Selena Gomez won the award for Favorite Female Artist in pop/rock at Sunday night’s American Music Awards, but it was her honest and raw acceptance speech that wowed fans.
During her speech, the 24-year-old singer opened up movingly about the pressures of fame.
“In 2014, this stage was actually the first time that I was authentically 100 percent honest with all of you,” she said, referencing her teary AMA performance of “The Heart Wants What It Wants.” “I think it’s safe to say that most of you know a lot of my life, whether I liked it or not, and I had to stop. I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”
She continued: “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here [puts hand over heart]. I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore. All I can say from the bottom of my heart is that I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to share what I love every single day with people that I love. … But if you are broken, you do not have to stay broken. If that’s anything, whether you respect me or not, that’s one thing you should know about me, is that I care about people. Thank you so much for this. This is for you.”
Her remarks were especially poignant, given that this was Gomez’s first public appearance since she announced in late August that she would be taking a professional break due to mental health issues tied to her lupus.
“As many of you know, around a year ago I revealed that I have lupus, an illness that can affect people in different ways,” she told People, at the time. “I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks, and depression can be side-effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges.”
“I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off,” she continued. “Thank you to all my fans for your support. You know how special you are to me, but I need to face this head on to ensure I am doing everything possible to be my best. I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues.”
Fans immediately responded on social media after Gomez’s most recent remarks.
Selena Gomez’s speech is everything ???????? https://t.co/GxLD7lPp72
— Common White Girl (@girlposts) November 21, 2016
— Jasmine ???? (@TattedChanel) November 21, 2016
— OCEANUP (@OCEANUP) November 21, 2016
Even Lady Gaga teared up in the audience during the speech — but what made it so impactful? “It’s wonderful, and what’s so powerful about her speech is that it’s such a stark contrast to what ‘everyone else’ is putting out there,” Dr. Jocelyn Charnas, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan, tells Yahoo Beauty. “There is an epidemic right now fueled by social media that paints a picture of perfection, that you must be perfect.”
This sets an unrealistic expectation of how life is supposed to be and what people are supposed to want, Charnas says. As a result, people automatically feel that they can’t measure up. “What’s so powerful is that Selena was speaking out to the opposite of that,” she says. “It’s such an important message because it says that happiness on the inside is what matters more. Young women in particular aren’t hearing that enough.”
Unfortunately, Gomez isn’t alone in feeling pressure to look and act a certain way. If you find that you’re feeling “broken inside” as well, Charnas recommends talking to someone you trust about it. “The idea of reaching out to a mental health professional can be overwhelming to some people,” she says, noting that it’s a good idea to talk to a teacher, family member, coach, or trusted confidante to work through your feelings. “The worst thing you can do in the face of this is to internalize it.”
Charnas applauds Gomez’s honesty. “It’s really important and admirable when young people use their fame as a platform to express a positive message and show the more difficult and complicated parts of themselves,” she says. “It takes a lot of courage.”