Fashion Profile: Miley Cyrus at the 2015 VMAs

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Landmark Cinemas Country Hills

I look forward to the MTV VMAs every year as it wraps up the summer and gives us a reason to clean our pallets for the fall. The show is a bit of a free-for-all. It can get messy. It’s so entertaining. Plus, from a style-watch perspective, no real spoilers here, people tend to dress like assholes. At the VMAs, celebrities dress to be seen, or if they do not, they learn on the tabloids come Monday, that they don’t exist. After the show is done and the coverage cools down, so does the weather. Goodbye summer.

As the event date came closer and closer, I began to ponder the potential schnaningans for Sunday. With Miley Cyrus hosting I confidently assumed some level of nudity would be present. She tends to push gender and sexuality buttons as much as she can and wear as little as possible. Next I considered this sartorial hypothesis: can lack of clothing be considered fashionable? Can nudity be stylish?

I appreciate both the invisible and the often visible middle finger that Cyrus throws to the public when they try to censor her look. She does not go quietly. Over the past few years she has made a tremendous effort in making "nudity" synonymous with "Cyrus" when you think of her. At this point it’s more surprising if she dresses modestly.

When Jimmy Kimmel skirted around the question about why she chooses to do this, she answered that it helps to disarm people. The mutual discomfort gives her and whomever she is conversing with a common ground. She further says to Kimmel that it’s a, “conversation icebreaker.” 

Of course there are other ways to break the ice, but it’s more strategic than that. I think a part of the reason she dresses the way she does is to ensure she is on the best (and worst) dressed lists. Every event she attends there is coverage on what she did, and didn’t, wear. We can’t stop clicking, reading and following. As much as some may say her way of putting herself together is vile, she’s on our minds and lips.

I’d also like to give her a little credit in challenging the historical sexual abuse of women’s bodies. Often women are taught to cover their bodies. Women are taught to be modest. When you dig deeper, often that is rooted in the idea that women should be ashamed of their bodies. Further, sex for women has sometimes been taught to be "dirty" and is in service only to men. It’s crazy to me that this world, in 2015, can still convince us to use women’s own bodies against them.

There appears to be an invisible line between being beautiful for others but not proud, or boastful, of your own beauty. As in, if others call you beautiful, that’s okay, but don’t you dare feel beautiful all on your own let alone be caught naked. Rather we can demonize, scandalize and profit immensely over women’s nakedness with or without her consent. I think Cyrus is challenging these notions, at least by refusing to let others monetize from her. As she emphasized Sunday night, she’ll do it before you can. She holds the power and potential financial gains of her own body. You can’t try to hurt her in that way. That’s a pretty good example of a shrewd business and personal branding sense if you ask me.

Finally, by being in everyone’s face, she has a platform to shift the conversation and talk about her philanthropic efforts with homeless LGTBQ+ youth. She’s often nearly naked but she’s also has an agenda to make a positive difference with her earned spotlight.

Getting back to the hypothesis while I find her activism stylish, her fashion choices are not. They’re just stunting costumes made by famous people. That’s okay too. But nudity, to me, is not stylish. It’s nakedness. No different than my boredom with the naked dresses at Met Gala. Naked is an easy draw. It’s too lazy for me. You are choosing to not put on clothes which is unfathomable to me. Be creative with the clothes you choose to put on rather than taking them all off. However, I am fully aware that my taste is mine alone. Different strokes for different folks, right?

I say, go for it, Miley. Keep doing it for yourself and I'll support that wholeheartedly.

For coverage of this year's VMA 2015 looks, check out The New York Times