An Open Letter to Destiny Hope…

Hey girl. Sup? How’s the performance hangover treating you? You were on something, right?

I’ll cut the crap, let’s get down to business like you got down on Robin Thicke last night (what did Paula Patton think of that, by the way?). Being 20 is rough. Like the pop princess Britney Spears once said, “you’re not a girl, not yet a woman,” and you’re just trying to find yourself. I’m four years out of that phase, and I couldn’t be happier.

When you’re 20 you’re supposed to do stupid things. You’re supposed to pull all nighters and pay for it the next morning. You’re supposed to spend all your money on stupid things and sell your textbooks back in order to buy groceries (something I witnessed on a recruit trip, not something I did myself). You’re supposed to experiment, knowing that the biggest consequence if you play your cards right are a few embarrassing photos on Facebook that you make your friends take down within 10 minutes of them going live (those jerks).

You’ve got it a little differently than the rest of us. You’re famous. You have cameras in your face all the time. And they can’t wait for you to really screw it up. I won’t lie, I awaited last night’s performance hoping for it to be a train wreck, and damn, you really pulled through on that one.

Because you have everyone watching you, it doesn’t mean you can say, “Screw it, I’m just going to be crazy!” It means you have to be careful. I remember tons of little girls looking up to you as Hannah Montana, and they’re probably still looking up to you as a role model. I know for a fact my niece will not be seeing what you did last night, because our family does not want her even jokingly imitating what you did. You’re only twice her age.

I get it, you want to show the world you’re different. I went through that when I was 16 and started shopping at Pac Sun, refusing to wear anything that wasn’t Roxy/Element/etc and making jewelery out of safety pins. You were probably on tour when you were 16 and didn’t have a chance to go shopping at Pac Sun and show the world who you really were.

You know what else I did when I was 16? I would say things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, I’m going to continue wearing these jeans that haven’t been washed all summer even if someone is offended by it” and “I don’t have to listen to you, I’m an adult.” When I look back at those times, I realize those moments are when I was most childish.

So here’s a little bit of advice. A little bit of “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.”

Put Your Tongue in Your Mouth
Ok, I didn’t have this problem at your age. But I do have a face that’s been deemed my “photo face.” It’s a goofy half smile that I do when I’m not sure what else to do in a picture. It’s super unflattering. I’ve grown to hate most photos in which I’m doing it. Kind of like you sticking that Gene Simmons tongue out an alarming amount of times. No but really, honey, I wasn’t bothered by it the first time you did it when you walked out of the bear, but then you did it at least 20 more times before you started “singing.” Less is more.

Sexy Can Go Trashy Real Quick
When I was 20, I bought pleather pants. Yes, pleather pants from Rue 21 (because that was one of the few “fashionable” stores available in my small college town). I wore them once with a cute top to my friend’s birthday party. I thought I tooooootally rocked the look. And then a close friend at the end of the night told me they didn’t look good on me. At first, I chalked it up to him being jealous, but he was right. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got a slammin’ bod that could probably pull off the pleather pants. In fact, I kinda wish you would wear pants more often. A leotard is called for on occassion, as well as some booty shorts, but let’s make sure they fit properly (particularly if you’re going to be “twerking”) and let’s not do it every damn day? We’re all used to it now, and the only other thing that will shock us at this point is if you’re straight up naked…which you almost were last night.

Respect Yourself
For me at age 20, I had about zero respect for my own body in that I always thought I was fat, constantly worked out, and didn’t eat a lot. It was a great way to lose weight, and a great way for doctors to tell me I had to gain it back so I wouldn’t get stress fractures. You know what it wasn’t great for? Getting a boyfriend. Guys only bothered to get to know me because I was skinny, and I thought I had to maintain that image in order to get them to like me. That’s no way to be. Just like how you, little missy, do NOT have to be vulgar in order to show you’re different/tough/mature, or to get “respect.” In fact, the way you acted with that foam finger last night was pretty much at the same maturity level as a bunch of adolescents sitting around making fart jokes. And come on, grinding up on a married man? I think you broke the heart of every feminist out there. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Thicke wasn’t exactly pushing you away and deserves some of the blame. But with how young you look and how much older he is…you made us all really uncomfortable. I mean, your dad didn’t even address it on Twitter. He decided to focus on Syria. He chose Syria over you.

Admit When You’re Wrong
Us millennials have a reputation for placing the blame on others when we make a mistake. I know I used to make every excuse in the book for why I handed in homework late in high school. I was a pretty busy kid, but not THAT busy. Now that I’m an adult with a real job, when I screw up, I own up to it, and I find a way to make it right. I don’t pull a Don Draper and say things like, “No, you do like this idea, you just don’t know it yet.” I don’t blame someone else for something where I clearly dropped the ball. And I don’t tweet out quotes from Rob Sheffield’s review of the VMAs to say, “Hey look, everyone loved what I did.” I’m sorry, but most people did not like what you did. The reason your performance was the most tweeted about thing was because people couldn’t believe you were being so…gross. I personally didn’t find the performance “shocking,” I just found it disgusting. Women have come a long way from the image you portrayed last night, and it made me sad to think that the next generation could spend their time gyrating on strangers rather than finding a way to cure cancer. Can you at least give a quick, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”? You did start an uproar, and I wouldn’t call it good press, and ya gotta address it some time.

Lay Off the Drugs
I can’t speak from first-hand experience on this one, but as a child who was “born in the wrong era,” who would give any amount of money to see The Doors, The Beatles or Jimi Hendrix in their prime, I can say that drugs really don’t help. I can’t even suggest that you have a responsible amount of alcohol, because you’re not 21. But look at the examples of the past. Most of these guys either lost their money, ended up looking haggard as hell before they were 50 (sup Keith Richards?) or died at 27. Do you really only want seven more years to say what you feel you need to say? Calm down. Drink responsibly when you legally can in a few months, and don’t smoke pot or cigarettes because they’re gross.

What I’m trying to say is, stop acting like the girl who shows up to the party completely intoxicated before anyone else has started drinking. We don’t want to have to worry about you and check your pulse and make sure you’re laying down on your side. We don’t want to make sure you don’t get too close to the fire pit or have to constantly get you in a chair that has a back rather than that stool you keep gravitating toward. You’re 20 years old. You have soooo much potential. And you have an enormous audience before you. Don’t waste this moment by trying to be “urban” and offending everyone in your tracks. Shock acts have very little shelf life, and we rarely have time for them anymore. Focus more on doing stuff like this:

And stop being “that girl.”

A girl who’s four years older than you, and really doesn’t want to see you under a 5150 hold when you’ve got a mother that’s just like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls


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