Selena Gomez: How beauty can influence our mental health

Editor’s Note: Singer, actor and producer Selena Gomez is an advocate for mental health awareness. On the eve of World Mental Health Day, October 10, she explains why this issue is important to her and why she decided to launch a beauty line. All opinions expressed in this article belong to Gomez.CNN — 

We are constantly bombarded with images and social media posts that make people feel like they need to achieve perfection, which is unattainable. I have been open about my own personal mental health struggles and how I have felt “less than.”

Growing up in the public eye is a lot of pressure. It’s hard enough for anyone during those early years but imagine it with the world judging you and commenting on every aspect of your life and choices. Sometimes I do think it made me have a thicker skin and I don’t regret growing up the way I did. It’s an understatement to say I feel incredibly lucky to have a platform where I know I can make a difference.

Selena Gomez earlier this year in Los Angeles

Selena Gomez earlier this year in Los Angeles

But that does not mean I haven’t had difficult times. I decided to be open about what I was experiencing, and because of this I have heard from so many people over the years who struggle with their own mental health. It is an issue that has become very close to my heart. I try to use my voice to help reduce the stigma associated with talking about mental health, and to encourage people to celebrate their uniqueness.

Not alone

There are so many unrealistic expectations for women in our society and a pressure to look and act a certain way. Social media has definitely influenced our idea of “perfect,” and we often turn to these platforms for validation and comfort. But in the end, this also makes us all feel a bit lonelier.

For anyone who is struggling with mental health issues or is simply having a difficult time, I want to tell you that you are not alone.

Selena Gomez at an album release party in California.

Selena Gomez at an album release party in California.

I’m actually a big advocate for social media detoxes. I’m still connected and like to see what’s going on, but it’s important for me to take time away from scrolling. I try to remember that everyone is usually sharing a highlight reel and only their best photos, and that I don’t need to feel bad about not looking the same way.

I’m also a strong advocate for therapy. It helped me answer a lot of questions about why I was feeling a certain way and helped me overcome some obstacles. At the beginning, it wasn’t easy for me to be open with the fact that I was struggling with depression and anxiety. I felt like there was a pressure to be perfect, as so many people looked up to me. But after I made the decision to seek help and be open about what I was feeling, it was such a relief. I think admitting I am a human being, and not perfect – nobody is – was actually more beneficial to the people that looked up to me.

Beauty for the future

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best makeup artists in the world. I love the art of makeup and experimenting with different looks and how they can totally change a character. Two years ago, I decided to create a brand that changed the conversation around beauty. I felt this was something that was needed in the industry and isn’t discussed enough.

Selena Gomez at the Hollywood Beauty Awards 2020

Selena Gomez at the Hollywood Beauty Awards 2020

I used to think I had to wear makeup in order to feel pretty, but now I understand that I don’t need makeup to feel beautiful. Now, I view makeup as an accessory and something to be excited about. And that’s really what I want Rare Beauty to embody – wear as much makeup or as little as you want – this is a safe and welcoming space where everyone should feel comfortable.

There’s so much pressure to look a certain way and makeup is often used to hide or cover up perceived imperfections. But we want women – and men – to challenge the beauty “norm” by changing the conversation and celebrating what makes each of us unique.

Since the start of Rare Beauty, my team and I have been building a community to have positive conversations around self-acceptance and mental health. During pandemic restrictions this has included intimate Zoom calls that we call “Rare Chats,” and also profiling members of our community on social media, where we encourage people to celebrate their individual beauty (we offer 48 shades of foundation and concealer to suit all skin tones). I have seen first-hand how many of our followers have formed meaningful connections with one another during this crazy year.

Selena Gomez with Rare Beauty chief product designer Joyce Kim.

Selena Gomez with Rare Beauty chief product designer Joyce Kim.Rare Beauty

It was also important to me to have a purpose behind the company, and I knew mental health would be a big part of our message. With the Rare Impact Fund, we want to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, address the epidemic of chronic loneliness, and help give people access to the resources and services they need to support their mental well-being. We launched the fund this past July (on my 28th birthday) and announced our goal of raising $100 million over the next ten years to help give people in underserved communities access to mental health services.

We are committed to raising funds with other partners and our community, and one percent of Rare Beauty annual sales will go directly to the Rare Impact Fund. With the Fund, we also created the Rare Impact Mental Health Council, which is made up of expert advisors from leading universities, organizations, and companies to help us make sure we are making the biggest impact.

I want everyone to find the power in what makes them rare. We all need to embrace our uniqueness, stop comparing ourselves to others, and love ourselves more, especially right now.

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