Disturbing Things We Ignore About Miley Cyrus' Life Today

Miley Cyrus isn't just a Disney kid all grown up — this multi-talent has practically made a career out of controversy. Upon releasing her Bangerz album in 2013, the singer-actress infamously got very sexy on stage with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards, got naked in her "Wrecking Ball" music video (while fittingly swinging on an actual wrecking ball, as you do), and she just couldn't stop sticking her tongue out. It's worth noting that all of this happened three years after the outrage an underage Cyrus sparked by smoking salvia on video.

Though controversy is almost expected of most celebrities, perhaps especially if they got their start on the Disney Channel, none of the aforementioned antics are truly all that shocking. To be completely fair, the former Hannah Montana star had already tried to warn the world that she just "can't be tamed." (And honestly, who would want Miley any other way?) While speaking with Rolling Stone in December 2020, an evolved Cyrus admitted that "the pop-culture moments almost eclipse the music itself" in the earlier eras of her career, but noted, "I think that I'm really embracing ... that the music is a priority right now."

That said, there are still some genuinely shocking things we've all been ignoring about Miley Cyrus' life today. Would she have become a completely different pop star if she'd been held more accountable for some of her actions? We can't go back in time, but we can give you details.

Miley Cyrus mocked her fellow Disney stars

Back in 2008, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez were still the new kids in town at the Disney Channel, when the two friends (then 15 and 16 years old, respectively) posted a now-deleted YouTube video. They chatted about things like makeup and fashion — and the clip garnered over 3 million views, per MTV News.

A 15-year-old Miley Cyrus — then the reigning Disney princess — may have felt threatened by this, as she posted a since-deleted response on YouTube. Per the outlet, it featured Cyrus and her pal, Mandy Jiroux, inserting clips of themselves in the middle of the former duo's original video, appearing to make fun of the gap Lovato used to have in her teeth (she'd gotten it removed by 2008) and their wardrobe (Cyrus donned a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt in reference to Gomez's Power Rangers one).

It was typical teenager behavior, but it was also seen as bullying — and there's no excuse for that. While Cyrus later told Popstar! (via MTV News) that she was "super sorry," she also made excuses for her controversial behavior. "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,'" she said, adding, "Elvis says, 'Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,' so we were imitating them being funny."

That time Miley Cyrus posted a racist photo

Per TMZ, a photo surfaced online of Miley Cyrus and a group of friends slanting their eyes in 2009. Slammed as racist behavior against the Asian community, it prompted a response from the Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA): "The photograph ... is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans," the statement read in part. "This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent."

Cyrus later shared a statement explaining her behavior on her official fan site, which read in part (via MTV News): "I've also been told there are some people upset about some pictures taken of me with friends making goofy faces! Well, I'm sorry if those people looked at those pics and took them wrong and out of context!" 

That's not so much an apology as a defensive explanation, and the OCA reportedly didn't think it was "enough," according to MTV News. So, days later, Cyrus tried again. "I really wanted to stress how sorry I am if the photo of me with my friends offended anyone," her second statement read in part. "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." That's a little bit better.

Miley Cyrus may have dated a much older man

In 2008, a 15-year-old Miley Cyrus was linked to model-actor-singer Justin Gaston, who was 20 at the time. It's worth noting that the singer-actress wouldn't confirm or deny the nature of the relationship — which, in showbiz, could potentially mean there was something to hide (though we can't say for certain). 

"Right now, everything is, like, really good," Cyrus said on Ryan Seacrest's radio show at the time (per MTV News). "I haven't really been answering the question much just because we're just really happy with everything and the way everything has worked out. I'm totally gushing right now!" The former Hannah Montana star even said that her famous dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, thought Gaston was "cool." Revealing that she and Gaston bonded because of their faith and that he helped her get through difficult times, Miley added, "Our families are like, 'Whatever happens, happens.' If he's nothing but a really good friend, that's awesome."

That's all well and good, just so long as these two obeyed the law. Of course, both Cyrus and Gaston moved on from whatever their relationship was long ago — Cyrus with on-and-off beau Liam Hemsworth, and Gaston with his now-wife, The Young and the Restless actress Melissa Ordway — which was probably for the best.

