Selena Gomez gave her first big interview of 2021 to Vogue for the magazine’s April issue, and Gomez didn’t hold back. The 28-year-old singer and actress candidly spoke about purposely disconnecting from the internet and social media for three years, how Disney fame—and being sexualized by paparazzi at a young age—affected her, and honestly considering retiring from music so she can fully focus on acting.
In regards to social media, Gomez decided three years ago that she was done. “I woke up one morning and looked at Instagram, like every other person, and I was done,” she said. “I was tired of reading horrible things. I was tired of seeing other people’s lives. After that decision, it was instant freedom. My life in front of me was my life, and I was present, and I could not have been more happy about it.”
Gomez has her assistant post photos and text to her Instagram and Twitter. “Everyone always asks me, ‘Are you secretly on; are you lying?’ and I’m like, ‘I have no reason to lie,’” Gomez said.
With her music, Gomez said she’s struggled with people not taking her songs as seriously as they would other artists’ because of her celebrity image and what people know about her life from the tabloids.
“It’s hard to keep doing music when people don’t necessarily take you seriously,” Gomez told Vogue. “I’ve had moments where I’ve been like, ‘What’s the point? Why do I keep doing this?’ ‘Lose You to Love Me’ I felt was the best song I’ve ever released, and for some people it still wasn’t enough. I think there are a lot of people who enjoy my music, and for that I’m so thankful, for that I keep going, but I think the next time I do an album it’ll be different. I want to give it one last try before I maybe retire music.”
When pressed on that retiring comment, Gomez winced, saying, “I need to be careful.” She added that she wants to spend more time producing and to “give myself a real shot at acting.”
She told the outlet that generally, it’s hard for her to escape being seen as a child star: “I still live with this haunting feeling that people still view me as this Disney girl.”
Gomez felt pressure at a young age as a Disney Channel star to be the ideal role model for children: “That was my job in a way—to be perfect,” she said. “You’re considered a figure kids look up to, and they take that seriously there.” She added that paparazzi started photographing her when she was just 15. Her on-set brothers, David Henrie and Jake Austin, were protective of her, but they were all unable to object to the paparazzi’s treatment of Gomez in the way they wanted to.
“We were all new to this, and they wanted to say things to the paparazzi, but you can’t, because that’s exactly what the paparazzi want,” Gomez said. “I remember going to the beach with some family members who were visiting, and we saw, far away, grown men with cameras—taking pictures of a 15-year-old in her swimsuit. That is a violating feeling.”
At the time, Gomez said she wasn’t aware of how invasive that situation was. “I think I spent so many years just trying to say the right thing to people for the sake of keeping myself sane,” she said. “I’m just such a people-pleaser.” She added that the only person not able to be that kind of people-pleaser would be “a man, yeah.”
When asked when the last time her “potential felt uncomplicated,” Gomez told Vogue it was during her days as the Wizards of Waverly Place actress.
Her mother and TV family would be with her in the morning as the cast went over lines on set. “They were there before any of it,” she said. “They loved me for me, and they still do. I can’t say that I have that anymore. I can’t meet someone and know if they like me for me. To be honest, I just want to start over. I want everything to be brand-new. I want someone to love me like I’m brand-new.”
You can read Gomez’s full Vogue interview here.