Miley Cyrus is reflecting on her turbulent career in the spotlight.
Miley, now 30, rose to fame after starring in Disney Channel original series Hannah Montana from the ages of 13 to 18. Her real-life dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, also starred in the show as her onscreen father.
As you’re probably aware, Hannah Montana was a global success, and Miley consequently became one of the biggest Disney stars.
But sadly, this worldwide fame came with its downsides. Like several other Disney stars, Miley faced heaps of pressure to maintain a squeaky-clean public image, and she was heavily scrutinized whenever she did happen to slip up (by the public's standards).
In 2010, for example, TMZ leaked a now-infamous video of Miley smoking a bong filled with salvia with some of her friends. The footage quickly went viral and got Miley tons of criticism from outraged fans and parents.
As was expected at the time, Miley wound up apologizing for the video, telling Marie Claire, “I’m not perfect ... I made a mistake ... I'm disappointed in myself for disappointing my fans.”
Then, when asked about the difference between herself and the many other adolescents engaging in typical teen behavior, Miley said, “But they're not Miley Cyrus. They're not role models. So for me it was a bad decision because of my fans and because of what I stand for.”
Each of these incidents caused a huge uproar across the internet and led to Miley being harshly judged and criticized by media outlets and fans — not just for her actions but also for her physical image.
In 2020, Miley revealed that she was left unable to wear shorts or skirts in public after some viewers of her VMAs performance body-shamed her by circulating memes that compared her to a turkey.
“I basically went through two or three years where I wouldn't wear shorts,” she said on Instagram Live. “I stopped wearing skirts onstage.”
“All this shit because after the VMAs, where I had on my cute little nude bodysuit, everyone started comparing me to a turkey and putting a turkey in my outfit,” she went on. “I was just so skinny and pasty, and I was feeling so bad [about] myself that I did not wear a bikini for two years.”
Now reflecting on all the scrutiny she faced during her early 20s, Miley admitted that she felt “guilt and shame” for years during a candid chat with British Vogue.
“I carried some guilt and shame around myself for years because of how much controversy and upset I really caused,” she said.
“Now that I’m an adult, I realize how harshly I was judged. I was harshly judged as a child by adults, and now, as an adult, I realize that I would never harshly judge a child,” she said.
Miley also explained that she’d chosen to stray from her Disneyfied image because she wanted to separate herself from the character she’d played on TV.
“I was creating attention for myself because I was dividing myself from a character I had played,” she said. “Anyone, when you’re 20 or 21, you have more to prove: ‘I’m not my parents. I am who I am.’”
And speaking of harsh judgment, Miley went on to recall seeing cruel tabloid headlines about her appearance when she was just 20.
As the reporter of the British Vogue article notes, Miley recently came across a decade-old story in a tabloid magazine that highlighted her acne with the headline, “A Breakout Year!”
Speaking of the cruel moment now, Miley said, “Who thought that I was not a person who would be hurt by that? I was clearly a 20-year-old girl.”
“Sure, at 20 I was like every 20-year-old. You think you’re grown, but now I’m like, ‘Oh no, I was fully a kid,’” she added.