At one time the most followed person on Instagram, Selena doesn't even have access to the app on her phone now, and has assistants upload her content for her.
Selena Gomez has been open about her mental health struggles over the years, but she's in a better place now than she has been in a long time. One of the best things she did for her own sake was to walk away from social media.
According to the singer and actress, she made the decision to back down from her gargantuan social media presence back in 2017, which was the same year that she was the most-followed person on Instagram. Talk about walking away while on top.
That's not to say that Selena no longer has a social media presence. She's too business savvy about her brand to allow her pages to go fallow. And she's still the one who makes the call about what gets posted. She's just not doing the posting anymore.
As she explained to Elle, she now submits whatever images or captions or posts she wants put on her social media accounts to her assistants and they do it for her. She doesn't even have the passwords anymore, nor are the apps on her phone.
She said the problems with Instagram for her were twofold. On the one hand, she'd sometimes get lost in the negativity of the comments. On the other hand, she'd get lost in people's Instagram feeds, spending hours scrolling her feed and sometimes exploring years of the IG lives of people she doesn't even know.
It was because she felt she was losing herself a bit on the platform that she decided, "I’m like, ‘I’ve got to do something [more]. After I’m gone, I want people to remember me for my heart.’"
Removing it from her phone was an intentional decision to strip away the temptation it brought. "This tiny little phone that had 150 million people on it -- I just put it down,” she said. “That was such a relief for me.”
"I suddenly had to learn how to be with myself. That was annoying, because in the past, I could spend hours looking at other people’s lives," she said. "Now I get information the proper way. When my friends have something to talk about, they call me and say, ‘Oh, I did this.’ They don’t say, ‘Wait, did you see my post?’"
She said that stepping away from social media gave her a surprising focus and clarity in both her personal and professional lives. "I felt like I was suddenly able to be so present," she explained.
As a result, she's expanded her business portfolio to include Rare Beauty, a cosmetic line designed to enhance natural beauty rather than conform to unrealistic standards set by the industry. She has also made sure to incorporate a charitable aspect to Rare and all of her ventures.
"If something good isn’t coming out of it, I’m not going to do it," she explained of these different professional explorations. "I don’t need money. I need people who want to fight with me."
The same can be said for her popular "Selena + Chef" reality show, where she virtually connects with a real chef who tries to guide her through cooking some random dish. According to Elle, the show has already raised $360,000 for 23 nonprofit organizations.
For Selena, it's also a way to connect even more authentically with her fans than she was able to through Instagram. "It’s the most ‘myself ’ I’ve been to the world," she said of the project.
She's come a long way from her early days as a Disney star when she felt like she had no control over her life, her public image and even the tabloid stories that were written about her. "For a while, I felt like an object,” she admitted. "It felt gross for a long time."
In more recent years, Selena has taken control of the narrative of her life, opening up about her 2014 lupus diagnosis, and her 2018 bipolar diagnosis, which she said explained so much about her life to that point.
She's even been candid about her emotional struggles, going so far as to say she was ready to quit music recently over negative reactions. She felt she wasn't being taken seriously by the industry or the fans.
When asked if she still felt this way, Selena said that while she still feels like she constantly has to prove herself, "I don’t think I’ll ever quit making music."
"I’m not saying I want a Grammy. I just feel like I’m doing the best I can, and it’s all about me. Sometimes, that can really get to me," she explained, saying that creating music is so much more personal and vulnerable than acting.
For her legions of fans, though, Selena is inspiring in all areas of her life, whether it's singing, acting, cooking, developing cosmetics or how she's choosing to manage her social media and mental health.