Rare, honest and grateful, Selena Gomez has evolved endlessly before our eyes over two decades and today, the 29-year-old phenomenon has blossomed into the face—and heart—of what could only be described as a global self-love revolution. In the last one and half years, while the world retreated into isolation, she presented gleaming beacons of hope in the form of her third solo album Rare, first Spanish EP Revelación, ‘Ice Cream’ and Selena + Chef treats, and Rare Beauty.
More than a make-up brand, Rare Beauty is a message, and a movement, that seeks to cultivate beauty from the inside out through acts of self-care, backed by a community with whom Gomez shares her deepest emotions and support around mental health and mindfulness. “I want us to stop comparing ourselves to each other and to start embracing our own uniqueness,” she proclaims endearingly as she introduces the brand to her loyal fans. “You’re not defined by a photo, a like or a comment. Rare Beauty is not about how other people see you, it’s about how you see yourself.” After two years working on this special project and a successful launch in the US, Selena Gomez is finally bringing Rare Beauty to Asia with Sephora. Here, she opens up to Vogue Singapore on shattering societal stigmas, facing vulnerabilities and her unwavering definition of being ‘rare’.
What does this season look and feel like for you now? Tell us what you’ve been working on.
Earlier this year I released my first Spanish language EP Revelación, which I have wanted to do for such a long time. I just finished filming a new television series with Steve Martin and Martin Short, which will be out later this summer. I had the best time working on this with these two comedy legends and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. Starting another season of my cooking series Selena + Chef and launching Rare Beauty internationally, so it’s been a busy year for me!
What were your initial goals for Rare Beauty and how have they evolved since launching the brand?
I’ve always been open about my journey with mental health. My goal with Rare Beauty was to break down these unrealistic standards of beauty. I saw from personal experience how these impossible beauty standards were having such an effect on my mental health and I know a lot of people who felt the same way. Because of this, it was important to me that Rare Beauty could create a safe, welcoming space in beauty—and beyond—that supports the mental well-being of our community. We made the original plans to launch the company prior to COVID so that immediately had to all be adjusted and doing more things virtually than we had originally planned. I’m looking forward to when we can re-approach some of our original ideas for the company.
It’s amazing what you’re doing with Rare Beauty and Rare Impact. How would you describe the community that you’ve built?
Thank you for saying that. We have a goal to raise US$100 million for the Rare Impact Fund. Rare Beauty donates one per cent of all sales to the Rare Impact Fund and raises additional funds with philanthropic foundations, corporate partners and individuals in our community to increase access to mental health services in educational settings. Words can’t really describe how wonderful it is to see the community we are building. Seeing how open and honest they are is truly inspiring and makes us feel we are making a difference. They have given us great feedback on what they want to see and because of that we are building this brand together. Some of our mental health posts on social media are among the most saved, which shows that they are truly interested in learning more and I love that we can be a resource.
We love how Rare Beauty boldly addresses topics such as mental health, suicide, social justice and more. What values are close to its heart?
The values of Rare Beauty as a company are that we practice what we preach. I want all of our team members at the company to feel valued and take their mental wellness seriously. For example, we announced this summer Rare Beauty Mental Health Days, which are additional paid days off to take care of yourself. I think this is important and I hope more businesses prioritise this as well.
Mental health is a topic that’s still stigmatised in Asia. What advice do you have on addressing and getting help for such issues?
Hopefully that will change because it’s important that we talk about these issues and provide people with resources so they know they aren’t alone. For me, I wish I had the resources earlier because it would have given me clarity regarding the things I was going through. That’s why I think mental health awareness should be taught in schools. We have to end the stigma surrounding it. When I was younger, it was a challenge to share my struggles with anxiety and depression with the world, but once I did, I felt a huge sense of relief. I always thought I had to be perfect, but revealing my struggles and vulnerabilities ended up helping far more people than trying to present a perfect image. I think the more vulnerable people are, the more we can break the stigma surrounding mental health.
What are some of the conversations you wish we had less or more of around the standards and perceptions of beauty?
I wish we would all stop comparing ourselves to others. I know sometimes that’s not easy but it’s important. First, I want to say you are not alone. I want to remind everyone that what makes you rare is what makes you beautiful. Please remember that you are enough. One thing I do that helps me daily is to keep these little ‘Rare Reminders’ on Post-it notes on my mirror with affirmations. I think we need to remind ourselves regularly!
From acting to music to being an entrepreneur, you pour your heart into what you do. When do you feel most in your flow creatively?
It depends on what I am doing. There are so many different types of creative aspects to what I do. With music for instance, my favourite part is being in the studio and writing with my collaborators. Creating a song is an incredible feeling. When you are done with the song there might be a music video or performance you have to do for the song and that becomes another creative element. Returning to a television series reminds me how much I love acting and what a creative process of building a character is. It’s been an amazing experience producing TV and film. So, to answer your question is difficult because I am incredibly lucky that I love what I do and I get to be creative.
Looking back on everything, what is the Selena Gomez of today most proud of? In what ways has she grown for the better?
On a personal level I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve remained the same person at my core but with a few more scars and bumps. Deep down inside I am still grounded, kind and hopeful. I think I’ve grown with my knowledge and understanding of what’s going on in the world and that I have been able to find my voice. A few years ago, I was nervous to talk about politics or maybe an issue that mattered to me. At a certain point I realised I have this platform and I wanted to use it for something positive and make a difference or what’s the point?
The word ‘rare’ strings through your music, beauty brand and mental health community. What is your definition of ‘rare’ and how has this evolved over time?
‘Rare’ was the first song I recorded on my album and I knew no matter what other songs we create that was going to be the name of the album. It’s a powerful word because the reference can be associated with people and how we are all different and how that should be considered a positive thing. Not sure the definition has really evolved for me because it’s embracing who you are at this moment in life. I really try to live by the philosophy that I am supposed to be exactly where I am right now.
How do you remain confident and authentic in a world that’s filtered and all about external validation?
I try and stay off the Internet and social media as much as possible, but I love that it connects me to fans directly. Other than that, I try not to give it too much space in my life anymore. That is what works for me. I’ve always only been able to be myself and when I’ve tried anything that wasn’t authentic, I think it came off exactly as that.
What continues to charge your creative batteries and how can we better tap on sources of inspiration to fuel our passions in life?
I have a deep sense of curiosity and I think that and always wanting to push myself outside of my comfort continues to inspire me. I do really believe that doing things outside of our comfort zones is how we truly continue to grow and be inspired. It can be scary but many of the most rewarding things in my life have been those that initially made me feel nervous.
For the full cover story, pre-order your copy of the July/August ‘Breath’ issue of Vogue Singapore online now or pick it up on newsstands from 30 June 2021.