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The Disney Channel Girlies Are Thriving

The Disney Channel Girlies Are Thriving

On behalf of millennials everywhere, I hereby declare Aug. 25 a national holiday. Both Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez are releasing new music that day, and watching the Disney Channel alums enter new eras at the same time is worth commemorating. The pop stars serendipitously announced their singles on Aug. 17 within mere hours of one other: Gomez’s “Single Soon” will tide fans over before she eventually drops her fourth studio album, while Cyrus’s “Used to Be Young” will be accompanied by another Backyard Sessions special and an in-depth interview about her career and life.

Rather than pitting them against one another, many fans, myself included, are choosing to root for both singers and reflect on all that led them to this point. Cyrus and Gomez came up in the golden age of Disney Channel — a time when “sweet niblets” was everyday slang and The Tipton was far more covetable than any Ritz-Carlton hotel. Their leading roles on “Hannah Montana” and “Wizards of Waverly Place” secured their status as bona fide Disney Channel darlings in the 2000s.

In the years that followed, both former child stars experienced their fair share of setbacks. Cyrus was ridiculed for her displays of sexuality. She dealt with depression, lost her Malibu home in a fire, and divorced Liam Hemsworth after an off-and-off relationship spanning 10 years. Gomez endured a public battle with lupus and underwent a kidney transplant; struggled with bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and psychosis; and can’t seem to escape fodder about her previous relationship with Justin Bieber.

With the world expecting them to fail, it would’ve been understandable for the stars to step away from the spotlight entirely, but they forged on.

As someone who looked up to Miley Stewart and Alex Russo for much of her adolescence, seeing them crush it heals my inner child.

Now in their 30s, Cyrus and Gomez aren’t just surviving after going through the wringer; they’re thriving. Cyrus’s “Endless Summer Vacation” album was a rousing success, with “Flowers” becoming the fastest song to reach a billion streams in Spotify history. Meanwhile, Gomez’s Rare Beauty is booming, and “Only Murders in the Building” is airing its third season after receiving numerous Emmy nominations. As someone who looked up to Miley Stewart and Alex Russo for much of her adolescence, seeing them crush it heals my inner child.

I’d be remiss to not mention the other Disney Channel alums who are also at the top of their game this year. Demi Lovato, who completes the so-called Disney Trinity alongside Cyrus and Gomez, will soon release her album “Revamped,” featuring rerecorded rock versions of their biggest hits. The Jonas Brothers dropped “The Album” in May and just embarked on a new tour across North America. And Dove Cameron is close to releasing her debut solo album.

That’s not to say that everyone has been as lucky. For all these success stories, there are more who were burned by child stardom and still grapple with the effects of growing up under a microscope. In a way, that makes it all the more remarkable to see Cyrus and Gomez still hitting peaks in their careers to this day.

On Aug. 18, Cyrus and Gomez acknowledged their concurrent music releases by playfully referencing their onscreen feud as Hannah Montana and Mikayla Skeech. Gomez shared a clip from the sitcom on Instagram Stories, writing, “@milevevrus and I both have a SINGLE SOON and we are releasing on the same day. We have been friends since we USED TO BE YOUNG. Excited for August 25th!!!” Cyrus simultaneously posted the same video, writing, “@selenagomez and I are both dropping our new SINGLEs SOON. I SAY WE #USEDTOBEYOUNG.” Part of me can’t help but suspect they’re hinting at a future collaboration. If there’s anything Disney Channel taught me as a kid, it’s to dream big.


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