16 and the life of the party
by Ashley Ballard
Lately, everyone seems to be up in arms about Miley Cyrus’s recent VMA performance. It was awkwardly sexually charged and outrageous, to say the least. But, how can we expect her to be a fantastic role model for our children when (1) she’s practically a child herself, and (2) she lives in an alternate reality than most everyone else?
Being a working professional as a child produces a very interesting dynamic among co-workers. Add into the mix the music business, and the sky is the limit for inappropriateness.
I was signed when I had just turned 13. It was amazing. All of a sudden, I went from awkward preteen to boss-lady. Everyone went out of his or her way to make me feel special, I got a bunch of my own money, and I had grown-ups doing anything and everything for me … and I liked it.
I was traveling without my parents most of the year. On average, I was home for about one week a month. Hotels became where I felt most at home, and the adults I was working alongside became my only “friends.”
They would meander through the boundaries of our relationship. One day, they would protect me like the child I was, and the very next, I was left exposed to fight my way to the top. They were fickle relationships that revolved around cash flow, which through the eyes of a child, felt like true love.
Because I was constantly surrounded by adults, people started treating me like one. I was served alcohol at every restaurant I went to, some of my associates would do drugs while I was there, and I was always expected to behave professionally. Much of my un-released album Get in the Booth was recorded after midnight, and although I didn’t really realize this at the time, many of the grown men I worked with were, in fact, flirting with me.
Not to say they were child molesters, but working alongside them seemed to form confusions of what was and wasn’t appropriate. Sex sells, and I was learning what that meant and how to apply it to further my career. It didn’t hurt that being surrounded by adults made me feel like I was one, myself.
I remember being 14 or 15 and taking a class with a talented female dancer to make me “sexier.” She would teach me how to walk and caress my body while I danced. In case you don’t know how to do this sexily, it’s not timidly like I felt so inclined to do it, but you’re to aggressively grab body parts and claw your hands up your body. It was a good lesson.
I was a good girl. I followed the rules, I got straight A’s, and I was very reserved. But, let’s face facts: Partying is fun, and when it’s easy and free, it’s easy and free.
As I got older, I started going to clubs. I was let in at 16 and once I was there, everyone wanted to hang with me. It was like I was too young to legally be there, so I must be important. I wasn’t even famous! But, older women would want to dance with me and the older men would send their female friends to talk to me. The attention was addicting, until it became scary.
It’s so difficult being in a position of power at a young age. Children are not supposed to do whatever they want. It’s a surprisingly empty and lonely feeling.
I have parents ask me all the time how to get their children in showbiz. I let them know the steps to be polite, but inside I’m screaming, “Don’t do it!” I’m certainly not saying that it can’t work out great, but there are so many things riding against trying to raise a responsible adult in this business.
There is a warped sense of reality that occurs when everyone around you is kissing your butt. It makes you feel like everyone loves you until you do something they don’t want, you realize it’s not love, and you feel utterly alone.
I think a lot of parents assume that because people are dealing with a child, they will treat them as such, but that’s not the case. It’s a cold, hard business and the stakes are the same no matter the age of the participant.
So, how about we give Miley a break? She’s in a different world than most girls her age and she’s only trying to break through the constant bombardment of media fed to us all on the daily. She just likes to party. She can’t stop! She won’t stop! So avert your eyes if it offends you, and move on.Tags: Ashley Ballard, Child star, Hollywood, MIley Cyrus, Music business