Controversial Selena Gomez Moments We Can't Forget

Once celebrated as America's sweetheart, Selena Gomez has earned herself the title of a controversial figure over the years. Initially recognized for her role in Disney's "Wizards of Waverly Place," Gomez achieved fame through her music career and subsequent return to acting, as well as her business ventures. Despite her openness about the challenges of living in the public eye, Gomez shared in a 2015 interview with The Associated Press that she wasn't overly concerned about others' opinions, explaining, "Everybody said everything they could possibly say about me."

Notably, while most past headlines often focused on Gomez's high-profile romance with Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber, her own actions have significantly contributed to her contentious reputation too. As most of Gomez's controversial moments were objectively easy to avoid, the question remains — is Gomez purposefully trying to get our attention? Whether intentionally or not, all eyes are on her, but oftentimes for the wrong reasons.

From failing to take a clear stance on a number of societal and political issues to her tendency to portray herself as a victim, particularly in relation to Hailey Bieber (whom Justin married in 2018), Gomez has had her fair share of controversial moments we can't forget.

Gomez downplayed speaking up about the Black Lives Matter movement

In the wake of Taylor Swift's feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Selena Gomez took to her X account, formerly known as Twitter, to share her unsolicited perspective on the matter. In the post, the star wrote, "There are more important things to talk about ... Why can't people use their voice for something that f***ing matters?" Although Gomez likely intended to support Swift, the "Single Soon" singer appeared to overlook the concurrent social and political upheaval taking root at the time, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement. The fact that Gomez did not address BLM publicly but opted to talk about Swift's drama made her tweet notably ironic and insensitive in the eyes of critics.

In response to receiving backlash for not addressing various ongoing societal issues in the U.S., including the BLM movement, Gomez posted a now-deleted tweet, which read, "Oh, LOL. So that means if I hashtag something, I save lives? No, I could give two f**ks about 'sides.' You don't know what I do," prompting even more online criticism.

Notably, in 2017, Gomez became the most-followed person on Instagram, according to a Business Insider report, with over 130 million followers on the platform. She was also among the top 10 most influential women on X during that same year, boasting around 55 million followers, Brandwatch reported. Gomez never apologized for her controversial remarks, leading social media users to continue calling her out on the matter years later.

She was more concerned with promoting '13 Reasons Why' than addressing its real-life effect

Merely a year after facing controversy related to her (non)involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement, Selena Gomez found herself in hot water over yet another controversial approach to a very sensitive matter. In 2017, Gomez's Netflix project, "13 Reasons Why," faced criticism for its explicit depiction and alleged glamorization of suicide, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and more. According to The Washington Post, psychologists and educators nationwide warned parents about the possible negative effects the show could have on teenagers, including replicating the depicted actions.

This prompted Gomez, who served as the series' executive producer, to defend her reasoning for choosing not to censor any of the triggering scenes. During an appearance on "Elvis Duran and The Morning Show," Gomez said that modern children were already exposed to issues like the ones addressed in "13 Reasons Why," which is why she doesn't see the problem with the graphic portrayals. "I feel like if this is what we are going to talk about, we might as well do it in a way that's going to be honest," she explained.

However, a study published by the National Institutes of Health revealed a significant 28.9% increase in suicide rates among the 10–17 age group in the United States following the release of the first season of "13 Reasons Why." Despite the real issue at hand, Gomez did not publicly address the findings and continued to promote the show on her social media platforms.

Gomez publicly dissed her kidney donor, Francia Raisa

In 2017, amidst Selena Gomez's battle with lupus, her then-best friend, Francia Raisa, selflessly stepped forward and donated a kidney to the "Calm Down" singer. Afterward, the pair appeared closely connected, expressing their mutual admiration and gratitude on social media. However, by 2019, speculations circulated online suggesting that the two were no longer on speaking terms. According to a RadarOnline report, Raisa disapproved of Gomez's post-transplant lifestyle, which allegedly involved excessive drinking and partying.

The reported feud resurfaced in 2022 when Gomez unintentionally reignited tensions in an interview with Rolling Stone, telling the publication, "I never fit in with a cool group of girls that were celebrities. My only friend in the industry really is Taylor [Swift], so I remember feeling like I didn't belong." As noted by TikTok sleuths, Raisa took offense at this comment, unfollowing Gomez on Instagram and leaving a since-deleted snarky comment on an E! News Instagram post featuring the quote, which read, "Interesting."

