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Used To Be Young: a throwback to Miley Cyrus’ past as a Disney star

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

With a 22-year-old career, Miley Ray Cyrus became known worldwide thankfully to her Disney character Hannah Montana. Being one of the most iconic artists in the music industry, the 30-year-old artist grew up in the spotlight and managed to keep her career on the rise with her admirable evolution, going from innocent girl to rebellious singer.

The series, which ended in 2011, was titled as Hannah Montana Forever and had four seasons. When her contract with Disney Channel was over, Miley wanted to completely let go of her character’s image.

As an example of artistic metamorphosis embodiment, Used to be Young is a nostalgic dive into this time in her life and portrays her journey from Disney girl to her current identity.

You tell me time has done changed me

That’s fine, I’ve had a good run

I know I used to be crazy

That’s ’cause I used to be young

Used To Be Young – Miley Cyrus

Disney Channel

Since its foundation in 1983, the second largest media conglomerate of the world has set a standard of behavior for its artists and has placed greater demands on girls to reinforce the fairy tale style.

The TV broadcaster created original series and was also responsible for promoting child actors and to ensure that  the films conveyed a feeling of purity and followed the innocent line of princesses.In addition, the teenagers hired by the channel were prohibited from getting involved in controversial situations, even though their lives were not related to the character, so that fans would have a role model.

With over 600 million viewers worldwide, the series has been a huge success since its first season, making the singer the youngest artist to have four albums in the Top 1 on Billboard at just 16 years old.

the best of both worlds

The constant misunderstanding between the actress and the character was giant, because the fans couldn’t  distinguish between fiction and reality. Therefore, everything Miley did in her personal life was judged based on the image she had on the program.

The media and Disney itself also made the process harder, due to interviews, public appearances and shows that were done as if she lived 24 hours a day as Hannah Montana.

Furthermore, all advertisements were made with the character’s costume, meaning that the actress did not disengage from the Disney character.

According to an interview with CBS in 2017, Miley said that now that she’s older, she realizes that it was too difficult for a child:

 “I think the reason people loved Hannah Montana is because it felt very real. And that’s because I was there behind it. I think sometimes people forget that. That’s probably why I’m a little wrong today. I define this as something that was very bad for my psyche as an adult.”

CBS Interview with Miley Cyrus

crises between the artist and disney

In 2008, the actress was photographed by Vanity Fair. She  seemed to be naked, only wearing  a transparent scarf. The photoshoot created a huge problem for Disney because Miley was just a 15 year-old-girl. The photos were considered inappropriate for a young woman at her age and the magazine was considered a threat to the franchise.

The following year, Miley performed at the Teen Choice Awards with the song “Party In the USA”, but received negative reviews when she performed a pole dance on stage. The bad repercussion ended up with her being voted as the worst influence of the year.

In 2010, the singer recorded the final season of the series, which would only be streamed in 2011. Then, she recorded the third album of her career that was not linked to the character, named Can’t be Tamed. The song it’s like a cry of fury in the verses:  I can’t be tamed / I can’t be changed/ I can’t be tamed.

bye bye, hannah montana

After the end of the program, at the age of 21, the singer changed record labels and completely transformed her look, cutting her hair short and dying it platinum blonde. Furthermore, she began to have more freedom to dress however she wanted. 

Right after the release of “Wrecking Ball”, Miley began to talk more about female empowerment and sexuality, breaking the Disney behavior pattern.

In her VMA performance, the singer was highly criticized for doing a provocative, sexual dance with a sensual costume. Despite the negative comments, she managed to reinvent herself and put an end to her days as Hannah Montana.

Ex-marijuana user, Miley Cyrus no longer tried to hide herself in interviews or during performances, as her songs made references to drugs and sex.

In 2020, with the Columbia Records label, the singer seemed to have found herself very much in rock, releasing the acclaimed album Plastic Hearts, containing singles such as: “Nothing Else Matter” and “Heart of Glass”.

Currently, with the album Endless Summer Vacation, Miley brought more conceptual songs. It represents the mixture of all the best sounds she has ever experienced and in her words the album can be called Cinderella’s shoe, because it fits her perfectly.


The article above was edited by Larissa Buzon.

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Maria Luiza Malafaia

Casper Libero '26

Hello, I'm Malu :) Journalism student at Cásper Líbero, who loves to write, learn and listen other people's stories.