Selena Gomez spoke candidly to Jennifer Chia of Allure about the evolution of her career and her new cosmetic line, Rare Beauty. The 28-year-old singer/actress/entrepreneur also opened up about her mental health after revealing she’s bipolar earlier this year. Gomez rose to fame after she was cast in Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place at 13 and since then she’s endured the scrutiny of media attention and pressures of being a public figure.
She recalls being criticized for her weight despite her openness about being diagnosed with lupus and having had a kidney transplant. ” I was dealing with a lot of medical problems, so I fluctuated in weight a lot,” she said.” It was just unfair for someone to handle.” Despite her age, she also felt the pressures of having to be sexy with the release of Revival in 2015 when she was 23.
“I just did things that weren’t really me,” Gomez said. “There was pressure to seem more adult on my album, Revival. [I felt] the need to show skin … I really don’t think I was [that] person.” The Revival album cover was a black and white nude photo with her legs crossed and her hair down.
The “Lose You to Love Me” singer – who revealed she’s bipolar in April – shared how she’s coping after the diagnosis. In a culture that still stigmatizes mental illness, her openness and honesty is refreshing. “I have always had so many different emotions and I didn’t know how to control them quite well. It was complicated. But I think I’m happy to understand it,” she said. “Once I did find out more about who I was, I was proud. I also felt comfortable knowing that I wasn’t alone, and I was going to get through it. So I will always be passionate about that. It’s something I will continue to talk about.”
Her passion for being an advocate for immigrants in the U.S. has also influenced her work as she considers the Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented, for which she was an executive producer, one of the highest accomplishments of her career. Ahead of its Oct. 2019 release she wrote an op-ed for Time magazine where she shared that her aunt had crossed the border into the U.S. hidden in the back of a truck in the 1970s and that her grandparents came afterward. Her father was born in the Texas and she’s named after the beloved Queen of Tejano Music Selena Quintanilla so her ties to her Mexican roots are evidently strong. “But immigration goes beyond politics and headlines. It is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives,” she wrote.
The docuseries followed eight families as they faced potential deportation with stories ranging from harrowing to hopeful. “It made me mad. I knew I related to that in so many ways. A lot of my family were immigrants, and created lives for themselves here,” Gomez said. “I’m just once removed from being an [immigrant]. I’m proud of that side of who I am. But seeing what happened [to the families in the documentary], I just felt helpless — completely disgusted and frustrated — and I wanted to do something that would make people uncomfortable, that would force people to watch something that maybe they just don’t want to see, or don’t understand.”