Selena Gomez’s bitter row with love rival Hailey Bieber makes her become world’s most followed woman on Instagram
Selena Gomez, the first woman to reach 400million followers, overtook the Kardashians thanks to candidly sharing her health struggles and romance woes, as well as a high- profşle row with her exs wife.
Reflecting on her warts-and-all approach, Selena, 30, said: “I deliberately strive not to be perfect. I don’t want people to think that I have it all.”
Often appearing without a scrap of make-up, the actress and singer has told about her gruelling mental health episodes and side- effects from her poor health.
But it was a recent row with Hailey Bieber, wife of Selena’s former partner Justin Bieber that gave her the ten million new followers she needed to leapfrog Kylie Jenner and become the most followed woman on the platform.
Selena and model Hailey have had bad blood for almost a decade, with Justin rumoured to have been seeing Hailey during his eight-year on-off relationship with Selena.
He proposed to the model, actor alec Balwins niece, in July July 2018, four months after splitting from Selena.
After years of fans dissecting the supposed tit-for-tat between the two women, the feud came to a head in February when Hailey and pal Kylie Jenner seemed to be teasing Selena over her eyebrows on social media.
Sparking bullying claims, the two socialites appeared to post mocking posts after Selena confessed to messing up an eyebrow treatment, something they both denied.
Last week, having seen her followers grow while Hailey’s diminished, Selena urged fans to stop taking sides.
‘I felt like a product’
She wrote: “Hailey Bieber reached out to me and let me know that she has been receiving death threats and such hateful negativity.
"This isn’t what I stand for. No one should have to experience hate or bullying.
“I’ve always advocated for kindness and really want this all to stop.”
In what was dubbed a modern day Treaty of Versailles, they started following each other on Instagram.
It was hard not to read the episode as a victory for Selena, with her girl-next-door relatability trumping the glamorous internet “mean girls.”
Brand and culture expert Nick Ede said it was typical of her open book appeal.
He told The Sun: “She’s got the relatability factor, she’s kind and is a really good role model for her army of fans.
"She’s not had a picture perfect life but she’s a hard worker and hasn’t let any knocks to her mental or physical health stop her.”
He added: “She’s the total antithesis to a Kardashian, there’s nothing scripted about her. In the age of filters and fillers, that realness is refreshing to Gen X as well as millennials and Gen Z.
Having found fame with Disney, Selena Selena could’ve been a washed up child star by now. Instead she boasts three gold and platinum studio albums, Netflix production credits and her won beauty and ice cream ranges.
She’s also said to have a hot new love interest, with rumours that she is dating One Directions Zayn Malik.
Her career has gone from strength to strength, thanks to a star turn in Disney+ series Only Murders In The Building, alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short.
Her success is thanks to hard graft, because Selena is no nepo baby. Her mum Mandy Teefy was just 16 when Selena was born, and her dad left when she was five.
Recalling her tough upbringing in Grand Prairie, Texas, Selena said: “I remember my mom would run out of gas all of the time and we’d sit there and have to go through the car and get quarters and help her get gas.”
On Selena’s ninth birthday, Mandy took her to a casting call for US channel PBS’s new show about a purple dinosaur, Barney and Friends.
For two years, she acted alongside singer and actor Demi Lavato before both were snapped up by Disney.
Aged just 15, she was cast as a teen witch in the channel’s hit show the Wizards of Waverly Place which quickly shot Selena into superstardom.
Then, when she started dating Justin in 2010, she found herself under intense scrutiny from the media, as well as Justin’s army of Beliebers.
She said at the time: “I just like to not focus on what the whole world is saying about me and just be happy with myself.”
In 2020, eight years fter leaving her Disney days behind her, Selena confessed that working for them had made her feel “like a product”.
In a separate interview, she told how the minutiae of her life was dictated by the channel: “I wasn’t a wild child by any means, but I was on Disney, so I had to make sure not to say, “What the hell?” in front of anyone.
“Now I think being the best role model is being honest, even with the ugly and complicated parts of yourself.”
It was a mantra she took with her as she faced a number of personal crises — just as her post-Disney career was taking off with more adult films such as Spring Breakers and her solo pop career launch in 2013.
One fan claimed Justin Bieber and Selena had a baby together — a case which was dismissed — and then he was spotted sneaking out of a model’s hotel room, causing them to split for the first time in their romance.
Halfway through her Stars Dance album tour in 2014, Selena suddenly checked into rehab.
Her mum, then her manager, reassured fans she wasn’t there for addiction. Two years later, it emerged she’d been diagnosed with autoimmune disease Lupus and had checked into rehab for chemotherapy.
She said: “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes’.
“It’s awful walking into a restaurant and having the whole room look at you, knowing what they’re saying.
“I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”
She got back with Justin in the same year of her rehab stint but there were more dramas when the musician was punched by Orlando Bloom in a club — allegedly for hooking up with Orlando’s then missus model Miranda Kerr.
Two years later, Justin started dating Lionel Ritchies daughter Sofia, who was predictably trolled by fans. When Justin told them to back off on Instagram, Selena gave her two cents worth on the post.
She wrote: “If you can’t handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol. It should be special between you two only. Don’t be mad at your fans. They love and supported you before anyone ever did.”
In response, Bieber accused Selena of cheating on him with her current rumoured beau Zayn Malik. But the pair reunited again in 2017, after Selena’s brief romance with singer the Weeknd, but split by the following March.
But that was the least of her troubles. That same year her friend actress Francia Raisa donated her a kidney, saving Selena’s life.
She wrote at the time on Insta: “There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa.
“She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis.”
There have been rumours the pair have since fallen out with the girls seemingly having a pop at each other over social media.
When Selena shared an article where she hailed Taylor Swift as her only friend in the industry, Francia posted, “Interesting”.
After Bieber got married in 2018, Selena confessed she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after being hospitalised with psychosis.
During her Revival tour she began to hear voices which her assistant Theresa described as getting “louder and louder”.
Selena later admitted she had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts since her 20s.
She said: “It would start with depression, then it would go into isolation. Then it just was me not being able to move from my bed.
“I thought the world would be better if I wasn’t there.”
Channelling her pain into her career, Selena became executive producer on Netflix drama 13 reasons Why. The controversial series gained six million views in three days for its second season.
Speaking on the series about suicide, the actress said: “If this is what we are going to talk about, we might as well do it in a way that’s going to be honest.”
She brought her honesty to her Instagram — often appearing make up free with messy hair for videos.
After she faced criticism about gaining weight, Selena spoke about how her Lupus medication affected her weight, saying: “I just want people to know that you’re beautiful, and you’re wonderful.
“Yeah, we have days where maybe we feel like s**t, but I would rather be healthy and take care of myself. My medications are important, and I believe that they’re what helps me.”