Selena Gomez is the cover star for Harper’s Bazaar’s March issue, speaking to Katherine Langford, the lead in Netflix’s original series 13 Reasons Why, of which Gomez is an executive producer. The wide-ranging interview details where Gomez is at, now, after spending some time out of the spotlight and receiving a kidney transplant. (Gomez has lupus, an auto-immune disorder where your immune system attacks your body’s own tissues and organs.)
Langford also asked Gomez about her Mexican heritage, and her answer will ring true to anyone who grew up feeling different from their white peers and at times, secretly wishing they weren’t:
I’ll never forget when I was doing my TV show [Wizards of Waverly Place]; I think I was 15 or 16. We would do these live tapings every Friday, and one Friday there was this single mother with her four kids. She was Latin, and she came up to me after, crying. Her kids were so excited, but I noticed the mom, so I gave her a hug and asked, “Hey, are you okay?” And she was like, “It’s really incredible for my daughters to see that a Latina woman can be in this position and achieve her dreams, someone who isn’t the typical, you know, blonde with blue eyes.” And I knew what she meant. When I was younger my idol was Hilary Duff! I remember wanting blue eyes too.
Still, Gomez touches on the quintessential problem that many Mexican-Americans (or other immigrant Americans!) face: not feeling Mexican or American enough, at the same time. She says:
I look at myself in the mirror every day and think, “Man, I wish I knew more Spanish.”
And yet, as so many not-white Americans can relate to, Gomez explains that she also doesn’t want to be typecast or pigeonholed in her career because of her identity, which mainstream culture may try to flatten, anyway:
Most of the time, though, I try to separate my career from my culture because I don’t want people to judge me based on my looks when they have no idea who I am.
Preach, girl. Identity is complicated and I certainly understand the desire to prevent others from writing me off as a one-dimensional figure, but also know the mental energy it takes to constantly explain the many dimensions of yourself when asked. No one has to do that, but the world is a better place when you do. In short: Go Selena!