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Selena Gomez is done sitting back while paparazzi vultures and Internet trolls tear into her. With her upcoming album, Revival, the pop star is taking charge of her life, career and image in a way she hasn’t before — so watch out, world.
As part of Chris Martins‘ Billboard cover story, here are five ways the 23-year-old artist is doing things on her own terms.
She’s Overcome a Lot — and Is Persevering
“I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke,” says Gomez of her time spent out of the spotlight, which gossip-mongers took as fodder for addiction rumors. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”
She’s Channeling Her Frustration Into Her Music
“I’m so f—ing nice to everybody, and everyone is so vile to me. I’ve been working since I was 7. I’ve been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It’s so disappointing that I’ve become a tabloid story,” says Gomez. But it helped propel her to new places for Revival: “The hate motivated me.”
She’s Earned It, and She Knows It
Former boyfriend Justin Bieber is undergoing a similar maturation in the pop world, but Gomez dismisses any notion she’s inspired by his career turnaround. “No. This is my time. I’ve deserved this. I earned it. This is all me.”
She’s Taking Control of Her Body Image
Gomez admits Internet trolls affected her self-confidence earlier this year. “I was in a bikini and got publicly ripped for being overweight,” says Gomez. “That was the first time I’d experienced body shaming like that. I believed some of the words they were saying. When somebody else has your self-esteem in their hands … ” According to Gomez, that’s why you see her baring her body on the cover of Revival — she’s not afraid of what the online critics might say.
She’s Breaking Out of Her Shell
Gomez is understandably reluctant to allow new people into her world, but she says pal Taylor Swift is helping her trust others. “Taylor makes me feel empowered, like I can trust new people,” she says of the Squad. “All of those girls are so dope. We ran around taking pictures, changing dresses, dancing — super-cliche girly stuff, but it rocked. The way she cares about women is so adamant. It’s pulling me out of my shell.”
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.
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