Who wears short shorts? Miley Cyrus does - and black leather boots, too.
The 16-year-old Disney star, who sold out Nassau Coliseum in 2007 and is in line to do the same for her November show here, took another step along the Britney Spears career track this weekend with a pole-dancing performance at the Teen Choice Awards that some say sent the wrong message to her tween-age fans.
Cyrus, who has been piping up about broadening her appeal, busted out the provocative get-up to sing her song "Party in the USA" for a segment of the teen awards fest taped Sunday and broadcast Monday night on Fox.
Halfway through the song, Cyrus climbed atop an ice cream cart and shimmied alongside a pole protruding from its top. But if you were surprised, offended or shocked by the move, you really shouldn't be, say Miley-watchers - this has been coming for some time.
"She already has this risque image, so it really wasn't much of a stretch," says Us magazine senior editor Ian Drew. "That's how Britney took off. She was the good girl gone bad, and it looks to be working for Miley as well."
Ah, Brits: during the TCAs, Spears joined Cyrus to accept an award - a trophy Cyrus was proud to hand over "because I'm a big fan of hers."
Fox declined to comment further earlier Monday on the appearance, other than to confirm it would be included in the broadcast.
A spokeswoman for Disney, which makes "Hannah Montana," said, "Disney Channel won't be commenting on that performance, although parents can rest assured that all content presented on the Disney Channel is age-appropriate for our audience - kids 6-14 - and consistent with what our brand values are."
A spokesman for Cyrus' label, Hollywood Records, would not comment.
She is filming an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel "The Last Song," which casts her as a rebellious teen. She appeared in a bustier on the August 2009 cover of Elle. And there were those 2008 Vanity Fair photos, where she was shot topless from behind by Annie Leibovitz.
While the transition to a more adult personage may work to her advantage careerwise, it's a problem for the younger fans who idolize her as "Hannah" - and they are mostly "younger" fans, says West Islip child psychologist Wendi Fischer. "She's sending this message that this is 'OK' to do, and I don't think it is OK to do," she said of Cyrus' sexualized performance. "Miley's only 16. Why is she rushing it?"
Cyrus won six surfboard-shaped trophies at the TCAs, two for "Hannah" on TV, two for the "Hannah" movie, music single for "The Climb" and summer song for "Before the Storm." The 11th annual TCAs were held at Universal Studios Hollywood's Gibson Amphitheatre.