Since returning to Instagram after a hiatus that lasted 15 weeks (!), Selena Gomez - the most followed person on the app, with 113 million followers - has posted photos that look glossy and glamorous, not unlike those perfectly calculated, filtered photos of fellow Instagram queen Kim Kardashian.
But outside her social media presence, which is now run by Gomez's assistant, the 24-year-old has never been more candid about her story, somehow managing to achieve that seemingly intangible, elusive celebrity quality: "authenticity."
In 2015, Gomez revealed to Billboard that she had been diagnosed with lupus, which was why she had decided to cut her 2014 tour short to receive treatment at an outpatient facility in Arizona. In her first-ever cover story for American Vogue (for which she was photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott wearing a Michael Kors bralette) the pop star revealed details of her second round of treatment, which she entered in the middle of her Revival tour.
"Tours are a really lonely place for me," she told writer Rob Haskell. "My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage or right after leaving the stage. Basically I felt I wasn't good enough, wasn't capable."
Like many child stars, Gomez felt the pressure of pleasing her new, older audience. "I was so used to performing for kids," she said. "Suddenly I have kids smoking and drinking at my shows, people in their 20s, 30s, and I'm looking into their eyes, and I don't know what to say. … What I wanted to say is that life is so stressful, and I get the desire to just escape it. But I wasn't figuring my own stuff out, so I felt I had no wisdom to share. And so maybe I thought everybody out there was thinking, 'This is a waste of time.'"
A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on Aug 15, 2016 at 5:40am PDT
Gomez also revealed details of her rehab treatment in Tennessee, which required her to surrender her cell phone and included individual therapy, group therapy and equine therapy. "You have no idea how incredible it felt to just be with six girls," she admitted. "It was one of the hardest things I've done, but it was the best thing I've done."
A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on Mar 16, 2017 at 8:55am PDT
Following her 90-day medical treatment, Gomez is moving forward at full speed. In addition to her contract with Pantene, the singer signed a $10 million deal with Coach (which she was photographed wearing for her accompanying spread), and she has a Netflix miniseries in the pipeline called 13 Reasons Why. The show, which was spearheaded by Gomez and her mother after the actress fell in love with the book eight years ago, was adapted from the novel of the same name by Jay Asher and tracks the reasons a young girl decided to take her own life.
Aside from her work, however, these days Gomez is living a much more relaxed and low-key life, cozying up in an Airbnb in the Valley and seeing her therapist five days a week.
A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on Mar 16, 2017 at 8:56am PDT