In 2008, Miley Cyrus, then 15, posed for renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz for the cover of Vanity Fair. The portrait was a simple one, and featured the young starlet with tousled hair, a fresh face and a bed sheet covering her torso — and not much else.
Outrage ensued, with critics admonishing Leibovitz and the publication for showing Cyrus in such a mature light. Disney chimed in with the assertion that Vanity Fair “deliberately manipulated” their beloved Hannah Montana, and Cyrus followed that with a statement of her own: “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. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
Ten years later, Cyrus is took that apology back. On Sunday (April 29), she posted an old photo of the New York Post‘s front page crowing about the scandal, and left little room for interpretation on her feelings about it: “I’M NOT SORRY. F— YOU.”
Since the Vanity Fair cover dropped, Cyrus has grown into a fiercely independent individual who commits to her creative vision — even when it occasionally teaches her hard lessons about cultural appropriation or her collaborators — and her personal life follows suit.
We learned a long time ago that she’s just being Miley, so here’s a rundown of her most unapologetic moments.
IM NOT SORRY
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) April 29, 2018
The Vanity Fair Cover
Before Disney spoke up, Cyrus defended her Vanity Fair cover and even went so far as to address the potential for controversy with the mag directly. In a caption that ran with the feature, she said that she wasn’t nervous about the cover hitting stands at all: “No, I mean I had a big blanket on. And I thought, This looks pretty, and really natural. I think it’s really artsy.”
Twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs
Her Bangerz period had already begun and the trippy, twerking visual for “We Can’t Stop” was released before the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, but Cyrus’s performance with Robin Thicke was definitely the coming out party for her new, wilder self. A few weeks after the VMAs, she sat down with Ellen DeGeneres to discuss the uproar, and she was frank about the double-standard of her receiving the brunt of the negativity after her jump into “Blurred Lines.” “No one talks about [Thicke],” she said. “No one cares about the man behind the booty. They only care about the one that’s shakin’ it … He was in rehearsal as much as I was and loving it, people.”
She went on to talk about how she couldn’t understand why people were so up in arms about everything from her sticking out her tongue to her VMAs outfit. “I’ve always been a very open person, and just, like, kind of chill with whatever anyone wants to do,” she continued. “Whatever is someone expressing themself, I’m cool with. I tried to wrap my head around what a normal person thinks about the performance, and I can’t really understand where the shock comes from. I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t really understand it because I don’t see anything more than what any other artists did that night. Gaga was in a thong, but no one cares.”
She Came in Like a “Wrecking Ball”
Though she’d eventually come to regret the “Wrecking Ball” video, Cyrus was adamant that there was more to the Terry Richardson-directed production than her licking a hammer and writhing around on construction equipment in the nude.
“If people get past the point that I’m naked and you actually look at me, you can tell that I actually look more broken then even the song sounds,” Cyrus said at the time. “The song is a pop ballad. It’s one of these songs that everyone is going to relate to, everyone has felt that feeling at one point… If people can take their minds out of the obvious, and go into their imagination a little bit, and see kind of what the video really means, and the way it’s so vulnerable — and actually, if you look in my eyes, I look more sad than my voice sounds on the record. It was a lot harder to do the video then it was to record the songs. It was much more of an emotional experience.”
The Arrival of Her Dead Petz
?Cyrus returned to the VMAs as the ceremony’s host in 2015, and in the final seconds of the broadcast, she screamed that she was dropping a new album that very second, and that fans should get to a computer and download it, for free, ASAP. This was a curve ball, as Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz marked not only her first recorded collaboration with Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips, but her first independent release, as Dead Petz hit Soundcloud and wasn’t a body of work tied to her contract with RCA.
The opening lines of the album on “Dooo It!” are the perfect encapsulation of this brash, confident and headstrong Cyrus: “Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace/ But I don’t give a f—, I ain’t no hippy.” If that wasn’t enough to file under “unapologetic,” her interview with the New York Times following the album’s release reiterated that she was thrilled to be wholly herself and doing things her way, both in and outside of the studio — and on the internet.
“I put naked pictures on my Instagram — I don’t care,” she said. “It’s not interesting anymore to see me like that.”
“They Know Some Dude in a Suit Didn’t Tell Me to Do It”
In her 2017 Billboard cover story, Cyrus was the definition of open about everything — including why she quit smoking weed, her relationship with fiancé Liam Hemsworth, her music and her politics. She also opened up about fighting to work with the musicians she wanted to, even if the “suits” didn’t necessarily agree.
“When I met Pharrell [Williams], before ‘Blurred Lines,’ before ‘Happy,’ people wouldn’t take meetings with me because they said, ‘He hasn’t had a hit in 10 years,'” she told Billboard. “They wanted to put me with the Dr. Lukes of the world, the Max Martins, and put me through the f–ing assembly line, and I said, ‘No. This is someone who actually cares about me. This is someone I feel safe with.’ I got completely shut out, and I had to just trust myself. What feels right to me feels right to my fans, because they know some dude in a suit didn’t tell me to do it.”
?Younger Now and the Tour That Wasn’t
Cyrus’ latest album, Younger Now, dropped in the fall of 2017, and typically, a tour announcement in support of it would’ve come next — except it didn’t. In a conversation with Howard Stern shortly after Younger Now‘s debut, she revealed that she had no intention to get back on the road anytime soon, and that was largely thanks to her furry friends at home, specifically her… pigs.
“Literally the only reason I’m not touring is because of those f—ing pigs,” she said. “That’s how much I love those pigs.”