5 ways Selena Gomez has made herself an icon for young women

Raise your hands if your newsfeed has been flooded with posts about Selena Gomez and The Weeknd’s relationship over the past month. If people aren’t dissecting their Instagram stories for clues about their relationships, they’re analyzing Selena’s hypothetical rivalry with The Weeknd’s ex Bella Hadid.

While the innate thirst to know every single detail about celebrity relationships is now hardwired into our DNA, we imagine it’s annoying to see it overshadowing every other aspect of said celebrity’s life. Before The Weeknd and his Bella Hadid-shaped baggage, Selena found herself in the news almost daily thanks to some passive-aggressive Instagram post her ex-boyfriend Justin Beiber had made.

And yet, the most followed human being on Instagram is more than one half of a celebrity couple. Most recently, the Kill Em with Kindness singer surprised fans at a school when she snuck into a school meeting for under-privileged girls organised by NGO Step Up and sponsored by fashion label Coach. And there’s plenty more where that came from.

She has been working since she was 10 years old
The 24-year-old singer-songwriter-actor-producer-designer started out with a role on Barney and Friends, along with fellow pop star Demi Lovato, when she was just 10. After becoming a certified Disney superstar with her recurring role in Hannah Montana and The Wizards of Waverly Place, Selena slowly branched out into singing and song-writing.

She was the youngest UNICEF ambassador ever
In 2009, 17-year-old Selena made history by becoming UNICEF’s youngest ambassador to date. After her first field mission to Ghana, she said that she felt a huge responsibility in having a voice that kids listened to and so, she wanted to create awareness for the issues that plague women and children across the world.

She has spoken up about her physical and mental health publicly
Being in the public’s eye constantly is bound to take a toll on a person’s health. When the person in question is as widely talked about as Selena is, the toll is bound to be superlative. In late October 2015, she opened up about undergoing treatment for lupus, an auto immune disease that can damage any part of the body. The diagnosis left her with no choice but to cut back on public appearances like concerts and Instagram, a fact that led many people to speculate she had a problem with substance abuse. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, she talked about why she tried to keep it hidden for so long, “(the diagnosis) was something that I did want to keep private until my whole life suddenly wasn’t private.”

She also opened up about battling anxiety, panic attacks and depressions — all side effects of lupus — and stressed on the importance of getting help when going through something like that in her, now viral, 2016 AMAs speech. “I had to stop, ’cause I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down. But I kept it too much together to where I let myself down. If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken,’ she said.

She has six rescue dogs and plans to adopt more
Selena firmly believes in the philosophy of adopting, rather than buying, when it comes to pets. Over the years, she has added six dogs to her family and has no plans of stopping there. While most of them were adopted from various shelters and rescue organization, Fina, her Rhodesian ridgeback mix, was taken in when she wandered up to Selena’s mother in a parking lot. According to Selena, the dog was skin and bones and covered in fleas. Now Fina is the house diva and she needs her pillow and blanket on her bed or she refuses to go to sleep.

She knows how to clap back at body shamers
When Selena stepped out wearing a hot pink bikini on a beach holiday, she was wildly unprepared for the hate.

The trolls not only called her fat, but also declared that “she’s a mess” and “on a downwards spiral”, all because she wore a bikini a size smaller than her usual. To counter the “degrading” stories, Selena posted a picture of herself, stretched out in another swimsuit, with the caption “I love being happy with me yall #theresmoretolove”.

The whole experience sobered her up to the realities of cyber bullying too. “I actually had never experienced it before,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, “I couldn’t even imagine what my fans or kids go through at school — it’s just so difficult and awful.”