The photo, which saw a then 15-year-old Cyrus draped in a white sheet, was met with criticism by both the media and parents of her young fans.
In the wake of the backlash, the Disney Channel denounced the cover in a statement claiming that a “situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines”.
However, Vanity Fair responded to the statement and countered Disney’s claim, writing: “Miley’s parents and/or minders were on the set all day.
“Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley.”
Even Cyrus issued an apology at the time due to the furore, but recanted it a decade later.
Now in an episode of her Used To Be Young series on TikTok, which looks back on her biggest career moments, Cyrus addressed the backlash and went on to praise Leibovitz.
The Mountain hitmaker, 30, recalled: “Everyone knows the controversy of the photo, but they don’t really know the behind-the-scenes, which is always much more meaningful.
“My little sister Noah was sitting on Annie’s lap and actually pushing the button of the camera taking the pictures.
“My family was on set, and this was the first time I ever wore red lipstick. Pati Dubroff, who did my make-up, thought that it would be another element that would divide me from Hannah Montana.
“This image of me is a complete opposite of the bubblegum pop star that I had been known for being… and that’s what was so upsetting [to people].
“But really brilliant choices looking back now, from those people.”
Her comments come after she shared a shocking insight into the 12 and 13-hour days she worked as an in-demand child star.