Madonna is certainly no stranger to controversy. Over her four-decade-long career, the pop star has weathered a multitude of criticism, disdain, condemnation and disparagement from the media over everything from her fashion style and her dance moves to her behavior on talk shows. Despite the flak, the “Material Girl” always seemed to come out the other side swinging. However, after taking to the stage at an awards show in February 2023, her physical appearance has got the world talking – and it’s not just the media this time.

Pop icon Madonna has long defied the odds and broken boundaries throughout her career. She is not only a talented singer but an all-around performer, entertainer, actress and pop culture icon. Madonna has given us plenty of hits, defining the course of pop music and ultimately earning her the moniker, the “Queen of Pop.”

The legend was born Madonna Louise Ciccone on Aug. 16, 1958. Originally from Michigan, the aspiring star moved to New York City in the late 1970s to pursue a career in dance before finally finding success as a solo singer. The ‘80s were peppered with a plethora of No. 1 hits from the diva, including “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Like a Prayer” and “Vogue.” Her enduring popularity was bolstered by even more successful songs down the road. She saw a resurgence in the late ’90s with hits such as “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” “Ray of Light,” “Frozen,” “Music” and the duet with pop princess Britney Spears, “Me Against The Music.”

Besides serving rocking tunes, the icon has also been serving great looks. Known for her eclectic taste in fashion and penchant for reinvention, Madonna has pushed the envelope throughout the years. Though not all her fashion and beauty choices garnered favor, she always gained praise for her courage to take risks.

Madonna (2012), (Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

On Feb. 5, 2023, Madonna appeared on stage at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles to introduce Sam Smith and Kim Petras before their performance of “Unholy,” which went on to win the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award later that night. In her introduction, Madonna referenced her own divisive legacy.

“If they call you shocking, scandalous, problematic, provocative or dangerous, you are definitely onto something,” she said. She added: “’I am here to give thanks to all the rebels out here forging a new path and taking the heat for all of it. You guys need to know, all you trouble makers out there, you need to know that your fearlessness does not go unnoticed. You are seen. You are heard and most of all, you are appreciated.”

As usual, Madonna skipped the typical ball gown and opted for an almost all-black affair. She wore a tailored blazer over a crisp, white shirt and tie, and paired it with a long, black skirt with a high slit. She also wore fishnet gloves adorned with stacks of silver rings. Her hair was fashioned into four braids – two smaller ones hanging down the sides of her face and two bigger braids pinned up into circles on the side of her head. She kept her make-up relatively understated with thick lashes, matte lipstick and eyebrows dyed blonde.

However, it wasn’t her fashion and make-up choices that stole the spotlight that night. Instead, fans quickly took to social media to decry just how unrecognizable the “Holiday” singer’s face – with not a wrinkle in sight and puffed-up cheeks – looked. Many slammed the pop star for what they speculated was her overzealous attempt to look young through cosmetic procedures that resulted in the unwelcome transformation.

Madonna (2023), (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

On Twitter, viewers spared no sympathy for Madonna. Some likened her new look to a puppet from a horror movie, while others called her an “impostor.”

“What is happening to Madonna,” one tweet read alongside a photo of Madonna next to a picture of the Jigsaw puppet from the “Saw” movies.

Another viewer tweeted, “Letting yourself age gracefully is far more beautiful than plastic surgery,” above a photo comparison of the 64-year-old Madonna next to her own also 64-year-old mother.

“What has Madonna done to herself?” one tweet read, followed by an emoji of a circus clown.

“I really wish Madonna never touched her face. There really was no reason. She was going to age beautifully. She’s always been beautiful,” another person commented.

On Instagram, Madonna uploaded a clip of herself in her Grammys outfit holding a horseriding whip. However, her followers were not any kinder to her in the comments.

“She has changed in a bad way. She has fallen in on herself and I no longer recognize her as a force. She seems like she needs loved ones to intervene and help her… I used to adore Madonna, but she failed herself and her fans, she’s become a person who followed the trends set by losers. She should have aged with dignity, but chose to try and prove something she didn’t need to prove,” one follower wrote.

Many, in a similar vein, censured her for following today’s extreme beauty standards, while others called out the environment itself for creating such pressure on women to conform to them.

“I don’t hate Madonna for doing this to herself. I hate that we live in a society where she thinks she has to do this to herself,” a more sympathetic comment read.

Madonna (2023), (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

What are your thoughts on Madonna’s look at the Grammys? Do you feel like she’s merely conforming to today’s toxic beauty standards? Let us know, and don’t forget to pass this along to friends and family to get their take on it, too.

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