Choices are something we are faced with every day in our lives. People choose to act a certain way either to conform to societies expectations and customs or stand out as an individual. According to John Stuart Mill, it is essential that we explore our individuality rather than immediately conforming to societies customs. Mill argues that although people should be trained by their elders when they are children in what is acceptable behavior and what is not, they should also have the freedom as they mature to interpret the world with their own ideas and opinions. But when does someone’s individuality become reason for judgment or isolation from the rest of society? Is there such a point where someone can be too much of an individual?
Take Miley Cyrus for instance. Miley encompasses both sides to Mill’s theory as she has acted as both a conformist and an individual throughout her life. As a young teenager, Miley conformed to the customs of being a regular child despite her fame. She followed the rules and kept her image clean as she chose to fit the mold of what people expected from her rather than doing what she wanted. She didn’t do drugs and she listened to what her advisors told her to do. Mill would argue that she was not using her complete human faculty, as she excercised no decision-making.
However, as Miley has matured it has become extremely evident to society that she is no longer conforming to societies customs and expectations. She has exercised her individuality just as Mill would like her to do. Miley routinely sports very skimpy outfits to award shows and parties many times just to spark controversy amongst the media. Miley chooses to do this because she has decided to act as an individual. In society, it is expected for celebrities to set the gold standard for how we are suppose to act. Celebrities are held to a different standard because they are portrayed in the spotlight constantly. However, just as Mill would have wanted, Miley acts how she wants rather than what society wants. She does not concern herself with “fitting in” to a social group or being “accepted” by others, she does what makes her happy and what makes her different from everyone around her.
Although Mill would enjoy Miley’s individualism and her desire to not conform, there is a possibility he would not agree because of the impact it has on the public. Mill believes that people’s actions should be free from criticism unless they cause a nuisance to other people. When Miley is seen doing drugs and wearing the clothes she does, millions of fans around the world believe that this behavior is acceptable. Parents now have to deal with explaining to their children that Miley is not an acceptable role model. For this, Mill would probably tell Miley to tone it down a bit.
Miley Cyrus is the perfect example of someone who exhibits Mill’s ideas of individuality and conformity. She has experienced both, and it has become evident to most that Miley prefers being an individual rather than a conformist. I guess Miley the individual told Miley the conformist her show was over.