In the celebrity universe, child stars are often like shooting stars. They light up in a blaze of glory, only to disappear quickly back into the darkness of obscurity, perhaps reoccurring once every ten years on a VH1 Where Are They Now?
However, sometimes a child star sticks around long enough to make it through puberty. Growing up in the spotlight, these transitions can be painful, especially for girls.
The appeal of a female child star is her cuteness: rosy cheeks, bright smile, and a precocious attitude. However, the appeal of an adult female star is the stark opposite: It's all about sex, baby. Women in the entertainment world are expected to rake in the dough by showing off their . . . assets. And transitioning from one side of this double-edged sword to the other is not always a graceful process.
Britney got her start as an adorable singing and dancing 11 year old on The Mickey Mouse Club. However, a mere five years later, Ms. Spears found herself one of the world's most popular sex symbols . . . at the tender (and illegal) age of 16.
As expected, the transition was riddled with contradictions. Her photo on a 1999 Rolling Stone cover caused much controversy for its childlike sex appeal. Furthermore, Britney publicly claimed she would remain a virgin until marriage, much to the disbelief of the world (while dating Justin Timberlake? Good luck, honey.).
It didn't take her long to shed her Mickey Mouse ways and admit to the world that she was really "not that innocent."
Lohan also had her first big debut at age 11, starring in the popular Parent Trap. Fans loved her cute red hair and freckles. Her career took off as she starred in Disney movies to an adoring pre-teen audience.
However, when Lindsay (ahem) blossomed in her hot role in the hit movie Mean Girls, she started attracting fans of a different kind. She took the NYC/LA club world by storm, receiving a slew of underage drinking, DUI, and drug charges.
In her struggle to appeal to the grownup world of Hollywood, Lindsay seems to have forgotten that it was more than just her cute red hair that made her a star; she is also really talented. Hopefully, she will remember that and can complete the transition from child star to respected actress.
Miley, star of the incredibly popular Hannah Montana show, is now at the point of transition. At the age of 15, she is the darling of pre-teen Disney channel fans, but is also entering the dangerous world of pop music.
Dangerous how? Record executives want to sell lots of albums. What sells albums? Sex.
Miley has already created controversy with her recent Vanity Fair photo shoot, where she is draped in a bed sheet. Though she considered it an artistic shoot and regrets any sexual connotations, fans can't help but wonder if it is her first step down the dark path.
Hopefully Miley can learn from the mistakes of Britney and Lindsay and learn how to transition from a cute child star to a mature celebrity with as much grace as possible in the entertainment world.