But Miley found herself in some seriously hot water in early 2009 after posting this photograph to her website. In the shot, she, her then-boyfriend Justin Gaston, and a group of friends appear to be mocking Asian people.
In a statement to TMZ, the Organization of Chinese Americans deemed the photograph “offensive” to the Asian community, adding, “The inclusion of an Asian Pacific American individual in the photo does not make it acceptable.”
China then one-upped the OCA by banning the actress and singer from the world’s most populous country. In a statement (via NME), Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi said, “Miss Cyrus has made it clear she is no friend of China or anyone of East Asian descent. We have no interest in further polluting our children’s minds with her American ignorance.”
Taking the defensive on her website, Miley wrote (via TMZ), “In NO way was I making fun of any ethnicity! I was simply making a goofy face. When did that become newsworthy? It seems someone is trying to make something out of nothing to me. If that would of been anyone else, it would of been overlooked! I definitely feel like the press is trying to make me out as the new 'BAD GIRL'!”
In an apparent attempt to drown the incident in cuteness, she ended the non-apology with a smiley face.
A publicist must have intervened soon after, because Miley issued a true mea culpa a few days later (via TMZ), writing, “I want to thank all of my fans for their support not only this week, but always! I really wanted to stress how sorry I am if the photo of me with my friends offended anyone. I have learned a valuable lesson from this and know that sometimes my actions can be unintentionally hurtful.”