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Selena Gomez: How beauty can influence our mental health

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Written by Selena Gomez

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.

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 Credit: SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images/Getty Images

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. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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 Credit: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

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. Credit: 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.

As told to CNN’s Ananda Pellerin.

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The US broke its record for the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a day

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The United States broke its record for the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported in a single day on Friday, an alarming sign that what some epidemiologists are calling a “third wave” of infections is spreading at breakneck speed as winter approaches.

According to the New York Times, by the end of the day on Friday, at least 85,085 cases were reported across the country — about 10,000 cases more than the previous same-day high on July 16.

Public health experts have long warned that uneven compliance with social distancing guidelines, inadequate contact tracing programs, and premature reopenings of indoor venues were creating conditions for a resurgence of virus transmission after its summer peak, and that is what appears to be happening now.

A bar graph showing the US case totals for each day, going back to March 3. A red trend line goes across the top of the bars, peaking first in early April at around 35,000 cases, falling to just over 20,000 in early June, spiking to around 70,000 in July, falling to around 40,000 in September, and rising again to about 60,000 in October. The Covid Tracking Project

The new case numbers also show that the geographic spread is wider than during past spikes. According to an internal report produced on Thursday for officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, and obtained by the Washington Post, more than 170 counties across 36 states have been designated rapidly rising hot spots. And 24 states have broken single-day records of new cases in the past two weeks, the Post reports.

Also concerning is that in the past month there has been a 40 percent rise in the number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 infections. Deaths have not surged so far, but epidemiologists have pointed out that there can be a significant time lag between a surge in cases and deaths tied to that surge.

“Today’s cases represent infections that probably happened a week or two ago,” Boston University epidemiologist Eleanor Murray told Vox’s Dylan Scott in July. “Today’s deaths represent cases that were diagnosed possibly up to a month ago, so infections that were up to six weeks ago or more.”

Saturday, President Donald Trump downplayed the record number of new reported cases on Twitter, and incorrectly claimed that cases were up only because testing ability is up.

But public health experts have pointed to state-level policies on distancing and contact tracing as a key driver of the current uptick. Moreover, the high rates at which coronavirus tests are coming back positive in many states — a key data point for estimating the true spread of the virus — and the surge in hospitalizations are signs that the new wave is not just a result of testing capacity. As Vox’s German Lopez has explained, a high positivity rate actually suggests that not enough tests are being done to track and contain spread in a given area.

Murray, the epidemiologist at Boston University, told the Washington Post that the wide geographic range of the new wave will make it difficult to move health care workers to hot spots. Previous spikes were concentrated in certain communities, allowing medical professionals from less affected areas to be moved to deal with outbreaks. But the breadth of the current outbreak could tax US health care capacity in a manner that has not been seen before.

And Murray also pointed out that this wave is more dangerous that the two that preceded it, because it started from a higher point of infections.

“We are starting this wave much higher than either of the previous waves,” she told the Post. “And it will simply keep going up until people and officials decide to do something about it.”

Experts have warned about a third wave for a while

Medical professionals, epidemiologists and many public health officials have long pointed out the risk of a third wave.

As Vox’s German Lopez wrote in early October, experts warned that a third wave looked likely in light of the fact that the virus was never really suppressed nationally, and that premature reopening, encouraged most aggressively by Trump and Republican governors, would simply accelerate its spread:

Consider Florida. Last month, the state reopened bars and, more recently, restaurants, despite the high risk of these indoor spaces. After Florida previously opened bars, in June, experts said the establishments were largely to blame for the state’s massive Covid-19 outbreak in the summer. As Florida reopens now, it has roughly two to three times the number of Covid-19 cases that it had in early June, and its high test positivity rate suggests it’s still likely missing a lot of cases. The state is fanning its flames while its most recent fire is nowhere near extinguished.

This is, in effect, what much of the country is doing now as it rushes to reopens schools, particularly colleges and universities, and risky indoor spaces. Coupled with recent Labor Day celebrations, experts worry that’s already leading to a new increase in Covid-19 cases.

Experts have pointed out that Trump’s persistent agenda to downplay the dangers of the virus — and his suggestions that the news of a third wave is a media conspiracy designed to throw the election in Democrats’ favor — could intensify the problem as the virus is made into an increasingly partisan issue. The president has repeatedly failed to take responsibility for the troubled US pandemic response, including at the second presidential debate. He has instead blamed China and Democrats for the country’s problems, while leaving it to individual states to create plans to lower the rate of infection.

Some states have had more success in reducing infection than others, but none have managed to eliminate spread altogether. And more worrying still is that cold weather and flu season have yet to fully settle in many states as winter approaches.

The good news is that we know how to counteract further spread.

