During her VMAs performance, Miley Cyrus showed off her new tattoo — an emotional lyric from the Pixies' song "The Thing" inked on her bicep — that was seemingly inspired by her split from Liam Hemsworth
The 26-year-old singer had a breakover moment during her 2019 MTV VMAs performance, wearing an LBD, an edgy wet hair style and layers of jewelry. Even more impactful and telling of her mood was the new tattoo she got on inked on her left bicep, which appears to be a direct reference to her separation from Hemsworth after less than a year of marriage.
“My head was feeling scared, but my heart was feeling free,” reads the tattoo — a lyric from the Pixies’ song “The Thing” — which was done by celebrity tattoo artist Winter Stone.
Cyrus performed her new breakup ballad “Slide Away” for the first time during Monday’s music award show.
Earlier this month, a rep for Cyrus and Hemsworth confirmed the couple’s split, which came after less than one year of marriage.
“Liam and Miley have agreed to separate at this time,” began a statement from the couple’s rep, exclusively obtained by PEOPLE on Aug. 10. “Ever-evolving, changing as partners and individuals, they have decided this is what’s best while they both focus on themselves and careers. They still remain dedicated parents to all of their animals they share while lovingly taking this time apart. Please respect their process and privacy.”
Check out PEOPLE’s full MTV VMAs coverage to get the latest news on one of music’s biggest nights.
When their split became public, Cyrus was on an Italian getaway where she was spotted kissing Kaitlynn Carter, 30, who had recently announced her split from husband, The Hills star Brody Jenner, whom she married in 2018.
Since their return from Italy, a source told PEOPLE that the newly single ladies are “staying together” in Los Angeles.
“Miley is very close with Kaitlynn. It’s romantic, but also a friendship,” the insider said. “They are both going through similar stuff right now and are bonding over it.”
Kaitlynn was also spotted backstage at the VMAs supporting Cyrus during her performance.
Cyrus also turned to social media to deny rumors that she had cheated on Hemsworth.
“I can admit to a lot of things but I refuse to admit that my marriage ended because of cheating. Liam and I have been together for a decade. I’ve said it before & it remains true, I love Liam and always will,” she wrote in along, impassioned note shared to her Instagram and on Twitter.
Cyrus added: “At this point I had to make a healthy decision for myself to leave a previous life behind. I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time. You can say I am a twerking, pot smoking, foul mouthed hillbilly but I am not a liar. I am proud to say, I am simply in a different place from where i was when I was younger.”
As for Hemsworth, the Australian actor, 29, filed for divorce on Wednesday citing “irreconcilable differences.”
A week before filing, Hemsworth broke his silence on Instagram, posting a photo of a sunset with the caption: “Just a quick note to say that Miley and I have recently separated and I wish her nothing but health and happiness going forward.”
The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards will air live from Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Monday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. ET.