The Beautiful Evolution of Miley Cyrus

To the surprise of many—including myself—Miley Cyrus made news this week for doing something very un-Miley. Or, rather, “un-Miley” by the standards of what the media has come to expect from the twerking pop princess.

On Sunday, Miley won Video of the Year at the VMAs for “Wrecking Ball.” Shocking viewers worldwide, a 22-year-old man named Jesse Helt took to the stage to accept the award on Miley’s behalf.

Jaws dropped around the world as Helt took his place on stage, delivering a powerful speech about youth homelessness.

“I am accepting this award on behalf of 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now,” Helt said. “I know this because I am one of these people. I’ve cleaned your hotel rooms, I’ve been an extra in your movies, I’ve been an extra in your life.”

I was caught off guard. Did she really do that? Where’s the controversy? Where’s the Miley we’ve come to know? This was such a wonderful, splendid surprise.

She later posted a video to her Facebook page in support of My Friend’s Place, a Hollywood homeless center for young people. She asked fans to donate to the cause, incentivizing it by including a raffle to win an exclusive VIP experience at her September concert in Rio de Janeiro. The whole thing seemed so selfless, so adult.

Yes, it was just last year that she was grinding on Robin Thicke’s leg (and being unreasonably shamed for it). Yes, it was only recently that she received heaps of criticism for her “We Can’t Stop” music video. Yet, here she is, devoting her acceptance speech to the cause of youth homelessness. There was no controversy, just a good cause.

She was only 13-years-old when she first came into the public spotlight, appearing in Hannah Montana and Big Fish. I cannot even begin to imagine how challenging it must be to have to grow up publicly, millions of people watching and scrutinizing your every move. Why have we been so hard on her? Don’t we remember what it was like being awkward teens trying to find ourselves?

It has been truly special to watch Miley grow and evolve over the years, coming to terms with herself, and figuring out who she really is. Over the past year, she has taken the reins of her career and shifted her reputation from that of an out-of-control former Disney star to that of a business-savvy entertainment professional and human being. Sunday night revealed the extent of her maturity after a long year in the public eye.

Will she stumble along the way? Absolutely. She’s human, and that means she’ll struggle. It’s safe to say that her days of controversy are not 100 percent behind her, and that’s perfectly fine. We all have our struggles, and none of us is perfect. We’ve all been there in our own way, and I think a lot of people would agree when I say, welcome to the other side, Miley. It’s good to see you’ve made it.

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