Miley Cyrus is looking back on body-shaming in her past with as much humor as she can muster. The pop star posted new photos of herself in a revealing bodysuit on Instagram this weekend, reflecting on the time she was mocked for twerking like a “turkey.” Cyrus clearly didn’t take it to heart.
Cyrus was promoting her upcoming headlining appearance at the Summerfest music festival on Saturday when she made the throwback reference. She posted a photo of herself in a black bodysuit with the caption: “Made ya look. Now buy tickets to Summerfest.” In a follow-up post, she showed the same outfit from the back, writing: “Y’all scarred me with that turkey butt s—.” She included a few playful animations including a speech bubble that said “gobble gobble,” a skeleton eating a roast turkey and a cartoonish bird with the banner “chicken butt.”
All of this referred to Cyrus’ infamous performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. At the time, Cyrus was in the middle of her transition from a wholesome Disney Channel star to a risque pop performer in her own right. She performed at the VMAs in a flesh-colored bikini, with small pigtails and part of her head shaved. She walked out into the crowd, twerking throughout her act with Robin Thicke.
Comparing Cyrus’ physique and posture to that of a turkey was not even the worst of the insults she received after that televised concert. An article in The Hollywood Reporter at the time called the whole thing “disturbing” and “cringe-worthy,” directly asking Cyrus to “stop” in a reference to her song “We Can’t Stop.”
Cyrus has reflected on this sad time often in the years that have followed. Last year, she talked about it directly with fans on Instagram Live, saying: “I basically went through two or three years where I wouldn’t wear shorts. All this s— because after the VMAs, where I had on my cute little nude bodysuit, everyone started comparing me to a turkey and putting a turkey in my outfit. I was just so skinny and pasty, and I was feeling so bad on myself that I did not wear a bikini for two years.”
“I was just starting to understand myself as an independent person, and it was just really, really hurtful to be so body-shamed like that,” Cyrus continued. “It really affected my personal life. I felt like having this persona of being the most confident girl on the planet was actually kind of fraud because I was so insecure inside. And when I was wearing my little leotards and things, I had on f—ing four pairs of tights because I was so insecure.”
Thankfully, Cyrus has regained some of her swagger in recent years and takes whatever criticism she gets now in stride. She will be headlining Summerfest this year, which runs from Thursday, Sept. 2 to Saturday, Sept. 18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.