This past weekend Miley Cyrus was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event for her charity work alongside Helen Mirren, Ava Duvernay, Scarlett Johansson and Laverne Cox.
She arrived to Variety’s red carpet at the Beverly Hills Wilshire arm and arm with her main squeeze and former co-star Liam Hemsworth. She wore a cute, low cut navy and white lace-rimmed floral pantsuit, and her short bleach blonde pony was fastened atop her natural roots with a navy ribbon bow. Cyrus, all smiles, was honored for her charity work initiatives for the homeless.
The Miley Cyrus that spoke at the podium on Friday is unlike the many Miley Cyrus’ of the past. To be honest, this is my favorite Miley yet – because 2016 Miley so far has been all about helping people.
Hannah Montana died a long time ago.
In her final Hannah days and since the Disney show’s official end in 2011, we’ve seen many different transformations of Miley Cyrus. At first she was ‘just bein’ Miley’ and then she couldn’t be tamed. The ‘Breakout’ star made it clear she no longer wanted to be associated with her former Disney franchise.
Her infamous 2013 ‘Blurred Lines’ VMA performance as a sexualized baby destroyed the Miley we thought we formerly knew. Subsequently, the release of her album Bangerz finished the job – ushering in a new, adult-yet-childish sexed up era of Cyrus in both her music and image.
Her long brown wavy layers disappeared into a short bleach blonde bun. Then her small bun disappeared into a a practically shaved blonde pixie cut. This was a Miley we hadn’t see before – she openly smoked weed, stuck her tongue out, and wore nipple-pasties. The world didn’t know what to think. Cyrus was subject to a ton of slut-shaming for expressing her comfort with nudity and twerking.
Following her VMA performance with Robin Thicke, an alarming amount of people criticized her sexual nature, rather than Thicke’s, who at the time was singing about how he knew a woman “wanted it” even though she had said no. Blurred lines of sexual consent? Yuck.
In 2013 Bangerz was new, it was good, and it was an iconic shift. This album was perhaps the first honest representation seen of Cyrus since the start of her music career. We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball were the songs of that summer, and suddenly everyone saw Miley Cyrus as much more than a former child-star. To teenagers everywhere she was dope, relatable, and something their parents didn’t approve of.
Since 2013 Miley has continued with her more honest, open, “I don’t give a f***” image. In 2014 she sent a homeless young man to accept her award at the VMAs on her behalf to raise awareness of homeless youth. Then, Cyrus was subject to controversy again when she hosted the 2015 VMA’s wearing white, matted dreadlocks, that some might describe as ‘hippy hair.’ This was problematic cultural appropriation – but aside from this, the real controversy centered around artist Nicki Minaj calling her out onstage for some pre-show comments made. Nicki’s Miley What’s Good? is now on T-shirts everywhere.
Since then, it seems Miley has rebounded by helping others. In 2015, Cyrus founded and appropriately named The Happy Hippie Foundation, a non-profit organization that rallies young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations. The foundations works with The Trevor Project, Planned Parenthood, and several suicide prevention centers. Last year she also released and toured for a completely free Soundcloud album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. This was when it started to seem that Miss ‘I don’t give a f****’ did actually give a few f****s.
Fast forward to now, in 2016, Miley is in her most powerful final form: a happy, non-binary, pansexual hippie. She’s ditched the problematic dreads (finally). She’s working heavily within charity and social activism – encouraging people to vote, raising awareness around LGBT issues, and showing us some authentic passions of hers.
She’s mentoring on The Voice, focusing on the music, and helping others. She recently revealed to Variety that she identifies as pansexual and is attracted to both genders. She also revealed that she is non-binary, considers herself genderless, and has never truly felt comfortable as a girl or as a boy. To many, Miley Cyrus coming out publicly adds validity to their own stories and identities, which are frequently misunderstood.
The Miley were are seeing now is evolved, open, and genuine. Some people are always going to hate Miley Cyrus. She is a symbol of sexual freedom, provocativeness, and female power (which we know is constantly being attacked – see: Donald Trump).
Whether you hate her or not, it’s time to give some credit where credit is due: 2016 Miley Cyrus does a lot for the homeless, LGBTQ+ communities, and struggling youth, all while continuing to work as a woman in Hollywood (no easy task there) mentoring aspiring and often underprivileged contestants on NBC’s The Voice.
I’m here for this Miley. 🎤👅 👏 Are you?