Miley Cyrus reflects on ‘guilt and shame’ she felt over past controversies: ‘I was harshly judged’

Miley Cyrus has spoken candidly about the “guilt and shame” she experienced as a result of her past controversies, and how she was ultimately able to let go of the feelings.

The 30-year-old singer reflected on her rise to fame during a new interview withBritish Vogue, published on 18 May. During the cover interview, Cyrus confessed that she used to blame herself when she faced criticism at the start of her career.

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

However, Cyrus acknowledged that, once she got older, she had a change in perspective. “Now that I’m an adult, I realise how harshly I was judged,” she said. “I was harshly judged as a child by adults and now, as an adult, I realise that I would never harshly judge a child.”

The “Flowers” singer also recalled moments when her appearance was scrutinised, such as when a tabloid magazine once shared a picture of her acne along with the headline: “A Breakout Year!” She went on to explain how the headline affected her, as it came out when she was in her early twenties.

“Right? Like who thought that I was not a person who would be hurt by that? Like I was clearly a 20-year-old girl,” Cyrus said. “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.’”

Cyrus then said she knew her decisions in her twenties would spark a conversation, such as the moment she twerked during her 2013 MTV Awards performance, or her music video for “Wrecking Ball,” in which she was nude on a demolition ball.

“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.”

However, she also acknowledged how her behaviour has changed since then, explaining: “I’m actually not an attention-seeking person, sitting here as a 30-year-old grown woman.”

The Hannah Montana star has previously defended herself from her past controversies. In 2008, Cyrus made headlines when she posed for a feature in Vanity Fair wearing only a white blanket, with the Disney star issuing an apology after the photo shoot was met with backlash.

“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 in a statement at the time. “I never intended for any of this to happen, and I apologise to my fans, who I care so deeply about.”

However, 10 years later, Cyrus took to Twitter to rescind her apology. In the tweet, Cyrus posted a 2008 cover of the New York Post that featured her and wrote: “I’M NOT SORRY…F*** YOU #10yearsago.”

Cyrus also faced criticism in 2009 over her performance of “Party in the USA” at the Teen Choice Awards, during which she’d held onto and squatted next to a pole.

In December 2020, she shared a post on Instagram making fun of the scrutiny she’d faced when a video of her smoking out of a bong was leaked. At the time, she shared the clip of her teenage self and wrote: “Happy 10-year anniversary to the groundbreaking video of a teenager smoking a bong and saying dumb s*** to their friends. (Not sure the director of this fine film should be considered a “friend” but...)”

Elsewhere in her interview with British Vogue, the “Jaded” singer recited a line from a new song she’s been working on, which makes a reference to her twenties.

“I know I used to be crazy,” she said. “I know I used to be fun. You say I used to be wild. I say I used to be young.”