Miley Cyrus and the Vanity Fair incident

2008 was a big year for Miley Cyrus. Hannah Montana was at the height of its popularity, she released her first solo record, Breakout, and she began working on 2009's Hannah Montana: The Movie. However, the young star also endured one of her biggest scandals when she simulated nudity for a Vanity Fair article at the age of 15. 

Photographer Annie Leibovitz suggested the pose, and Cyrus thought it was a "really artsy" idea. "It wasn't in a skanky way ... And you can't say no to Annie," the music star said in the piece. Considering the backlash that followed, it turns out it was a really bad idea — but the adults around Cyrus clearly should've been the ones to say no. Teen Vogue reports that both Leibovitz and Cyrus issued apologies, with the singer-actress saying: "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."

However, Cyrus officially took back the apology in April 2018, when she tweeted out a photo of a New York Post cover about the photos with the headline, "Miley's Shame." In true Cyrus form, she wrote in the caption, "IM NOT SORRY F**k YOU #10yearsago."

Daddy Billy Ray was very worried about Miley Cyrus

In 2011, there was some drama in the Cyrus family, because Miley Cyrus' parents, Tish and Billy Ray Cyrus, were divorcing (they've since reconciled). Did some of that tension seep into the relationship between father and daughter? Because Billy Ray had some surprising things about Miley to GQ at the time, including blaming Hannah Montana — the show that made Miley famous and employed him for about five years — for his personal issues. "I'll tell you right now," he said, "the d**n show destroyed my family."

Billy Ray also claimed that Miley's team would use him as a scapegoat whenever she got into trouble, because "that's what daddies do," saying this occurred "every time something happened in Miley's career, every time the train went off the track, if you will — Vanity Fair ... pole-dancing ... whatever scandal it was." However, it was frustrating for him: "It became so obvious that, man, no matter what happens, they're going to put you up there and let you take the bullet."

None of that is as eerie, however, as when he compared Miley's life at the time to those of late celebrities like Kurt Cobain, Anna Nicole Smith, and Michael Jackson. When asked if he really thought that's where she was headed, Billy Ray said, "I'm her daddy so maybe I'm a little sensitive to it, but now's a real good time to make sure everything's okay. An ounce of prevention's worth a pound of cure."

Was Miley Cyrus' assistant a serious bully?

Miley Cyrus has been linked to more than one incident in which Demi Lovato was bullied — but this one from 2013 is much more serious than teenage jealously. According to Hollywood Life, Cyrus' then-assistant, Cheyne Thomas, posted a since-deleted Instagram video making fun of Lovato's alcoholism. After the "Skyscraper" singer tweeted out a passive-aggressive reaction — "You are who your friends are." — she and Thomas had an exchange on Twitter. 

While Cyrus isn't directly responsible for this incident, she also didn't distance herself from Thomas' remarks either, which was surprising considering alcoholism is a serious illness that shouldn't be taken lightly. Still, it's no secret that Cyrus and Lovato have had their ups and downs over the years. In 2012, Lovato told Seventeen (via Us Weekly), "No matter how many times we fight, we will always be in each others' lives. Miley and I are very strong-headed, so when we fight, it's brutal and we're like, 'We're never going to be friends again!' Then two days later, we're like, 'I love you and I miss you!'"

Us Weekly reports that these former Disney stars are still close. Lovato even came on Cyrus' Instagram Live in March 2020, saying, "We connected [when we were younger] because we just saw something in each other. Maybe it was because of spirituality or maybe it was just our hearts." Meanwhile, E! reported in 2017 that Cyrus and Thomas haven't been close since she and now ex-husband Liam Hemsworth reunited in 2016.

Miley Cyrus' attempt to help homeless youth 'backfired'

At the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus made a powerful statement by having Jesse Helt, a young man who was once homeless, accept her video of the year award for "Wrecking Ball" on her behalf. 

