The 29-year-old singer says putting the phone down immediately changed her outlook on herself.
Selena Gomez is opening up about the adverse impact social media had on her in her early 20s. One of the pitfalls was the obsession over social media, a dangerous effect, she said, that ultimately made her feel as though she "wasn't pretty enough."
The Revelación singer made the revelation in an interview with InStyle for the magazine's February "Badass" issue, in which she touched on a myriad of subjects, including her mental health and the struggles with self-image. The 29-year-old artist didn't shy away from the fact that social media had a tight grip on her that proved to have a domino effect.
"At one point Instagram became my whole world, and it was really dangerous," Gomez admitted to the magazine. "In my early 20s, I felt like I wasn't pretty enough. There was a whole period in my life when I thought I needed makeup and never wanted to be seen without it."
The newly minted GRAMMY nominee says she can now look back at that point in her life and take solace in her growth.
"The older I got, the more I evolved and realized that I needed to take control of what I was feeling," she said. "I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and feel confident to be who I am."
The solution? Taking a break from social media.
"[It] was the best decision that I've ever made for my mental health," Gomez explained. "I created a system where I still don't have my passwords. And the unnecessary hate and comparisons went away once I put my phone down. I'll have moments where that weird feeling will come back, but now I have a much better relationship with myself."
Part of her growth also included not punishing herself just because it may seem things appear rosy to those on the outside looking in. In an effort to strike a balance, Gomez says she recalibrated her view on social media -- from a dangerous obsession into a positive tool.
"I became aware that my little world is complicated, but the picture is much bigger than the stuff I deal with," Gomez said. "I have problems with depression and anxiety, and I found it difficult for me to be me. I didn't want to post anything on social media because I realized that I was in a situation where I was extremely blessed."
"What could I possibly post or say?" she continued. "Then I had the idea of inviting multiple people to be on my Instagram to tell their stories."
Gomez, for example, allowed journalist and Columbia University professor Jelani Cobb to take over her Instagram, which has more than 286 million followers. She introduced Cobb to her audience in a June 2020 post. Gomez handed over her massive platform shortly after to UCLA and Columbia law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, to shed light on past and present social issues.
When it comes to mental health, Gomez is on a mission to destigmatize it in an effort to make people feel it's perfectly OK to address it head on. It's an ambitious plan she's set out to accomplish as she continues to evolve.
"Changing the narrative of mental health and changing a curriculum that hopefully can be implemented in schools or a system for resources that are easily available," she said. "I'm just so passionate about that, and I think I will continue to be for the rest of my life. Especially since the pandemic, there are so many people I know who craved help but had no idea how to get it. I have big aspirations for that field and really want to implement more education behind it."
Gomez is also taking her own advice. A big proponent in therapy, Gomez has now set boundaries for herself if she recognizes she's not in the right headspace. She said she's also lost her sense of "FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)," and she's proud of that.
"If I'm not in the best headspace and my friends invite me out, I won't go out," she said. "... I like to be there for my friends and celebrate everyone. But I have to make sure that I'm OK, you know? Because if I'm not OK, I can't be OK for other people."