Another day, another wholesome Disney girl stars in a sexy photo scandal. After “Cheetah Girl” Adrienne Bailon’s laptop was stolen from her luggage cart at JFK International Airport, photos have hit the Web of the 25-year-old posing in a bra and no panties. In one of the sepia-tone snapshots, she gingerly bends over; in the other, she faces the camera head-on with a simple, naked smirk. As these things go, the photos are actually kind of sweet, and she says they were meant as an anniversary present for her boyfriend, Robert Kardashian.
It isn’t as though she hit the town pantyless and then indelicately got in and out of cars in front of crowds of flash-happy paparazzi. These are private photos that were stolen. Still, the tabloids are having a field day, and Bailon diplomatically issued an apology by press release: “Adrienne is deeply sorry for any pain this may have caused to her fans.” Surely many young girls look to her as a role model, and it might be shocking and confusing for them to stumble across these shots. (I imagine it being something akin to my observing at age 5 during a Disneyland trip that there was a person inside Minnie Mouse.) But — dude! — she is twenty-effin-five.
Forget the misnomer “Cheetah Girls”: She is not a little girl, and shouldn’t be expected to act like one at all times offstage. Are we at all surprised at a red-blooded young woman (particularly one who is so often on the road) making a private digital offering to her boyfriend? For us young’uns, technology provides a familiar channel for all different types of intimacy (and intimate performance). Most are lucky enough to be unknown and escape the interest of TMZ.
It’s easy to look at this story and sigh, Oh, those dysfunctional Disney starlets. I know, I know: We’ve all seen the leaked slumber party photos of “Hannah Montana’s” Miley Cyrus frolicking around in her knickers and seductively sucking on a candy with a female friend, as well as that stark-naked shot of “High School Musical’s” Vanessa Hudgens. But in this case, I dare say it has less to do with the weight of those oversize mouse ears, exploitative stage parents and poor management decisions, and far more to do with being a young woman, who happens to be famous, in our digital, sexed-up age.