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Selena Gomez in a white suit with black lapels on the cover of Billboard. photo: Courtesy
When a child star leaves the comfort of Disney’s protection, starts dating the “bad boy” of pop music, and then mysteriously disappears from the public eye for some time, the assumption always is that this person’s struggling with a substance abuse problem. But when Selena Gomez took a hiatus in 2013 and this conclusion was drawn, it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. In a Billboard cover story pegged to the release of her new album on Friday, the 23-year-old revealed that she was diagnosed with lupus and underwent medical treatment during her short stint out of the spotlight. “That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke,“ she shared. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re a**holes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”
She’s finally at that place, but it took some time — and overcoming some other obstacles as well — to get there. A few months back, the Spring Breakers actress was harassed on her Instagram with commenters calling her fat. "I was in a bikini and got publicly ripped for being overweight,” Gomez revealed. "That was the first time I’d experienced body shaming like that. I believed some of the words they were saying. When somebody else has your self-esteem in their hands …” In fact, these harsh words, and those thrown out by plenty of others (even to her face, not just behind the veil of social media), sent her into therapy. The professional help is what eventually got her to the place where she could pose naked for Revival’s cover art.
Taylor Swift and her girl squad also played a part in rehabilitating the singer. "Taylor makes me feel empowered, like I can trust new people,” she said. “All of those girls are so dope. We ran around taking pictures, changing dresses, dancing — super-cliché girly stuff, but it rocked. The way she cares about women is so adamant. It’s pulling me out of my shell.”
Part of breaking free also involves fighting back and telling it straight. ”I’m so f***ing nice to everybody, and everyone is so vile to me. I’ve been working since I was 7. I’ve been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It’s so disappointing that I’ve become a tabloid story,” Gomez vented. “The hate motivated me.”