Miley Cyrus: Her Most Controversial Moments

Miley Cyrus broke out on the scene by starring in Disney’s Hannah Montana when she was just 11 years oldSince then, she has moved on to movies, a music career, and even advising and judging up and coming artists on The Voice. But her career hasn’t been a smooth journey.

She has made headlines multiple times for different controversies over the years. Some of them included feuds with fellow Disney stars, multiple accusations of racism, and more. But what shocked people the most? Here are her 15 biggest controversial moments so far.

1. Her topless Vanity Fair photo shoot

Miley Cyrus is wearing a blonde wig and has both arms in the air on stage.

Miley Cyrus | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

One of Cyrus’ first scandals was her Vanity Fair photo shoot, which happened when she was 15 years old. Many were shocked to see the young girl topless and covering herself with a sheet in the photo. Cyrus released a statement after there was a lot of backlash over the image.

I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,” she said according to The Huffington Post. “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

The photographer, Annie Leibovitz also released a statement after the controversy. “I’m sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted,” she said. “Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together, and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful.”

Interestingly, Cyrus later rescinded her apology. In a tweet exactly 10 years later, in April 2018, Cyrus simply said, “IM NOT SORRY.”

2. Her alleged racist photo scandal

Miley Cyrus is smiling on the red carpet with two twisted hair buns.

Miley Cyrus | Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Once again the actress was in hot water for a photo, but this time she was accused of being racist. A photo surfaced of her along with multiple other white people stretching their eyes seemingly mocking the one Asian man who was posing with them in the photo. She also apologized for this on her website.

I really wanted to stress how sorry I am if the photo of me with my friends offended anyone. I have learned a valuable lesson from this and know that sometimes my actions can be unintentionally hurtful. I know everything is a part of GOD’s ultimate plan, and mistakes happen so that eventually I will become the woman he aspires me to be.

3. Photos of her are released after her phone is hacked

Miley Cyrus is wearing a denim jacket with flowers on it on The Voice.

Miley Cyrus on The Voice | NBC

The pop star was one of the many celebrities including Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried who was targeted by hackers. There were private photos of her leaked on Celeb Jihad, according to Metro. The images were taken down after the site was threatened with legal action.

4. Cyrus and her friend are accused of making fun of Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez

Mandy Jiroux is wearing a backwards cap and is posing next to a smiling Miley Cyrus.

Mandy Jiroux and Miley Cyrus | The Miley And Mandy Show!!!! via YouTube

Back in the day, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez would make silly YouTube videos together. But things took a turn when Cyrus and her friend, Mandy Jiroux made YouTube videos seemingly to mock Cyrus’ fellow Disney stars. She later explained why she made the videos in Popstar! Magazine.

We were just, like, having fun. … They have, like, a YouTube account, and so at the end of our video we did put ‘Go to their YouTube.’ … We were kind of supporting their channel, but also being silly because they were being funny, and that’s our thing — to be funny. … Elvis says, ‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,’ so we were imitating them being funny.

5. She disses Gomez during her concert

Selena Gomez sings on stage as her hair is blowing in the wind.

Selena Gomez | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Cyrus’ feud with fellow Disney stars didn’t stop with YouTube videos. She also brought a cardboard cutout of Gomez on stage with her only to throw it into the audience while she was on her Bangerz Tour. Cyrus did this while singing her song, “F U.”

6. She smokes salvia on camera

Miley Cyrus is wearing a black turtle neck with two flowers over her chest.

Miley Cyrus on The Voice | NBC

There was a video released of the singer smoking salvia out of a bong. The herb is hallucinogenic and legal in California. In the video, you can hear her saying, “I want more of that sh*t.” Cyrus later gave a statement in regard to the controversy.

But they’re not Miley Cyrus,” the pop star said referring to other people who have also tried salvia. “They’re not role models. So for me, it was a bad decision, because of my fans and because of what I stand for.”

7. She pole dances at the Teen Choice Awards

Miley Cyrus is crouched down and singing into a microphone while holding onto a pole with the other.

