Monday, September 14, 2009

An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

“The struggles I'm facing.
The chances I'm taking.
Sometimes might knock me down but
No I'm not breaking.” (Miley Cyrus Song)

September 14, 2009

Dear Miley:

My name is Molly Barker. I am the founder of Girls on the Run International and also the mother to a ten-year old girl. You’ve become such a part of our life; I thought I might make the relationship official. You know—think of you as the person you are rather than the pop star icon, Disney mogul and multi-millionaire the world typically sees. I mean, after all, I hear your voice the moment my daughter awakens. So come on in, pull up a chair and take a seat. I’m a huge fan and oddly enough, trying to get past all that fame “stuff.”

We’ve listened to you for years, but as of late your music has taken front and center in our morning ritual. Your voice, like mist on a crisp fall morning, floats from beneath my daughter’s bedroom door. She sings along. Her slippers like broom bristles drift across her dusty floor. The boy of her dreams holding her, they dance. He is special, this one--you know--the one in math class who sits three rows up and two rows over?

You are just sixteen. I can’t imagine what your life is like, everyone wanting a piece of you. The agents, the paparazzi, the media--navigating the waters between childhood and growing up are hard enough, but to have the entire world watching, the entire world judging, you must be a very brave and self-assured young woman.

I remember being sixteen, wanting to grow up so fast, the anger and frustration of it all. Sometimes it hurt so much I would scream, shout and want to run away. At sixteen, there is so much to feel; the joy of first love, the wished for first kiss and the sorrow of first loss. It was all just so MUCH, at sixteen, somewhere between wanting desperately to be grown-up and wishing for the simplicity of youth.

My daughter dances while you sing. She is poised there on the edge of adolescence and you in the middle of it. She talks about you like you are family, nonchalantly mentions the latest news of your life as if you had told her yourself. You are often the topic in carpool, her girlfriends chatter away. Their descriptions of you are positive, respectful and genuine.

As they talk, I marvel at how you have stayed the course in spite of the crazy world in which you live. How you stand tall amidst the”should and ought to” people telling you how to dress, act and be something and someone you are not. I admire how you have stayed true to yourself, your ideals and your beliefs.

But I also know that these decisions to honor, embrace and celebrate who you are don’t come about without a lot of fear, anger and self-doubt. Not because I know you…but because I was sixteen once.

And so, the mother in me wants to rise up and cry out to you. Please, PLEASE don’t cave in. For the sake of my daughter and the millions more who eat, drink and breathe you, please, PLEASE, stay true to the role model you have become. There are millions and millions of girls watching, listening and observing your every move. Your power is infinite in the influence you have on so many. Stay strong, stay real, stay Miley.

But the girl in me--the woman in me--the founder of Girls on the Run knows that you will have to realize your power in your own time and in your own language and that part of growing up to become a strong, healthy woman means learning from your mistakes, missteps and miscalculations. Often times this means taking risks, stepping out and testing the waters! I remember being sixteen and how difficult it was, in my simple, un-famous life, trying to be strong, stand up and remain alive, real and myself while exploring the unchartered waters of boys, adulthood and my future.

Just know that in those darkest moments, those most vulnerable moments, those moments when it’s hard to breathe and the next right step is difficult to see, I encourage you, as I encourage my own daughter and all the girls in Girls on the Run, to explore, evolve and question your way to adulthood; to go your way, in your own time and at your own pace and know that the strength you will find, will be your own.

Keep pushin’ on.

Molly B.

What element of YOU, did you hide as a child/teenager that has re-revealed itself in your adulthood. Let me know at

1 comment:

  1. Nice letter - luckily, my girls are still too little to be heavily influenced by pop culture, but I know those days are coming. Hopefully, Miley will have the strength of character not to do a "Lindsay Lohan" and keep her rebellion/testing the waters to normal teenage proportions. I, too, remember adolescence and it is a HARD TIME! And even harder, I'm sure, with all the exposure and raw adulation coming at her.

    Our girls need all the support they can get - from their families and communities especially - to help them make good choices like, or in some cases, unlike, their celebrity role models. This is one of the reasons that I am excited to become involved in Girls on the Run. I want to be a part of helping girls - my own and others - find the inner strength to stay true to their values and grow into courageous, powerful young women.