“None of the ideas to prevent all of this are shocking or new,” Lopez recently wrote. “They’re all things people have heard before: More testing and contact tracing to isolate people who are infected, get their close contacts to quarantine, and deploy broader restrictions as necessary. More masking, including mandates in the 17 states that don’t have one. More careful, phased reopenings. More social distancing.”


Help keep Vox free for all

Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.

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Melania Trump to vote on Election Day, first lady’s spokeswoman says

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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center on October 24 in Circleville, Ohio.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center on October 24 in Circleville, Ohio. Evan Vucci/AP

Shortly after Ohio State defeated Nebraska on the opening weekend of Big Ten college football, President Donald Trump took credit for the return of the conference’s season. 

“And it’s great to be back in Ohio to celebrate the return of Big Ten football with a big victory today for the Buckeyes,” Trump told the crowd Saturday at a rally in Circleville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus. 

“So then I had an idea, I said I’m gonna get it open if it’s shutdown, that’s what happened,” Trump said. “And I worked hard to bring back Big Ten and I got together with your commissioner, he did a good job, and we got it back, and today you won your football game and you were very happy about it.”

Trump repeatedly pressured the conference to play football this fall, which it ultimately decided to do. However, it’s unclear how much influence the President’s pressure had on that decision despite him taking credit for it. 

CNN’s Harry Enten wrote earlier that Trump obviously saw a political opportunity with concern to the Big Ten. There’s a reason he focused most of his attention on the Big Ten suspending play, as opposed to the many other conferences that did. Most of those other conferences aren’t based in swing states.

And Trump wasn’t alone. Biden also made ads showing empty college football stadiums due to the coronavirus with the blame landing at Trump’s feet.

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Poland had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. They just got even stricter.

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Poland’s highest court on Thursday banned abortions due to fetal defects, a ruling that further narrows reproductive rights in a country with some of the most conservative abortion laws in Europe.

On Friday, protestors took to the streets and clashed with police in several major cities across Poland to demonstrate against what reproductive rights advocates say is effectively a near-total ban on abortions.

The Polish constitutional tribunal found that abortions in cases where “prenatal tests or other medical indications indicate a high probability of severe and irreversible fetal impairment or an incurable life-threatening disease” violate the right to life.

The only remaining reasons someone can get a legal abortion in Poland now are in the case of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. According to CNN, around 98 percent of legal abortions in Poland are conducted due to fetal defects.

Dunja Mijatović, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, condemned the ruling and deemed it a “sad day for women’s rights.”

“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights,” she tweeted. “Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford and even greater ordeal for all others.”

The decision prompted fierce protests in many cities. In the capital of Warsaw, protesters gathered outside the house of Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party, holding signs that read, “You have blood on your hands.” After protesters clashed with riot police, a Warsaw police spokesperson said on Friday that 15 people had been arrested and the police had filed 89 motions in court.

More protests are expected throughout the weekend. “In a few days, hell for women will begin in this country,” reads the Facebook event description for a protest planned this weekend in the city of Gdańsk, according to the Guardian.

Further restricting abortion isn’t likely to be a popular move

Over 100 conservative and nationalist lawmakers asked the constitutional tribunal last year to consider the legality of abortion in the case of fetal defects, something they’ve framed as “eugenic” abortion.

Critics say that the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has undermined judicial independence and packed the constitutional tribunal with partisans who will rule in favor of its political programs.

Political analysts say that the timing of the decision might reflect that tribunal’s desire to help buttress the PiS party’s political interests, particularly at a time when its governing coalition with a smaller, hard-right party is in a state of crisis.

“It’s PiS trying to score points with the far right,” Marta Lempart, an activist with Polish Women’s Strike, a grassroots movement focused on abortion rights, told Politico Europe.

The court’s ruling does not appear to be in sync with public opinion. “Although Poland is one of Europe’s most staunchly Roman Catholic countries, opinion polls suggest there is a clear majority against making the abortion law stricter,” BBC reported.

Former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk tweeted: “Throwing the topic of abortion and a ruling by a pseudo-court into the middle of a raging pandemic is more than cynical.”

Women’s rights organizations in Poland say that the actual number of abortions performed every year is far larger than the official numbers show — many are conducted illegally within Poland or legally in neighboring countries.

While the official number of abortions last year was 1,100, Lempart estimated that Poles conducted 100,000 to 150,000 abortions, either illegally within the country or across the border in neighboring countries with less stringent regulations on abortion.

The new ruling could push illicit abortions even further underground by making it an even rarer and more strictly regulated act — and that in turn could potentially make them more expensive.

“Safe abortion will effectively be accessible only to women who can afford it,” Lempart told Politico Europe. “Others will look for cheaper and therefore more dangerous options.”


Help keep Vox free for all

Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.

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