Miley Cyrus at the Teen Choice Awards | FOX

The singer performed “Party in the U.S.A.” at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards. Her dance routine included a pole, which was shocking given that she wasn’t fully done with Hannah Montana yet. She also was performing at an awards show catered to teens and young fans.

8. She criticizes Disney

Hannah Montana has blonde hair and is wearing a red leather jacket.

Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana | Disney

In an interview, the then 22-year-old reflected on her years working for the Disney empire. “From the time I was 11, it was, ‘You’re a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing,'” she said according to The Wrap. “Meanwhile, I’m this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. It was like Toddlers & Tiaras. I had f****ing flippers.”

9. She twerks on Robin Thicke

Miley Cyrus is dancing on Robin Thicke on stage.

Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus | MTV

Cyrus’ routine at the Teen Choice Awards wasn’t the only award show performance of hers to make headlines. In 2013 she performed with the “Blurred Lines” singer, Robin Thicke, at the MTV VMAs. Cyrus wore an outrageous outfit and danced sexually with the singer. Her performance look turned into a popular Halloween costume that year.

10. She is accused of culture appropriation

Miley Cyrus is twerking as women are twerking behind her.

“We Can’t Stop” | RCA

The star began changing her image with her album, Bangerz and released a hit music video, “We Can’t Stop” where she’s seen putting in grillz and twerking with black women.

It’s definitely a far cry from the Disney pop star she first started out as and given her use of black culture, many accused her of cultural appropriation.

11. She performs with a strap-on dildo and blow-up doll

Miley Cyrus throwing money in the air on stage.

Miley Cyrus | Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The pop star didn’t hold back on her Bangerz Tour. She had outrageous costumes and props you would find in adult stores, like a strap-on dildo and blow-up dolls. That’s certainly one way to move away from the Disney brand.

12. She throws a penis party for Liam Hemsworth

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are sitting together and smiling.

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth | Michael Buckner/Getty Images

The singer celebrated Liam Hemsworth’s birthday in 2012 with a penis cake. Some were shocked to find the 19-year-old pretending to lick the penis cake in released photos. The party was in Club Icon and other celebrities, like Demi Moore and Rumer Willis, were there according to TMZ.

13. Nicki Minaj calls Cyrus out on stage

Nicki Minaj looks disgusted as she's on stage and holding her award.

Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMAs | MTV

Before the 2015 MTV VMAs, Nicki Minaj spoke out on Twitter about how it seems like white girls get more nominations than black female artists. She tweeted, “When the “other” girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination.”

Some artists took this as a slight against them, and responded. As Cyrus said in an interview, “It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love. You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war. It became Nicki Minaj and Taylor in a fight, so now the story isn’t even on what you wanted it to be about. Now you’ve just given E! News ‘Catfight! Taylor and Nicki Go at It.'”

Because of this, it wasn’t that shocking that when Cyrus and Minaj were both on stage at the VMAs, Minaj said, “back to this b*tch that had a lot to say about me in the press. Miley, what’s good?”

14. She insults the engagement ring Hemsworth gave her

Miley Cyrus with her arms folded in front of a car, with Liam Hemsworth in the background

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in The Last Song | Disney

The couple got engaged so they were asked a lot of questions about their relationship in interviews. Cyrus made headlines for slamming the engagement ring Hemsworth gave her, saying it “isn’t really my aesthetic.” She then continued, “But I’ll wear it because you love me.”

15. She criticizes hip-hop and rap

Miley Cyrus is wearing a pink shirt and pig tails on The Voice.

Miley Cyrus on The Voice | NBC

In 2017 it looked like the singer was revamping her image once again and moving away from rap music. So it didn’t land very well when she dissed the genre in an interview after being accused of using rap culture and appropriating it to change her Disney image. She said:

But I also love that new Kendrick [Lamar] song [‘Humble’]: ‘Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.’ I love that because it’s not ‘Come sit on my d*ck, suck on my c*ck.’ I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c*ck’ —I am so not that.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

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