How Selena Gomez Became the Most Popular Girl in America

Selena Gomez graces W magazine’s March cover, and in a candid interview, she talks about her much-scrutinized relationship with Justin Bieber, the pitfalls of growing up famous, and her strategic use of social media.

“At first I didn’t care,” she said of the scrutiny of her personal life. “To me it was: I’m 18, I have a boyfriend, we look cute together, we like that. Then I got my heart broken and I cared. Because people had no idea what was going on, but everywhere it was a million different things.” She paused. “I was kind of in a corner, banging my head against the wall. I didn’t know where to go.”

Photo Credit: Steven Klein for W magazine

On learning to be herself: “Once Disney was over, I was like: Oh, shit. I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I had to learn to be myself.”


On taking on roles in diverse films: a cameo in The Big Short, another in the forthcoming comedy Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and a lead in the indie drama The Fundamentals of Caring, which recently premiered at Sundance. “I know that I can go into a room and convince someone that I can be a character,” Gomez said. “I’ll cut my hair, I’ll shave it, I’ll dye it. I’d go there in order for people to let Selena go.”


“Every single girl has done it completely differently,” she said when asked to compare her transition with Miley Cyrus’s. “Obviously, she wouldn’t want to be doing what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t want to be doing what she’s doing. But I’m a fan of her music—I don’t know if she’d say that about me.” “We never feuded. We both liked the same guy when we were 16. It was just a Hilary Duff–Lindsay Lohan thing: ‘Oh, my God, we like the same boy!’ We are now completely settled in our own lives.”

Photo credit: Steven Klein for W magazine

Photo credit: Steven Klein for W magazine

And what about Bieber? A month after Gomez put out Revival, he released Purpose, a kind of album as indulgent forgiveness plea, with much of his winsome apologizing aimed at her. “I’m so exhausted,” she said. “I honestly am so done. I care about his health and well-being. But I can’t do it anymore.”


On social media:  “I’m utilizing social media right now because of my age and because, to be honest, everybody else in the world was talking about me, so I wanted a fucking say. I honestly had to, because I didn’t really expect my life to be as public as it was. Is this going to destroy me or make me? I still have to make that choice on a daily basis.” While she recognizes social media as a necessary tool for this phase in her life, she is not wed to it. “In a few years,” she confided, “I’ll give all of it up.”

Photo Credit: Steven Klein for W magazine

Photo Credit: Steven Klein for W magazine

Discussing the March issue in his editor’s letter, Stefano Tonchi writes: “For our March issue we decided to celebrate a renewed sense of American optimism. A welcome by-product of the digital revolution is that young people are experimenting with identity and image in order to stand out rather than fit in. No one embodies this spirit of freedom better than our cover star, Selena Gomez. Her transformation from a one-note Disney sweetheart into a multifaceted woman mirrors the emotional voyage of a whole generation of young Americans trying to steer clear of stereotypes.”

Fashion Credits: On the cover, Selena wears a Louis Vuitton top and bra, and Miu Miu tiara. Inside, she showcases looks by Chanel, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Missoni, Norma Kamali, Topshop, and more.

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