7 Times Miley Cyrus Was A Champion For Body Positivity
Miley Cyrus has fast become one of my favorite celebrities of the moment. She's come a long way since her Disney Channel days, but what's more? Miley Cyrus is body positive and totally entrenched in queer activism. She's just plain wild and clearly doesn't give a damn about what anyone thinks of her body, her love of weed, or her sexual and gender identities.
Of course, Cyrus isn't without her problems. The 22-year-old musician's feminism is far from perfect when you consider that her outfits and beliefs are often riddled with political incorrectness and cultural appropriation. Clearly Cyrus isn't informed about everything, but you can't help but feel some sympathy for her when you think about the intensity that must come from being in the public eye and having your every move scrutinized. Most of us get to learn from and improve our problematic viewpoints in private (I didn't even know what cultural appropriation was until two years ago — yikes!). Of course, that's not to say that her growing process excuses her seemingly blatant disregard for her arguably appropriative actions.
That being said, Cyrus has come a long way in her education since her days as Disney's beloved Hannah Montana, which (in an interview with Marie Claire) she said led to her body dysmorphia, among a slew of other troubles. You have to applaud her for turning the tables on her life and on Hollywood by taking back control over her own body, as well as defining her own sexuality.
Here are some of the instances in the past few years in which Cyrus' journey with body positivity and self love were absolutely inspiring.
1. Her Support For The Free The Nipple Campaign
In 2013, Cyrus tweeted this photo of herself, holding a fake nipple over her eye in support of the Free the Nipple campaign. The campaign seeks to "decriminalize the female body" and "protest the backwards censorship laws in the U.S.," according to a report from the Huffington Post, which seems perfectly in line with Cyrus' own beliefs.
She has long been a hater of censorship of bodies, and told Rolling Stone that, "America is just so weird in what they think is right and wrong," referring to the confusion over the censorship she has experienced in her own career. Her commitment to de-stigmatizing the nude feminine body has prevailed for years after this.
2. When She Shut Down Objectification Flawlessly
In Aug. 2015, Cyrus appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live with some adorable rhinestone-encrusted, heart shaped pasties. Kimmel was completely flustered by her appearance, and told her to keep her arms down, as well as expressing that it was hard for him not to look at her breasts.
Cyrus dealt with his creepiness flawlessly, and went on to discuss her identity as a "vegan nudist," and her frustration with our culture's taboo surrounding nipples and female nudity. "Humans aren't afraid of the human breast," she said, " It's the nipples they don't like."
3. Growing Out Her Body Hair
Back in May 2015, Cyrus dyed her armpits (and pubic hair) pink, and documented the entire process on her Instagram. She was definitely one of the celebrity frontrunners in pioneering the dyed armpit hair trend.
Unsurprisingly, many people reacted in disgust toward her decision to challenge beauty and gender norms. However, she continued to bring more attention to her hairy pits at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, where she delivered a badass speech about new inductee Joan Jett.
4. Her Challenge Against Gendered Ideas Of Beauty
Cyrus abolishes various standards of beauty from her own repertoire through her shorter haircut, her wild crafty-looking outfits, and her gender fluidity. She is super aware of the evils of the constricting gender binary, and of the existence of non-binary and trans identities (exemplified in her charity for queer youth, Happy Hippie Foundation).
Cyrus' own androgynous look and her idea of her fluid gender identity help her make decisions — like cutting her hair short or growing out her body hair — that inspire genderqueer fans to be themselves. She embraces her non-traditional looks, and strives never to be a beauty brand spokesperson "unless they want a weed-smoking, liberal-ass freak."
5. When She Acknowledged That Hannah Montana Was A Negative Influence On Her Body Positivity
In her cover story interview for Marie Claire's September 2015 issue, Cyrus discussed the many downsides to her Disney Channel days. She talked about how growing up on a set and being made to look like someone she wasn't (i.e. someone hyper-feminine), was difficult and caused her some body dysmorphia. Clearly, Cyrus has come a long way in the self love department, now getting to be exactly who she's comfortable being.
6. Being Against Photo Retouching
Cyrus has been pretty clear about where she stands in terms of retouching photos (see her interview with Marie Claire), noting how damaging it is that we strive for "perfection." In her latest photoshoot with Terry Richardson, Cyrus posed with her arms up and pit hair exposed. When the photos were published, Cyrus took to Instagram and thanked Richardson for not photoshopping out her armpit hair "like some people," according to Billboard Magazine. She's very aware of the damaging effects of retouching and erasing parts of the body, and she's happy to put her body hair on full display to show other feminine people that hairy armpits are OK.
7. Taking Ownership Of Her Own Sexuality & Helping Redefine The Perception Of Women In Pop Culture
Cyrus's outfit choice for A-List events, like this year's MTV Video Music Awards, are transforming the way women are perceived or expected to be on the red carpet. She throws out all ideas of "tasteful" and "modest," and is unapologetically her own nudity-loving self at all public and formal events. By dressing this way, she is refusing to sexualize her exposed skin (unless, of course, she wants to).
Cyrus is one of the few heroes in pop-stardom today who is rejecting objectification not by covering up (which society seems to demand), but by completely taking agency over her own body and sexuality (aka "letting it all hang out"). Most importantly, she's not apologizing for it. Thanks to Cyrus, the way younger generations of feminine people perceive their bodies might be shifted from thoughts of shame and discomfort towards one of pride and protective ownership.
Images: Jimmy Kimmel Live/ABC