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Selena Gomez explains why she disabled public Instagram comments

“I felt empowered by doing that, by saying, ‘This is just for me,’” she said.
/ Source: TODAY

New episodes of Hoda’s podcast are available every Wednesday — just search “Making Space” wherever you get your podcasts, or?click here.

As the most-followed woman on Instagram, Selena Gomez is used to living her life in the spotlight.

The former Disney star has turned into one of the world's biggest pop stars, actors and beauty brand founders, and the 31-year-old is now using her platform, with more than 428 million followers, to advocate for mental health awareness.

Sitting down with U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and TODAY's Hoda Kotb at her makeup line Rare Beauty's Mental Health Summit, Gomez shared how she navigates her online following.

Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy attended the Rare Beauty 3rd Annual Mental Health Summit on May 1, 2024.Cindy Ord / Getty Images

"I disabled all my comments on my photos on Instagram for only my friends. So I think I’ve created boundaries to help me," Gomez said. "Obviously people fussed about it. They fuss about everything.

She added: "I felt empowered by doing that, by saying, 'This is just for me.'"

Gomez has been open with her physical and mental health challenges. She was diagnosed with lupus in 2013, and later underwent a kidney transplant at just 24 years old.

In 2020, Gomez revealed she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which she said was something her team initially didn't want her to announce.

"I will have to say I thought about it a lot. And I’ve been pulled in many different directions to not or to be able to say it," she said. "But once I did, there was no taking it back. I was very proud."

Looking back, Gomez said she now realizes she was struggling before she asked for help.

"I wasn’t understanding my mind. I wasn’t understanding my reactions and my emotions. And I think that was probably the most painful time in my life," she said.

Gomez and Murthy partnered together to focus on challenges facing young people in the U.S., including social media and what Murthy called an "epidemic" of loneliness.

"Well, I do think it’s a true epidemic," Murthy said. "And this is one of those things I think a lot of us have struggled with in our own lives, and feeling lonely, feeling by ourselves."

"I really believe that we’re living in the middle of a youth mental health crisis that’s become the defining public health challenge of our time," he added.

Gomez released her documentary "My Mind and Me" last year, which followed the singer and actor through six years of her life, including her struggles with her mental and physical health.

"It starts with the fact that I did take the step to get help," she said of how her journey helped to inspire other people.

Gomez described a moment after she released her song, "Lose You to Love Me," when a woman came up to her and said she was going through her third divorce.

"Those are the things that keep me going," she said. "And it’s a little bit about what we talk about in the mental health space — is connection and how important it is to be connected to people, even if it’s in a brief moment."

Gomez added: "When I was able to talk to people and work things out... it became so important to me that I now make it a part of my life. It’s all about, at the end of the day, for me, owning my power. And I am who I surround myself with."

One of those people, she said, is her boyfriend Benny Blanco, who appeared on TODAY earlier this week.

"He’s wonderful," Gomez told Hoda.

While Gomez has become an advocate for mental health, including raising $100 million to expand mental health services and education for young people through her makeup brand Rare Beauty, she said she is proud of still being a work in progress herself.

"I will always be working on my mental health. And I will always evolve," Gomez said. "I’m not better or worse than anyone. I’m simply just a person living and surviving every day."

Hoda asked Gomez what she sees when she looks in the bathroom mirror each day, and the star replied: "Someone who’s waking up every day and trying her best. And that’s all I could ask for at the end of the day."

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