"It was just really, really hurtful to be so body-shamed like that," Miley Cyrus said

Miley Cyrus‘ may have seemed the vision of confidence as she twerked in a nude bikini alongside Robin Thicke during their controversial performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, but that self-assurance quickly turned to insecurity when the singer saw some of the negative comments critics were making about her body on the Internet.

In Instagram Live chat on Tuesday, the former Disney Channel star revealed she struggled with body image issues after the performance and adjusted her wardrobe accordingly.

“I basically went through two or three years where I wouldn’t wear shorts. I stopped wearing skirts on stage, all this s— because after the VMAs and I had on my cute little nude bodysuit, everyone started comparing me to a turkey and putting a turkey in my outfit,” Cyrus said. “I was just so skinny and so pasty and they kept putting me next to this turkey, and I was feeling so bad on myself that I did not wear a bikini for like two years.”

“No one thought that that would’ve ever made me feel some type of way,” Cyrus added. “It was just really, really hurtful to be so body-shamed like that. And it really affected me in my personal life.”

The star went on to say that the negativity also left her struggling with her public image.

“I think what was so hard about it was my brand has always been about being so unapologetically myself and being confident, and the worse thing that I would feel like I would be to my fans is lying or a fraud,” she said. “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 on the inside that in my personal life I wasn’t even wearing bathing suits and shorts. And when I was wearing like my little leotards and things, I had on f—ing four pairs of tights because I was so insecure.”

Miley Cyrus
Robin Thick and Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMAs
| Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Cyrus was speaking to Demi Lovato on Tuesday’s Instagram Live — part of the former’s new Bright Minded: Live with Miley, an afternoon talk show airing every day this week.

Lovato, 27, has dealt with her fair share of body image issues, which led to the singer’s ongoing battle with an eating disorder. She told Cyrus that she also would wear multiple pairs of tights, but noted the shame she felt ultimately inspired her to do “bigger” things with her platform.

“I kind of made a vow to myself that when I get older I just wanna represent what I didn’t have, and I want to be that for somebody,” Lovato said. “I’ve talked about my struggles with food and stuff. And yeah, I’m glad that I did because it’s brought me and my fans closer. It … I feel like, helped young people learn to accept their bodies when it starts to change.”

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus
| Credit: Denise Truscello/Getty Images

Back in March 2018, Cyrus looked back at her 2013 VMAs appearance, saying that the performance broke her child star image and helped her grow up.

“Not only was culture changed, but my life and career were changed forever,” she said in an interview with Wonderland magazine. “It inspired me to use my platform for something much bigger. If the world is going to focus on me and what I am doing, then what I am doing should be impactful and it should be great.”

In the intervening years, Cyrus has become a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ and homeless communities through her Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to fight “injustice for vulnerable populations.” The year after her provocative duet with Thicke, she arrived at the 2014 VMAs with a young homeless man named Jesse Helt, transforming a red carpet walk into a spotlight on American youth shelters.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t just the 2013 VMAs performance that affected Cyrus’ opinion of her body. She previously has said that her time playing the lead character in Disney’s Hannah Montana gave her body and self-confidence issues.

“From the time I was 11, it was, ‘You’re a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing,’” Cyrus told Marie Claire in 2015. “Meanwhile, I’m this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. It was like Toddlers & Tiaras. I had f—— flippers.”

Cyrus added that Hannah Montana led to her warped views on “what a girl is supposed to be.”

“I was made to look like someone that I wasn’t, which probably caused some body dysmorphia, because I had been made pretty every day for so long,” she said. “And then when I wasn’t on that show, it was like, ‘Who the f— am I?’ “