By now, you’ve heard the heartbreaking news that Selena Gomez suffers from lupus, and underwent chemotherapy for the autoimmune disease when she took a hiatus in late 2013. Her story moved me to tears, but there’s one element in particular that I can’t seem to shake.
For months, Selena allowed tabloids to believe she was in rehab for emotional reasons and to get herself back on track after her whirlwind romance with Justin Bieber spun her life out of control. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re —holes,'” she says.
As if having her world turned upside down by this disease and false reporting in the media weren’t enough, Selena was body-shamed last spring after posting photos of herself in a bikini on social media. Still not having revealed her secret, the star admits that the harsh words she received only worsened the pain: “That was the first time I’d experienced body-shaming like that. I believed some of the words they were saying.”
When enduring months of physical and emotional turmoil such as these, there’s only so much one person can take. I imagine it being even intensified for a public figure who’s so heavily scrutinized. Reading Selena’s story, I found myself wondering: Why didn’t she just come out with it? How did she possibly handle all of that? What was the breaking point? But what opened my eyes was realizing how keeping her secret and sacrificing her image for the sake of her well-being was the bravest thing she could do.
Selena admits she “locked [herself] away until [she] was confident and comfortable again,” even while fallacies about her swarmed the air, she didn’t fold. She endured the pain of the rumors and being shamed for her body, and could’ve revealed the truth of her diagnosis at any moment to get everyone’s sympathy. Instead, she was strong enough to realize what had to be done-put herself, only herself first-as difficult as it was.
We’re not all superstars, and the public doesn’t care about our personal lives, but this still applies to us all. From Selena’s incredibly courageous move, I learned that regardless of being criticized by others-whether it be loved ones or complete strangers-you have to be brave enough to put yourself before everything and do what is right in your heart. Even if it means being selfish or making sacrifices to better yourself in the long run. Only you are in charge of you.