Michael Thompson for ELLE
Miley Cyrus isn't the squeaky clean teen she used to be—but isn't that what happens when you grow up? The 21-year-old singer covers Elle's Women in Music issue, where she opens up about her former fiancé, Liam Hemsworth, and revamping her image after leaving Disney Channel's Hannah Montana.
"You know, I'm really thankful that I started on Disney. I got the most intense training," she says. "There's times where I wish I could have just started as a new artist, but the world has kind of allowed me to do that."
While some of her peers struggled to create new identities, Cyrus had the opposite experience.
"I feel really lucky—a lot of kid stars get all crazy or stuck in what they were, so they can't actually become what they're meant to be," the single pop star explains. "When I went through a really intense breakup—you know, I was engaged—and when I was with him or when I was on Disney, the thing that gave me the most anxiety was not knowing what to do with myself when Disney wasn't there to carry me anymore or if I didn't have him. And now I'm free of both of those things, and I'm fine. Like, I lay in bed at night by myself and I'm totally okay, and that's so much stronger than the person three years ago, who would have thought they would have died if they didn't have a boyfriend."