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At the 2014 VMAs, Miley Cyrus won Video of the Year for “Wrecking Ball” and shocked audiences once again — by not even speaking. Instead, she let Jesse, a 22-year-old homeless man, accept on her behalf and call attention to the millions of homeless youth in the U.S. “I’ve been an extra in your movies, I’ve been an extra in your lives,” he said, as she watched on in tears. “Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless youth in America.”
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Miley Cyrus founded The Happy Hippie Foundation in 2015 to raise awareness about issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and address homelessness head-on. “Pointless judgment and its effects are unfortunately something that is way too common,” she said at the time. “I want to use my voice as a megaphone to young people everywhere and encourage human evolution.”
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In 2015, RuPaul’s Drag Race was on the rise, but not yet the culture phenomenon it is today. So when Miley Cyrus brought out 30 drag queens, burlesque performers, and trans activists for her surprise performance of “Dooo It!” at the 2015 VMAs, it was an instant win for drag and LGBTQ+ representation.
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In November 2018, Miley Cyrus and her then-boyfriend Liam Hemsworth’s home burnt down in the Malibu wildfires, with Hemsworth just managing to save their animals. But rather than only grieve their loss, they donated $500,000 to the Malibu Foundation to help repair the community as a whole.
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At the beginning of quarantine, Miley Cyrus and her then-boyfriend Cody Simpson masked up and delivered hundreds of tacos to healthcare workers who were treating coronavirus patients at overfull Los Angeles hospitals. “So grateful for these true legends of our time dedicating their lives to battling this pandemic,” Simpson wrote in an Instagram post.
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On her quarantine Instagram Live talk show Bright Minded, Cyrus got candid with Demi Lovato about the insecurities she dealt with after her iconic 2013 VMAs performance, which inspired various memes poking fun at her body. Fans appreciated her openness. “I basically went through two or three years where I wouldn’t wear shorts,” she said. “I stopped wearing skirts onstage, all this sh*t, because after the VMAs, and I had on my cute little new bodysuit, everyone started comparing me to a turkey and putting a turkey in my outfit because I was so skinny and so pasty.”
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In June 2021, Miley Cyrus posted an Instagram Story video wearing a black bodysuit that revealed her bare bottom, which led her to poke fun at the now-infamous flesh-colored bodysuit she wore at the 2013 VMA. “Ya’ll scarred me w that turkey butt sh*t,” she wrote, complete with a “gobble gobble” animation. Try making a turkey joke now.
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“The Climb” has soundtracked all of the high school graduations, devastating moments, and major milestones in our lives. Like a truly great therapist, Miley Cyrus always performs the song when it’s needed most, like at the March For Our Lives or her first post-pandemic concert. Simply put, it’s one of the most inspirational songs of our time, and it should have won Best Original Song at the Oscars.