Selena Gomez: Mental health in the beauty industry

In 2016, Selena Gomez was the most- followed person on Instagram. Now, she doesn’t even have the Instagram app on her phone. In fact, she’s removed all social media apps from her personal devices. And she believes this decision has changed her life for the better.

Gomez told Elle magazine in October that getting off social media was “a huge, significant part of why I feel like I’ve been as healthy as I have been.” It’s one of many steps the singer and actress has publicly taken to protect her mental health. 

In recent years, Gomez has been extremely vocal about her journey with mental health, and has used her platform to extend the conversation about one of the biggest issues facing Millennials and Gen Z today. Now, she has embedded mental health educational resources into her new cosmetics brand, Rare Beauty. And it’s changing how people approach the topic in the beauty and lifestyle industries.

As an avid follower of lifestyle and beauty/wellness brands, I’ve seen my fair share of mental health-related content. In this landscape, CSR-related posts and articles with headlines like “10 Ways to De-Stress” or “How to Protect Your Mental Well-Being This Month” are common. This content, while valuable, has a distinct focus: improvement of mental health, often in “one-size-fits-all” suggestions. Rare Beauty takes a different approach, focusing on increasing education around mental health.

It’s a message that rings authentic through Gomez’s own experiences. She spoke about her diagnosis with depression and anxiety in a speech, saying that she was “equal parts terrified and relieved — terrified because the veil was lifted, but relieved that I finally had the knowledge of why I had suffered with various depressions and anxieties for so many years. I never had full awareness or answers about this condition.” Opening up about her diagnosis with bipolar disorder on Miley Cyrus’ Bright Minded Instagram Live series, she similarly expressed that learning more about it was extremely helpful.

On the Rare Beauty website, Gomez writes that she wished more people had talked about mental health when she was younger, so she would have understood more about what she was going through. Rare Beauty's content is centered around creating these conversations. The brand's mission is to “help everyone celebrate their individuality by redefining what beautiful means” and “give people the tools they need to feel less alone in the world.” In the education section of the site, “Rare Impact” articles like “How to Talk About Mental Health” and “Know the Warning Signs of a Mental Health Condition” provide important resources.

Another article, “Mental Health 101,” advocates for the inclusion of more mental health resources in schools, encouraging consumers to engage through signing a petition, donating to the Rare Impact Fund and spreading the word through social media slides. In a time when conversations around mental health, by industry standards, sometimes seem so focused on finding a quick fix, Gomez invites Rare Beauty consumers to dig deeper, and understand what they’re going through to start a process of healing.

The impact her work could have, especially in the Genzennial community, is immeasurable. She is part of a generation of stars, including Taylor Swift, Raven- Symoné and Demi Lovato, whose careers have developed and changed parallel to the lives of us late Millennials and early Gen Zers. There’s a strange sort of empathy that is created there —  a subconscious, perceived connection with these celebrities who grew up in the same time as we did. Sometimes, it feels like the only difference between us and them is that instead of performing stage shows in their living room, they performed in front of millions on tours or TV screens.

This is part of what makes Gomez’s decision to build mental health resources into all aspects of Rare Beauty so powerful for a Genzennial audience. To see someone so embedded into our generation’s pop culture be so candid about mental health helps us feel that we don’t need to hide it if we’re struggling, (and based on statistics, more often than not, us GenZers are).

Just like its products are meant to highlight natural beauty — not cover up blemishes — Rare Beauty’s mission inspires us to celebrate what makes us unique, not hide what we feel makes us imperfect. Gomez has created a space where societal beauty standards are irrelevant, where mental health is of the utmost importance, and where the next generation of young professionals can talk candidly about mental health and find the resources they need.