Why We're Worried About Madonna

Madonna rose the ranks to stardom beginning in the '80s, and her eclectic style and unapologetic personality paved the way for female artists today. Her first chart-topping record "Holiday," released in 1983 paved the way for many other dance-pop tracks that celebrated femininity and sexuality. She quickly became an icon, not afraid to break down barriers in her lyricism and music videos that had previously been untouched by females of her caliber. Over 40 years have passed since Madonna became a household name, but her music continues to captivate listeners across the globe. 

Madonna has undeniably achieved great feats in her life — paving the way for feminism before it became a pop culture movement. But the great steps she took early on in her career were also sacrifices. At a time when sex wasn't as widely talked about, Madonna pushed the boundaries of what was seen as acceptable for many in her generation. Her widely-criticized book "Sex," published in 1992, was met with harsh backlash and mixed reviews. She opened up on Instagram (per Billboard) about the media slamming her in the early '90s. "I was called a whore, a witch, a heretic, and the devil," she admitted. It's not just her life in the spotlight that has taken its toll on Madonna at times. The "Like a Virgin" singer has dealt with a number of personal battles throughout her childhood and career. We're taking a look at all the reasons why we're worried about Madonna.

Fans say Madonna lost her mind

Madonna is known for groundbreaking material — but not all of her fans were too keen on her form of self-expression on TikTok. The singer posted a video to the social media platform lip-syncing along to some violent lyrics. In the clip, reposted to her Instagram, Madonna is featured mouthing the words to Baby Keem's song "Vent" as he raps: "Have you ever been punched in your motherf*king face?" and, "What you say? Oh, you haven't? Alright, wait."

The video was met with mixed reviews, to say the least. "This is like the older generation trying to be cool with the young kids ... Please stop. This looks ridiculous," one user commented on the Instagram post. "No hate. I love her, but honestly ... A legend downgrading her prestige. This looks and feels forced & fake. In the past anything Madonna did, there would be some wit, consciousness, a message, and organic flow to her public interaction. Now, it's just coming across as 'look at me,' narcissism & even boredom. Madonna, you are above all this ... Adjust your crown ..." another fan commented. Regardless of the criticism, Madonna continues to upload TikTok content regularly and unapologetically. 

Madonna lost her mother and brother

Madonna is no stranger to tragedy. The "Material Girl" singer lost her mother and brother to cancer, and it took a toll on the artist. She was just five years old when her mother died of breast cancer and she admitted to Rolling Stone in 1989 that "If she were alive, I would be someone else. I would be a completely different person." But despite the tragic loss, it gave the artist the strength to pursue her big dreams, like moving to New York City in 1978 to start her career. "I don't think she ever allowed herself to wallow in the tragedy of her situation. So in that respect, I think she gave me an incredible lesson," Madonna told the Chicago Tribune.

The "Like a Prayer" singer had her ups and downs with her brother Anthony before he died of throat cancer in 2023. Her estranged brother was homeless for years, telling the Daily Mail: "Madonna doesn't give a s**t if I'm dead or alive. She lives in her own world," adding, "I never loved her in the first place, she never loved me. We never loved each other." An insider told People that his struggles with addiction affected his relationship with Madonna, but the singer was by his side during his stay in rehab before his death.

Regardless of their complex relationship, Madonna honored her brother following his death in a tribute on her Instagram Story (per People). "Thank you for blowing my mind as a young girl," she wrote, adding: "You planted many important seeds."

Madonna received backlash about her appearance

Madonna made headlines in 2023, but it wasn't for her incredible talents as an artist. The "4 Minutes" singer faced criticism from fans who accused her of undergoing an excessive amount of cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries. In an opinion piece by the New York Post, her appearance at the 2023 Grammy Awards was dubbed "a grotesque mixture of a too-stretched jawline, overly swollen lips, creepy bleached eyebrows, and skin smoother than a newborn's."

Fans took to Twitter to share their thoughts on Madonna's changed look following the award show. "Me attempting to ignore the fact that Madonna has a whole new face. #GRAMMYs," one user wrote alongside a meme of Adele at a basketball game with a blank expression. "Madonna looks good for her age ... if her age is 2,700-year-old vampire who eats babies and small animals alive," another fan tweeted.

