "Their fan base probably knows that [holding hands and kissing] isn't the only thing they're doing."
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