Miley Cyrus has joined the #FreeTheNipple campaign in true Miley fashion — completely controversial.
Cyrus’ new fervor for the movement was spurred by the deletion of a black and white topless photo she posted with the caption, “Some lame a** def gonna [flag] that but f*** it. #practicewhatupreach #FreeTheNipple # FreedatSh—.”
So in what she likely considers an act of solidarity with the likes of Chelsea Handler (who waged the topless war against Instagram’s strict no-nudity policy), Cyrus decided to make her own statement.
And, well, it’s bizarre. More than bizarre, even… it’s disturbing.
The “Wrecking Ball” singer replaced the original black and white topless photo with a string of photos featuring women’s topless bodies with Cyrus’ head superimposed on them.
Only, it isn’t the face of Cyrus now staring back at you from above the round, bare breasts of women — it’s Cyrus as a child.
The resulting images are jarring, to say the least. While diehard fans back Cyrus’ play and applaud her for standing up against censorship, many people (us included) are, quite frankly, kind of appalled.
Some detractors are even going so far as to call the images “child porn.”
Cyrus’ intended statement, we imagine, is that nipples should be de-sexualized. That if men can show them, women should be able to, too.
She was likely trying to connect the dots between the freedom inherent in childhood to run around nude in total normalcy to the adult standard of keeping breasts covered in public.
But, let’s be real, the breasts of an adult woman are — at least a little — sexual, are they not?
Context seems to be the determining factor. Are nipples sexual in the context of a woman breastfeeding her child? No. In the context of art? No (although Cyrus might argue what she has created is art).
Aren’t we kidding ourselves, though, if we say nipples are never sexual? In the context of many of the photos Cyrus posts they certainly seem sexual, particularly when accompanied by a writhing tongue, a suggestive caption or a provocatively placed hand.
Regardless, the fight to de-sexualize the nipple loses much of its traction when you pull a stunt like Cyrus’.
“The attempt to de-sexualize the female nipple and create equality backfires when you superimpose a child’s face on a fully developed woman’s naked or topless body,” human behavior expert Patrick Wanis PhD told FOX411. “It actually sexualizes the innocent child.”
Cyrus obviously is no stranger to controversy — the pop star’s favorite pastime could very well be saying and doing inflammatory things. And this isn’t the first time she has superimposed her childhood face onto an adult body, either.
This time, though, Cyrus may just have exceeded the shock factor (in the worst kind of way) the world has come to expect from the attention-loving celeb.
So, sorry Miles… you can’t write this one off to your kooky brand of irreverence. The sexualization of a child, intended or otherwise, crosses a line and merits a genuine mea culpa.