But in typical Madonna fashion, she didn't let the critics get her down. After all, she's been the subject of controversy since she became a star. She took to Twitter following the chatter, writing, "Look how cute I am now that swelling from surgery has gone down. Lol," alongside a crying laughing face emoji. The singer didn't admit to exactly what procedure she had done or when, but the Queen of Pop did reveal her sense of humor. 

Madonna's health crisis put a pause on her upcoming tour

In the midst of preparing for her worldwide "Celebration Tour," Madonna was hospitalized due to unforeseen circumstances (per TMZ). Reports say the singer was rehearsing for the world tour for 12 hours a day at times, and the strain took its toll on her body. The "Back That Up To The Beat" singer was found unconscious in June 2023, just weeks before her first tour stop. 

Madonna's manager Guy Oseary took to Instagram following the incident writing: "...Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection which [led] to a several day stay in the ICU," adding, "Her health is improving, however she is still under medical care. A full recovery is expected." Oseary went on to say that the tour was put on pause as the singer recovers, but the dates will be rescheduled at a later time. An insider told PageSix: "Madonna doesn't want to cancel her tour. She was having a blast in rehearsals and wants to get back to it when she's ready."

The singer returned home from the hospital after spending several nights recovering from the infection. Sources told TMZ that Madonna had a low-grade fever for a month that went unreported as she carried out intense rehearsals for the tour. According to the insider, "Madonna mostly ignored her symptoms and never got checked out by a doctor because she was laser focused on rehearsing for her upcoming tour ... working her butt off to get ready to perform."

Madonna was punished as a child at her Catholic school

From a sheltered childhood to becoming the rebellious, showstopping artist she is today — Madonna has undergone quite a transformation. She wasn't always the carefree, sexually-liberated musician fans know and love her for. The singer admitted in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that she attended Catholic schools throughout her upbringing. The singer revealed she started liking boys around 10 years old, but the nuns in her school would reprimand her for chasing them at recess. 

"I didn't understand what was so bad about it, so I would do it anyway," Madonna admitted. "And I would get punished for it. I also remember being really annoyed that I couldn't wear pants to school or church. My brothers could, and that seemed to me all locked up with the religion. I kept saying to my father, 'But why can't I love God the same way if I have pants on?' You know? And my father would always have these stock responses, like 'Because I said so.'"

Madonna has come a long way since chasing after boys at Catholic school. The artist admitted in her 2013 interview with Harper's Bazaar that she champions Christianity in an eccentric way as a pop artist, often wearing cross necklaces and referring to Jesus as sexy. "I have a funny relationship with religion. I'm a big believer in ritualistic behavior as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. But I'm not a big fan of rules," she revealed.

Madonna was sexually assaulted after she moved to New York City

Madonna moved to the Big Apple in 1977 when she was just 19 years old, and it presented life-altering challenges. In a shocking interview with Howard Stern in 2015 (per Glamour), the "Frozen On Fire" singer revealed she was raped shortly after she moved to New York. "New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back," the artist admitted.

Madonna revealed she was lured to the man's house after he appeared to be friendly, offering to walk her to his home across the street so she could use his phone when she was locked out, and her Michigan upbringing and naivety made her trusting. The singer decided not to press charges following the incident. "You've already been violated, so then, do you want to talk about it? Do you want to make it public? No, it's just not worth it. It's too humiliating," she said. Despite the tragic details, Madonna told Harper's Bazaar she refused to give up. "I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Madonna called her acting career a failure

Madonna may be known for her outstanding musical career, but the Grammy award-winning artist wasn't always confident about her acting skills. Madonna is known for her roles in films in the '90s and early 2000s including "A League of Their Own," "Evita," and "Die Another Day." Her role in "Evita" earned her first Golden Globe award after the movie raked in $141 million at the box office.

