In an interview with TooFab, the 23-year-old social media star talked about her new YouTube docuseries "The Secret Life of Lele Pons"--which chronicles her life with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette syndrome, and other mental health conditions -- and revealed why now is the right time to share this side of herself.
"It was when I realized that I wasn't really ashamed anymore," Lele said. "And it wasn't a negative thing to have, you know, I always thought it was just like, 'Oh my God, what are they going to say if I have this.' But I think it was when I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed to have [OCD.] And when I started meeting other kids that had it and their stories and how inspired they were. So I was just saying, 'How many people can I inspire if I show that I have OCD?'"
"It's an accumulation of a lot of things," she continued. "Throughout the years, people that I told that I had OCD, they didn't even care ... and they were like, 'Oh, that's amazing.' And there's other people that actually didn't even know what OCD was. It's so hard to educate because it's so difficult, right? So everything was accumulating in that sense."
The internet personality, who got her start on Vine back in 2013, said she once met a 9-year-old female fan while she was getting treatment at a mental health facility. However, the young girl was refusing to take medication and go through treatment, so Lele's therapist asked if she could help motivate the fan to get help.
"So I go in and she's like, 'Oh my God, Lele Pons, what are you doing here? [Making] a video?'" Lele recalled with a laugh. "And I was just like, 'No, I'm here for treatment.' And she was like, 'For what? And I was just like, 'I have OCD too.' She was like, 'You have OCD? No, you don't.' She couldn't believe it."
After the young girl realized she was in the "same club" as the YouTube star, she agreed to go through treatment. And Lele reassured the fan that they were "in this together."
"She's been doing great," Lele said to TooFab. "So things like that, you know, motivate you slowly to come out and be vulnerable to people that have been vulnerable to you too."
The Latin pop singer also acknowledged she knows there's "a possibility of getting a lot of hate" from sharing this side of herself to the world as she's hit with negative comments daily. However, according to Lele, being able to help others outweighs the risk of receiving hate from internet trolls.
"Knowing that you're doing something good and going to help at least one person that should be enough," Lele explained. "Regardless, if I put [out] this documentary, I'm going to get hate. If I don't put [out] this documentary, I'm going to get hate. What is the difference? One of them I did something good."
Known for her funny videos and comedic stunts, Lele has over 40 million Instagram followers, 16.3 YouTube subscribers and 10.5 fans on TikTok.
Though many social media users have referred to Instagram culture as "toxic," Lele said she believes a different platform holds the title.
"Honestly -- and I think everybody should agree with me on this -- Twitter is the most toxic place," Lele said. "Let's be realistic here. You put Twitter and Instagram [side-by-side], Instagram is so much better than Twitter when it comes to hate because Twitter is all about comments...Twitter has made hate become cool. The more you hate on Twitter, the more likes you're gonna get."
Lele also opened up about why Howie Mandell is one of her role models, why she's "proud" of her Venezuelan-Italian background and more. Check out our full interview, above!
New episodes of "The Secret Life of Lele Pons," a five-part docuseries, will drop every Tuesday on YouTube.