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Sinead O’Connor was widely known for her strong opinions on politics, women’s rights, and the music industry as a whole. Since her untimely death on July 26th at the age of 56, many stories from her past have resurfaced, including her infamous 1992 appearance on SNL and her long-standing feud with Madonna. Another story that gained new traction on social media this week was O’Connor’s 2013 letter to Miley Cyrus, which she published on her website.
In response to Cyrus stating in a Rolling Stone interview that she was inspired by O’Connor’s iconic visuals for “Nothing Compares 2 U” in her music video for “Wrecking Ball,” O’Connor wrote a letter to Cyrus “in the spirit of motherliness and with love.” She expressed concern for Cyrus, stating that it was not “cool” to be naked and licking sledgehammers in her videos and that she was being exploited by the music industry.
O’Connor warned her that allowing herself to be pimped out would only bring harm in the long run. She emphasized that it was not empowering for Cyrus or any young woman to value themselves more for their sexual appeal than their talent. O’Connor admitted that she was somewhat of a role model for Cyrus and encouraged her to listen closely to her advice.
She declared that the music industry did not care about Cyrus or any other artist and would use and exploit them for their own gain. O’Connor also stressed that the men ogling Cyrus did not actually care about her; lust does not equate to genuine love. She urged Cyrus to change her perspective and to care for and protect herself, as she believed Cyrus did not value herself enough.
O’Connor deemed the world of showbiz as one that only saw women for their bodies and sexual appeal, and she advised Cyrus not to be fooled or under any illusions. The industry, including magazines, wanted to profit from Cyrus’s youth and beauty, but they did not genuinely care about her. O’Connor urged Cyrus to recognize her own worth and not allow the music industry to turn her into a prostitute or a fool.
She also addressed Cyrus’s claim that her look was based on O’Connor’s, explaining that she deliberately chose her appearance to be judged on her talent rather than her looks. O’Connor emphasized the importance of real empowerment, which she believed involved not exploiting one’s body or sexuality for the sake of making money. She urged Cyrus to say no to any requests that would require her to prostitute herself and to understand that her body was for her and her boyfriend, not for the public or record executives.
O’Connor concluded the letter by reminding Cyrus of the impact she had as a female artist and the responsibility she had to send healthier messages to other women. She believed that women should be valued for more than their sexuality and emphasized that they were not just objects of desire. O’Connor urged Cyrus to surround herself with people who genuinely cared for her and to heed the advice of those who expressed alarm.