Gomez clearly caught wind of the drama as she left a controversial remark under a TikTok video discussing the situation, writing, "Sorry I didn't mention every person I know." While Gomez's controversial behavior towards Raisa raised questions, to say the least, the two ultimately managed to work things out, with Gomez sharing a lighthearted Instagram story to dispel any notion of lingering animosity between them, as reported by People.

Her Balenciaga controversy could've easily been avoided

In 2022, Balenciaga stirred up the fashion world with two highly controversial campaigns released within weeks of each other. The first set of promotional photos, part of the brand's holiday ad, featured children holding teddy bears in harnesses and immediately sparked widespread criticism for the inappropriate portrayal. Shortly after, the luxury fashion house launched a campaign for their "Garde-Robe" line, and eagle-eyed internet users quickly noticed that some of the papers seen in the photos were real court documents discussing child abuse.

Despite having no direct connection to the fashion controversy, Selena Gomez seemed to intentionally immerse herself in the drama. Months after the Balenciaga scandal unfolded, Gomez shared a throwback photo of herself donning a Balenciaga knit turtleneck in a now-deleted post, Mirror UK reported. In the image, Gomez was enjoying ice cream with a friend, but all eyes were on the prominent "Balenciaga" logo on the singer's chest. Adding to the intrigue, the photo wasn't recent, as Gomez herself later revealed it was taken between 2018 and 2019.

Amid the rising online criticism, Gomez posted her since-viral "I'm single" video on TikTok and weirdly decided to address her Balenciaga drama in the comment section. According to Nine, she apologized, but didn't offer any explanation for why she chose the specific photo during such a tumultuous time for the brand. Moreover, Gomez's handling of the situation seemed to trivialize the real issue, once again reinforcing her infamous public image as an attention-seeker.

Gomez keeps refueling the Hailey Bieber drama

In addition to her impressive career spanning various entertainment realms, Selena Gomez is still often associated with Justin Bieber, whom she dated on and off for 10 years. Despite breaking up in 2018, Gomez seems to continuously put herself in situations that link her to Justin's wife, Hailey Bieber. Rumors about a purported feud between Gomez and Hailey have been circulating online for years, with Gomez's fan base resorting to sending Hailey death threats.

Not only did it take Gomez years to address and discourage her fans from cyberbullying, but she subtly keeps refueling the rivalry rumors. In 2023, Hailey posted a now-deleted TikTok video lip-syncing to the words, "I'm not saying she deserved it, but I'm saying God's timing is always right." Selena's fans interpreted this as body-shaming aimed at Gomez, prompting Hailey to clarify that the video was meant for fun and wasn't directed at anyone, as reported by People. Nevertheless, Gomez jumped at the opportunity to insinuate that Hailey was indeed mocking her. Under another TikTok video discussing the alleged drama, Gomez commented, "It's ok! I don't let these things get me down! Be nice to everyone!"

Notably, that same year, Gomez wrote, "So sorry my best friend is and continues to be one of the best in the game," under a TikTok video featuring a clip from 2017 where Hailey mocked Taylor Swift during her "Drop the Mic" co-host gig, as per Page Six. Gomez's unwarranted self-insertion in all things related to Hailey is, at the very least, odd.

Her neutral stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict angered many

It seems Selena Gomez has learned nothing from her previous disinterested stances on pressing societal issues. In 2023, the "Only Murders in the Building" star sparked controversy when she broke her silence on the Israel-Hamas conflict with what many deemed to be an underwhelming statement. According to Newsweek, Gomez condemned all forms of violence and called for the protection of people worldwide.

While other celebrities were taking clear sides, Gomez chose to remain neutral, prompting social media users to call her out. "She KNOWS exactly the power and influence she holds; she just doesn't want to use it," one person tweeted, while another shared, "She has the opportunity to inform her 400 million followers [about] a genocide ... If [you're] too cowardly to stand [with] the oppressed, then keep it in the drafts." Gomez faced additional scrutiny for her contrasting approach to the war in Ukraine, where she openly expressed support for the Ukrainian people.

Following the online backlash, "Rare Beauty," Gomez's beauty brand, posted a lengthy text to Instagram expressing support for Palestine. However, given Gomez's personal distancing from the subject, the post sparked further controversy and got branded as a mere PR maneuver. "All I hear is 'Don't boycott us,' one user commented, while another wrote, "Congrats! You managed to use war as a PR strategy ahead of the holidays and pissed off BOTH sides."