Madonna has spoken out against criticism of her appearance after presenting at the Grammy Awards Sunday night. In her latest Instagram post, the multi-award-winning singer lamented being “caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in,” after a close-up photo of her face went viral online and sparked a torrent of negative comments.
The image was taken while Madonna was introducing Kim Petras and Sam Smith’s performance of “Unholy.” (Smith identifies as nonbinary, while Petras became the world’s first openly transgender woman to perform at the event.) Madonna called it a “history making moment,” adding: “Instead of focusing on what I said in my speech which was about giving thanks for the fearlessness of artists like Sam and Kim — many people chose to only talk about close-up photos of me taken with a long lens camera by a press photographer that would distort anyone’s face!”
Madonna’s Instagram page was flooded with comments calling her scary, unrecognizable and denouncing her supposed “obsession with plastic surgery” — though the singer has never publicly addressed rumors of cosmetic enhancements. The British television host Piers Morgan, who is often criticized for making hateful and sexist comments, dedicated a segment to the viral photo on his Talk TV show, “Piers Morgan Uncensored.”
The 64-year-old musician clapped back at the remarks, saying in her Instagram post that the world “refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45.”
Being thrown into the spotlight over a controversial look is familiar territory for Madonna. But the singer, who famously wore a satin slip dress in the 1989 music video for “Like a Prayer” and a Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra during her 1990 Blond Ambition world tour, has seemingly never been deterred by public opinion.
“I have never apologized for any of the creative choices I have made nor the way that I look or dress and I’m not going to start,” she wrote in the post. “I have been degraded by the media since the beginning of my career but I understand that this is all a test and I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come.”