Cyrus has been acting since she was 13 years old
Teenage Disney star Miley Cyrus has defended a photo in which she is making a slant-eyed gesture, claiming she was "simply making a goofy face".
The leaked shot of the 16-year-old singer and actress was taken with a group of friends, one of whom is Asian.
The Organisation of Chinese Americans criticised Cyrus for setting "a terrible example for her young fans".
But in a blog entry she said: "In no way was I making fun of any ethnicity. I was simply making a goofy face."
Cyrus said she was sorry if people "looked at those pictures and took them wrong and out of context", but stopped short of apologising.
The star of the Disney channel's hit show Hannah Montana accused the media of blowing the photo out of proportion.
She said: "It seems someone is trying to make something out of nothing to me. If that would have been anyone else, it would have been overlooked.
"I definitely feel like the press is trying to make me out as the new 'bad girl'!"
Cyrus, who has recorded two chart topping pop albums and was nominated for a Golden Globe for the title track to the animated movie Bolt, is estimated to have earned $25m (£17m) in 2008.
She added: "I feel like now that Britney [Spears] is back on top of her game again, they need someone to pick on. Lucky me!"
In 2008, several shots of Cyrus sparked outrage in the US as they showed the then 15-year-old wrapped in a sheet with a bare back and shoulders.