Following O’Connor’s death in July aged 56, many fans remembered the open letter penned by O’Connor to Cyrus.
The letter addressed the then-recent release of the music video for Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”, in which she is seen swinging on a demolition ball while nude.
After Cyrus said that she’d been inspired by O’Connor’s accompanying visuals for her 1990 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U”, O’Connor replied to the then-20-year-old “in the spirit of motherliness and with love”.
She told Cyrus that it wasn’t “‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos”, adding that she is being “pimped” by the music industry.
You can read the full letter here.
Cyrus has now addressed the letter, as well as her reaction at the time, in new ABC documentary Endless Summer Vacation: Continued (Backyard Sessions).
“At the time when I made ‘Wrecking Ball’, I was expecting for there to be controversy and backlash, but I don’t think I expected other women to put me down or turn on me, especially women that had been in my position before,” the 30-year-old recalled.
“So this is when I had received an open letter from Sinéad O’Connor, and I had no idea about the fragile mental state that she was in.”
At the time, Cyrus responded by making fun of old tweets sent by O’Connor during a period of ill mental health. She compared the singer to former Nickelodeon child star Amanda Bynes, who was also struggling mentally.
O’Connor tweeted back that Cyrus was “mocking myself and Amanda Bynes for having suffered with mental health issues and for having sought help”, adding: “It is not acceptable to mock any person for having suffered.”
Growing emotional as she discussed her response in the documentary, the former Disney Channel star continued: “I was also only 20 years old. So I could really only wrap my head around mental illness so much and all that I saw was that another woman had told me that this idea was not my idea.
“Even if I was convinced that it was, it was still just men in power’s idea of me and they had manipulated me to believe that it was my own idea when it never really was. And it was. And it is. And I still love it.”
Cyrus said that she had “been judged for so long for my own choices that I was just exhausted”, but finally felt with “Wrecking Ball” that she was making “my own choices and my own decisions”.
“To have that taken away from me deeply upset me,” she concluded, before adding: “God bless Sinéad O’Connor for real, in all seriousness.”
Cyrus then performs her song “Wonder Woman”, with the words: “Dedicated to Sinead O’Connor” written on the screen.