Tonight’s American Music Awards was one for the books, from the killer performances to the smiles on the faces of celebrities who won their nominated categories – you felt the passion of both the artists and the fans throughout the program. One moment that stands out for us, and likely young adults all across the world, is Selena’s speech when she won her award for Pop/Rock Female.
The AMAs marked the first public appearance for Selena since she announced that she was taking a break for her own health and wellbeing months ago. While this break shocked fans at first, they quickly stood behind her as she left the spotlight to heal and find a sense of peace. The entertainment industry is demanding, it is ever going and ever growing, it’s unrelenting and the pressure put on celebrities is something we may never truly understand. Brave was a word used to describe Selena when she made the decision to take a step back, and brave was a fitting word to describe her tonight as well.
“In 2014, this stage was actually the first time that I was authentically 100% honest with all of you. I think it’s safe to say that most of you know a lot of my life whether I liked it or not, and…I had to stop. Cause I…I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside and I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down. I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram, I want to see what’s in here – as she pointed to her heart – I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore. All I can say from the bottom of my heart is that I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to share what I love every single day with people that I love. I have to say thank you so much to my fans because you guys are so damn loyal and I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but if you are broken you do not have to say broken. If that’s anything whether you respect me or not, that’s one thing you should know about me is that I care about people and thank you so much.”
While Selena has certainly been open and honest about her struggles in the past, she forces us – as fans – to acknowledge that sometimes it goes too far, too deep, and too much is taken from celebrities without their consent. She does not blame fans, nor does she speak down to them, she simply says that a lot about her life was made public, even when it wasn’t what she wanted. She calls her fans the most loyal and is in awe of them while wondering what she did to deserve them. The truth is, the honesty given in the speech is what she did, and what she continues to do, that inspires people all across the world.
Too often, young adults are held to ridiculous standards by the media, by other young adults, and by themselves. One must be this and this and this and that but never too much of any of it. One must be smart but not outspoken, brave but not intimidating, sexy but reserved, talented but not proud. One must be tall and thin, short and petite, have certain hair, well-done makeup, be put together all the time and not show weakness. The models in the magazines are beautiful but are often airbrushed, primped, made to look like they don’t possess a single flaw. Add that perfect body and sense of self-esteem to their low-calorie diet secrets and workout regiments and a lot of young people are suddenly yearning for a specific sense of perfection while not realizing how wonderful they already are.
It leaves a lot of people broken.
Selena was one of those people, in her speech she says “I had everything” as she choked back tears, and those tears said a lot more than her words did. Selena had (and still has) the beauty, the talent, the fame, the friends, the romance – but she was broken inside and no one suspected a thing. She put on a mask and played a part and it took some time for her to realize that she had to stop. She bravely stepped out of a life that her fans desired because underneath the lights and the glamor, it was empty, and she had to save herself.
In saving herself, she may have saved other young adults too.
Depression and anxiety are often silent diseases and Selena gives them a face, a voice, and a spirit that so many people look up to. She used her circumstance tonight to tell her fans – and everyone else who was listening – something important. She told them that taking care of yourself and caring about people are the things in life that matter, the ones that keep you grounded. In doing so, she presented people in the audience and people at home with the knowledge that even the most beautiful things in this world aren’t golden all the way to the core and the glitter and glamor so many of us see every day sometimes hide darkness.
She inspired others to stop glorifying themselves and others by their bodies and to focus on their hearts instead – both to motivate and to love both themselves and others. In her speech, while her words held a lot of importance, the emotion on her face and in her eyes made it impossible to look away and it allowed her message to be a resounding one.
We must start loving ourselves so that we can love others, and we must also love others enough that they believe they’re deserving of self-love too.
The standards that society has set do not have to define us, they don’t have to be the bottom line or the guiding light, we can change the focus to what truly makes us all human, and that is the love and the compassion that make us vulnerable in the best way. That vulnerability allows us to see the truth in ourselves and the truth in others and it’s enough to desire to make the world a more beautiful place for everyone.
If you’re struggling with depression and anxiety, or any other mental illness that tells you that you’re not worth it or that things simply will not get better, Selena is a shining example that those things aren’t true. You don’t have to fight by yourself, and while asking for help or stepping away from a life that you know to get better isn’t shameful, it’s brave. She is proof that it’s okay to put yourself first and that as you find a sense of calm in a world that’s usually chaos, you find a better sense of yourself.
We are incredibly proud of Selena for being candid and we only hope that she continues on her journey to happiness, she is truly deserving of it. As are any of you who may be on a similar journey, take her word for it, your heart is what matters the most.