"I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States, who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I'm one of these people," Helt said in his speech. "... I've survived in shelters all over the city, I've cleaned your hotel rooms, I've been an extra in your movies, I've been an extra in your life." He went on to tell the crowd that Los Angeles has the biggest homeless youth population in the country and suggest that people go to Cyrus' Facebook page to learn more about the cause (and presumably donate to help). Cyrus could be seen in the crowd crying as she listened to him.

Ending homelessness among youth is a worthy cause to support, but the statement "backfired" on Cyrus when it came out that Helt had a criminal record, per Rolling Stone. "Arrested in 2010 for breaking and entering  an apartment in Oregon," Helt reportedly "violated his probation" when he moved to California, and ended up serving six months in jail for the offense. TMZ reports that Helt put the award on eBay with a "buy it now" option of $15,000 in 2016.

Miley Cyrus' alleged cultural appropriation has been called a 'minstrel act'

Miley Cyrus has been accused of having a history of cultural appropriation throughout her career. "Miley became a minstrel act in 2013, using moments of performance and on her social media platforms to imagine herself inhabiting a Black body," Sherronda Brown wrote for the Black Youth Project in 2017, in response to the "Malibu" singer announcing a more wholesome era of her career to Billboard

"I'm ­giving the world a hug and saying, 'Hey, look. We're good — I love you.'" Cyrus said, noting that she decided to move on from hip hop due to its supposed vulgar lyrics. "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**k' — I am so not that." If this quote left you wondering why a post-Bangerz Cyrus wore a "unicorn outfit with a strap-on phallus" during her Dead Petz tour, you're not alone.

While Cyrus isn't the only pop star to take from hip-hop culture, that doesn't mean her behavior should be excused. "The ease with which she is able to achieve this almost seamless transformation is evidence for why cultural appropriation is a form of violence," Brown wrote. "Not only does she have the ability to effortlessly slip in and out of Black aesthetics while maintaining her white privilege, but she also uses this moment of resurgence to paint hip-hop as the Big Bad Wolf that scared her away." 

That time Miley Cyrus had no chill with Nicki Minaj

Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj have shared quite the rivalry over the years, but the most infamous incident between this musical duo happened when Cyrus inserted herself where she didn't belong. 

Back in 2015, Minaj tweeted out her frustration in not receiving a video of the year nomination at the MTV VMAs for "Anaconda": "When the 'other' girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination." Taylor Swift, who was nominated for "Bad Blood," initially took this as a personal attack, and it made headlines — but the singer-songwriter eventually understood the issue at heart (racism in the music industry) and made nice with the rapper, per Billboard.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Cyrus, who didn't exactly take the high road when asked about the situation by The New York Times. "People forget that the choices that they make and how they treat people in life affect you in a really big way," she said, seemingly implying that Minaj personally attacked someone. "If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don't respect your statement because of the anger that came with it." Cyrus was accused of feeding into the "angry Black woman" stereotype, and the ladies hashed it out in public at the VMAs, when Minaj infamously asked Cyrus, "What's good, Miley?"

Miley Cyrus has a heart condition

Miley Cyrus has clearly made some mistakes in her career, but we still want the best for this multi-talented star. So naturally, we were worried when we learned that she suffers from a heart condition (via MTV News). Back in 2009, the "WTF Do I Know" singer revealed that she has tachycardia, which Heart.org describes as "a heart rate that's too fast." 

In her memoir, Miles To Go, Cyrus wrote, "The type of tachycardia I have isn't dangerous. It won't hurt me, but it does bother me. There is never a time onstage when I'm not thinking about my heart." It is worrisome to think about what Cyrus might feel during a high-energy performance, and in 2014, In Touch reported (via Daily Mail) that the condition might be more serious than the younger Cyrus had implied, especially since she began partying hard during her Bangerz era. "She could get heart muscle problems and even heart failure at worst," Dr. Mark Urman claimed to the outlet. "She knows she's not supposed to smoke pot or do drugs, but she does it anyway." 

Thankfully, Cyrus seems to be taking better care of herself these days. After revealing in a 2019 Twitter thread, "I am proud to say, I am simply in a different place from where I was when I was younger," Cyrus revealed to Variety in June 2020 that she was six months' sober.