Skip To Content
  • Viral badge

Miley Cyrus Recalled The Harsh Way She Was Judged By The Public In Her Early 20s After Discussing How Her Infamous 2013 VMAs Performance Led To Her Being Body-Shamed

“I was creating attention for myself because I was dividing myself from a character I had played.”

Miley Cyrus is reflecting on her turbulent career in the spotlight.

Miley on a talk show

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.

Miley and Billy

As you’re probably aware, Hannah Montana was a global success, and Miley consequently became one of the biggest Disney stars.

Miley as a girl

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).

Miley on the MTV VMAs red carpet

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.

Close-up of Miley as a teenager

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.”

Miley in a backless outfit

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.”

Miley performing

But as Miley grew older, she began to rebel against her Disneyfied image by branching away from the apologetic persona she’d upheld.

Miley performing

In 2013, she caused a huge stir after infamously twerking on Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards. Just a month later, she took the internet by storm once again after stripping naked in the "Wrecking Ball" music video.

Miley twerking on Robin onstage

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.

Miley riding a wrecking ball

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.

Miley dancing onstage

“I basically went through two or three years where I wouldn't wear shorts,” she said on Instagram Live. “I stopped wearing skirts onstage.”

Close-up of Miley in an off-the-shoulder crop top

“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.”

Close-up of Miley in a bandeau top

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.

Miley licking a weight

“I carried some guilt and shame around myself for years because of how much controversy and upset I really caused,” she said.

Miley performing onstage in a sparkly bodysuit

“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.

Close-up of Miley

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.

Miley performing

“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.’”

Miley with her father

And speaking of harsh judgment, Miley went on to recall seeing cruel tabloid headlines about her appearance when she was just 20.

Miley performing onstage

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!”

Miley on a talk show

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.”

Close-up of Miley

“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.

Miley performing onstage

You can read Miley’s full interview with British Vogue here.