The Complicated Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus

The Complicated Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus
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Photo: Getty Images

Real talk: Who doesn’t love a walk down memory lane? We mean, our embarrassing as-hell high school yearbooks will forever be off limits, but we can’t deny the joy in digging through the major hair and makeup moments of celebrities who’ve been in the public eye since birth. And if anyone’s been in the spotlight for 10-plus years, it’s without a doubt Miley Cyrus. But unlike Zendaya or Emma Watson, Cyrus’s beauty evolution hasn’t exactly been an endless stream of on-point looks.

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Sure, Cyrus made her debut as a really-freaking-cute Disney Channel star. But in her misguided attempt to graduate from her squeaky-clean, Hannah Montana-image, she went through a problematic, three-year phase of cultural appropriation: She practically twerked her way through much of 2013, used black women as props in her music videos and live performances, and even wore dreadlocks to the 2015 MTV Movie Awards—and she has a massive span of red-carpet photos to show it.

miley cyrus 2015 mtv video music awards1 The Complicated Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus

Photo: Getty Images

Fast-forward to 2017, and the 24-year-old has officially ditched the cornrows for a wholesome, all-American façade, just in time for another album drop that’s decidedly (and conveniently) less wannabe-Missy Elliot and more, well, “American Idol”-pop. She’d told E! News last year that she was ready to connect with her audience “in a deeper way,” which we’ll assume means in the absence of illegal psychedelics. And in a July interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Cyrus explained, “[Acting erratically] became something that was expected of me. I didn’t want to show up to photo shoots and be the girl who would get my tits out and stick out my tongue.” She added: “Like, people will say, ‘You’ve changed.’ And that’s supposed to be derogatory. But you are supposed to change all the time.”

We get it: People grow and change constantly, but what’s missing from Cyrus’s interview is an acknowledgement of stealing and using another culture for profit, only to label it as a phase. And while Cyrus’s white privilege will allow her to move on—another problem in itself—not all of America has such a short-term memory. Put simply by an outraged Twitter user, “Miley Cyrus moving away from hip-hop is a nice example [of] cultural appropriation… black culture is used when it’s convenient.”

Whatever side of the fence you’re on, Cyrus’s beauty evolution has been a tricky one—see it all, ahead.

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: VH1 2006
December 2006

At the VH1 Big

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: MTV's "TRL"
June 2007

At MTV’s “TRL”

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Patrick McMullan Archives
November 2007

At the Patrick McMullan Archives

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 80th Annual Academy Awards
February 2008

At the 80th Annual Academy Awards

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: City of Hope Benefit
September 2008

At the City of Hope Benefit Concert

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Rock of Ages 2009
November 2009

At “Rock of Ages” On Broadway

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 82nd Annual Academy Awards
March 2010

At the 82nd Annual Academy Awards

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 21st Annual MuchMusic Video Awards
June 2010

At the 21st Annual MuchMusic Video Awards

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Patrick McMullan Archives 2010
November 2010

At the Patrick McMullan Archives

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” Lost Angeles Premiere
February 2011

At the “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” Lost Angeles Premiere

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: American Giving Awards
December 2011

At the American Giving Awards

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2011 CNN Heroes
December 2011

At the 2011 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
February 2012

At the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: VH1 2012
December 2012

At VH1 Divas

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2013 MTV Video Music Awards
August 2013

At the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 30th Annual Night of Stars
October 2013

At the 30th Annual Night of Stars Presented by The Fashion Group International

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2014 amfAR L.A. Inspiration Gala
October 2014

At the 2014 amfAR LA Inspiration Gala

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 23rd Elton John AIDs Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party
February 2015

At the 23rd Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Met Gala 2015
May 2015

At the 2015 Met Gala

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: MTV Video Music Awards
August 2015

At the MTV Video Music Awards

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: ONE and (RED)'s
December 2015

At ONE and (RED)’s “It Always Seems Impossible Until It Is Done”

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: “A Very Murray Christmas” New York Premiere
December 2015

At the “A Very Murray Christmas” New York Premiere

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: "Crisis in Six Scenes" Press Conference
September 2016

At the "Crisis in Six Scenes" Press Conference

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: SiriusXM
May 2017

At the SiriusXM Hits 1 Channel

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The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Elvis Duran Morning Show
May 2017

At “The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show”

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  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: VH1 2006
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: MTV's "TRL"
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Patrick McMullan Archives
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 80th Annual Academy Awards
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: City of Hope Benefit
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Rock of Ages 2009
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 82nd Annual Academy Awards
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 21st Annual MuchMusic Video Awards
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Patrick McMullan Archives 2010
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” Lost Angeles Premiere
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: American Giving Awards
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2011 CNN Heroes
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: VH1 2012
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2013 MTV Video Music Awards
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 30th Annual Night of Stars
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 2014 amfAR L.A. Inspiration Gala
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: 23rd Elton John AIDs Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Met Gala 2015
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: MTV Video Music Awards
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: ONE and (RED)'s
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: “A Very Murray Christmas” New York Premiere
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: "Crisis in Six Scenes" Press Conference
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: SiriusXM
  • The Beauty Evolution of Miley Cyrus: Elvis Duran Morning Show
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