Teen superstar Miley Cyrus - better known as Hannah Montana - apologized Sunday after Vanity Fair magazine published provocative photos of her.
"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed," Cyrus said in a statement her publicist released. "I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans, who I care so deeply about."
The 15-year-old Cyrus, daughter of country music star Billy Ray Cyrus, stars as an ordinary teenager with a double life as a rock star on the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana." The channel says "Hannah Montana" is the top-rated cable television show for children aged 6 to 14, reaching more than 164 million viewers around the world.
Cyrus completed a 70-date tour this year that sold out venues nationwide, starred in a movie that ranked number one in February and saw two albums rocket toward the top of the charts.
An article about her appears in the June issue of Vanity Fair, along with several photos. The article and photos already have been published on Vanity Fair's Web site.
One photo shows Cyrus topless but clutching a sheet to her chest, her bare back exposed, looking toward the camera over one shoulder.
A caption alongside the photo reads: "Um, was Cyrus -- or Disney -- at all anxious about this shot?" It then quotes Cyrus as saying: "No, I mean I had a blanket on. And I thought, 'This looks pretty, and really natural.' I think it's really artsy."
The photos were taken by Annie Leibovitz, a renowned photographer known for her portraits of celebrities.
The magazine refers to the "topless but demure portrait" as Leibovitz's idea and quotes Cyrus as saying, "It wasn't in a skanky way ... And you can't say no to Annie. She's so cute. She gets this puppy dog look and you're like, 'O.K.'"
A Disney Channel spokesman, Patti McTeague, said in a statement on Sunday that the photos were meant to sell magazines.