Miley’s “Candy” Photoshoot Stirs Frenzy and Outrage

Miley’s recent photo-shoot with Terry Richardson for Candy Magazine received negative feedback from mainstream audiences who were quick to judge the provocative images. When taken at face value, the undeniably promiscuous images are shocking and offensive. Some of the images feature a nude Miley smoking a cigar, licking her armpit hair, and sucking an enormous black dildo. People reacted by calling her a “slut” and an “attention whore,” believing the images to be a display of sexual objectification. Interestingly, while the public views this shoot as offensive, Miley considers it art. When is nudity considered art and when is nudity considered crime? The difference lies it its intent. Lets’ look at stripping, for example, or modeling for Playboy Magazine. This is seen as shameful because its sole intent is to stimulate sexual arousal, and this can sometimes seem unattractive and unappealing, rather than beautiful. Modeling nude for paintings or photography, or agreeing to nude scenes within a film, on the other hand, is more socially accepted. Both modeling and stripping involve removing clothes for money, performance that does not involve intimate contact, and an acknowledgment of potential sexual arousal. In spite of that, modeling is elevated on the fact that it is in the pursuit of art rather than sexual stimulation. Arousal may or may not occur throughout the process, but this does not matter. Artistic pursuit can be for anything the artist wants it to be. The intention of behind Miley’s Candy Magazine photo-shoot was somewhat equivocal. Yes, the licentious nature of the images were rather discomforting, but perhaps we should consider Miley’s motivations behind the piece. Audiences reduced the images to nothing more than her naked body for attention, but these images could arguably be her way of asserting her political views and sending a message for a social cause. In several of her images, Miley challenges society’s conception about sexuality as a woman. The photo where she licks her armpit hair demonstrates that a woman does not need to fit the hairless standard that society expects. The image where she stands nude, holding a “pussy” cat in front her face, could be a metaphor exposing the fact that women are only seen as sex objects to men. In the photos where she smokes a cigar and sports lumberjack attire, she is challenging the gender roles society has fashioned and “playing men at their own game—as an unapologetic woman” says journalist Ben Turner. Miley flaunts more woman empowering attire, such as a leotard that reads “my pussy, my choice” and “woman marines”. In the most controversial picture, where Miley licks a large and black strap-on dildo, she is conceivably mocking male sexuality by saying, “look at me, I can suck my own dick.” This photo-shoot is a work of art because although promiscuity is involved and sexual arousal may be provoked, the principle intention is to challenge societies conception of sexuality for men and women. Audiences claim that these images objectify women, yet ironically, the images actually challenge that very issue. The discomfort that is evoked by these radical images is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, their alarming nature is immensely effective in brining attention to these relevant issues, because they cause people to stop and think.

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