Miley Cyrus, the Disney teen who shot to fame in her Hannah Montana television show, celebrated her 18th birthday this week whilst riding a wave of controversy.
Dressed in a black leather bikini top and trousers Miley, who was recently revealed as one of Hollywood’s top earners, partied with friends at an LA nightclub to celebrate her big one-eight.
It is the latest chapter in her makeover from teen star to adult performer – just last month the video to her single Who Owns My Heart showed her writhing around on a bed dressed in black lingerie.
And not everyone is keen to see America’s sweetheart all grown up. Family groups across have expressed outrage at Miley’s new image.
Many have complained that she is setting a bad example for the impressionable young fans who have followed her career from the start.
“Up until very recently, Miley Cyrus was considered a family-friendly performer, so this sudden shift really caught our attention,” says Melissa Henson, spokeswoman for conservative pressure group Parents Television Council, who have criticised Miley in the American media.
“She had the opportunity not to trade on her sexuality in an age when girls are bombarded with messages that they have little value beyond their sexiness.”
Miley also attracted wagging fingers when celebrity website TMZ published photographs of her in a Madrid nightclub drinking from a bottle of beer, despite Spanish authorities insisting that drinking alcohol from the age of 16 onwards is perfectly legal there.
But her army of supporters have labelled the criticism as unfair, claiming she has to shake off the Mickey Mouse image if she wants her career to progress.
“Miley’s aim is to dive in to a film career and tackle tough roles in gritty dramas,” MTV presenter Julie Alexandria told USA Today. “You can’t really do that if people see you as Hannah.
“She’s just growing up and figuring out who she is as a woman.”