Selena Gomez Opened Up About Feeling Violated by Paparazzi as a Teen
"[Retaliating is] exactly what the paparazzi want."
In her April 2021 feature interview for Vogue, Selena Gomez talked politics, growing up primarily with a single mother in Texas, and her early fame on Disney Channel. When she landed the role of Alex Russo in Wizards of Waverly Place, Gomez instantly felt the pressure to be perfect at all times, which proved difficult when paparazzi began following her at every waking minute. Gomez said that being tracked by tabloids as a young teen was a "violating" feeling.
"That was my job in a way—to be perfect," she told Vogue regarding her position at the Disney Channel. "You're considered a figure kids look up to, and they take that seriously there."
She was only 15 years old when paparazzi began showing up to the Waverly Place set, trailing her around Los Angeles, and even sneaking up on her while at the beach.
"We were all new to this, and [costars David Henrie and Jake Austin] wanted to say things to the paparazzi, but you can't, because that's exactly what the paparazzi want," Gomez said. "I remember going to the beach with some family members who were visiting, and we saw, far away, grown men with cameras—taking pictures of a 15-year-old in her swimsuit. That is a violating feeling."
Despite that violating feeling, Gomez felt as though she wasn't allowed to retaliate. "I think I spent so many years just trying to say the right thing to people for the sake of keeping myself sane," she said. "I'm just such a people-pleaser."
It's been over a decade since Gomez became tabloid fodder, and she's since taught herself how to maintain her sanity without forfeiting her privacy. She has her assistant manage her social media accounts—in fact she hasn't been on Instagram in several years. And she puts her energy solely into her singing, acting, and political activism rather than concerning herself with rumors and gossip.
Having seen how paparazzi can ultimately ruin the lives of young stars like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, etc., it's important for celebrities like Gomez to speak out about how they felt violated so the public understands how dangerous the industry can be.