However, years before she starred in "Evita," the artist questioned her talent in film. She told the Los Angeles Times in 1991: "I've been a failure so far. And the reason is that I simply haven't put a lot of thought into it. I haven't honored or respected a movie career the way I should have. I didn't approach it the way I approached my music career. I'd had a lot of success in music, and all of a sudden people were going, 'Here's a movie.' And I didn't think about it. I just took it," she admitted.

Despite achieving some success in her acting career, Madonna has mostly been criticized for her acting. The artist is listed in the top spot for "Hollywood's Worst Actors" by The Golden Rasberry Index, otherwise known as the Razzie Awards, which ranks some of the biggest actor flops. She's in the company of Sylvester Stalone, Adam Sandler, and Kevin Costner based on votes.

Madonna called herself a tormented person

Madonna may be known as the Queen of Pop, but she has battled her own inner demons at times. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1991 the "Papa Don't Preach" singer opened up about how pain she's dealt with in her life was woven into her music. "I'm a tormented person. I have a lot of demons inside of me. My pain is as big as my joy. It's always been that way. I used to throw myself into a project to mask my pain. Now I've [learned] to exorcise my pain — and try to heal it — through my work," the singer admitted.

Part of Madonna's demons could be due to the loss of her mother she experienced at such a young age. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2016, the Grammy award-winning artist admitted that sometimes at random times she has thoughts about death. "I was thinking about dying. I'm obsessed with it because my mother died of breast cancer when she was thirty," she said. Madonna went on to reveal that her darker times allowed her to create tracks like "Live to Tell," "Oh Father," and "Promise to Try."

Madonna's emotions have made her music that much more powerful. When asked whether she felt it was easiest to put write music when she was sad or happy, she told Interview magazine: "Sad. [laughs] Unfortunately. But it's okay, because I'm sad most of the time, so we're good. Not sad, but upset about something." 

Madonna's stepmother abused her

Madonna's childhood was anything but picture-perfect. After losing her mother at a young age, she went on to live with her father Silvio, and his then-wife. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the artist opened up about her troubled relationship with her former stepmom. "My stepmother slapped me a lot, and she gave me a bloody nose once. I was thrilled about it because my nose bled all over an outfit that she made me for Easter. I really hated it, and I didn't want to wear it to church," she admitted, adding,  "...Not only did I not have to wear the dress, but I didn't have to go to church."

Madonna also admitted that her stepmother forbid her from using tampons, forcing her to go to a friend for advice. "That's why my friend Moira had to teach me how to wear a tampon. I'm telling you, I put it in sideways and was walking around paralyzed one day. It pinched a nerve or something," she revealed. The singer's controlling relationship with her mother figure at the time led her to rebel, and she even admitted to having sex for the first time at just 14 years old. 

Madonna's sheltered upbringing was a far cry from the liberated pop vixen she became known to be. Her self-discovery could be due to a rigid childhood where sex was hardly discussed. "I've never really talked about sex with my father. My parents were virgins when they got married. My mother was very religious, too," the artist said.

Madonna's tumultuous relationship with her father

Madonna's relationship with her father Silvio is complicated. The singer was born into a large family, and she admitted to the Los Angeles Times that she felt she was fighting for attention at times. "Because I had such a large family, I realized that I would only be noticed and heard if I made the biggest noise. If I wanted my father's attention, I would get on a table and tap-dance and lift my dress and — guess what — he'd pay attention to me," she shared.

The "Hung Up" singer told the Chicago Tribune that it was hard to remain close to her father after he remarried the family's nanny. "...Then he got taken away from me when he married my stepmother. It was then that I said, 'Okay, I don't need anybody. No one's going to break my heart again.'" Madonna also admitted to Rolling Stone that her father's strict rules and devout Christian faith created a wedge between them. "My father didn't give me advice, he just gave orders," she revealed. 

Madonna admitted that her career probably came as a shock to her father, but he never speaks about it. "He doesn't talk about it so I can fit in and not feel the scorn of my brothers and sisters," she told Rolling Stone. Regardless of the up and downs with Silvio, Madonna celebrated her father in an Instagram tribute (per Nicki Swift) on his 90th birthday in 2021. "Thank you for giving me life ...  Happy 90th Birthday! You are the O.G.," she wrote.