The stunning transformation of Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is a fixture of the pop culture landscape. The actor, singer, and Instagram juggernaut has been on television ever since she was a child, captivating audiences with her cherubic face and her premium pipes. Gomez may still be young, but she's already shown the world that she's a force to be reckoned with on multiple occasions, demonstrating just how indestructible her brand has become.

But to truly get to know the real Gomez, listening to her albums and watching her on television won't tell you the entire story. Rather, to really get a sense of who she is inside, you have to travel back to the early '90s in Grand Prairie, Texas, the suburb outside of Dallas where Gomez was born. It was there where her story began, far away from the glamorous hills of Hollywood.

So what was Gomez's childhood like? Is she the progeny of Hollywood elites or did she start out as just a regular girl? And what along the way has taught her the most about her life, herself, and her dreams? This is the stunning transformation of Selena Gomez.

Selena Gomez was born into poverty

Plenty of the young celebs in Tinseltown are the children of well-established Hollywood elite, such as Jaden and Willow Smith and Miley Cyrus. But Selena Gomez wasn't fortunate enough to be born with such a silver spoon in her mouth, as the Texas native was the child of a 16-year-old single mother. As a young girl in the early '90s, she remembers scrounging in the car seats for change to buy ramen noodles, according to Vogue, so she certainly knows what it's like to do without.

Looking back, Gomez is extremely appreciative for all that her mother did for her, even though she didn't feel grateful at the time. "I definitely didn't appreciate it when I was little," she confessed in an interview with Glamour. "I was frustrated that my parents weren't together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me."

While Gomez says she's scared of what her life would have look like had she stayed in Texas, she's glad she grew up where she did. 

Barney & Friends was Selena Gomez's big break

Selena Gomez might have led an entirely different life had it not been for the break that she caught when she was 7 years old. After competing in pageants for several years, she was cast on the wildly popular children's show Barney & Friends, according to Vogue. That broke down the door to the industry for Gomez, who isn't shy when it comes to how the program had an impact on her. "I learned everything from that show," she revealed in an interview with CBS News. "So it's such a wonderful memory to me. A lot of people would be embarrassed to say they were on Barney but I embrace the fact and I had such a wonderful time doing that show."

Gomez also made a lifelong friend while on the set of Barney & Friends, as singer Demi Lovato was also on the children's show at the same time — a bond that Gomez treasures. "I'm so blessed and I'm so happy that she's there because you meet a lot of people that you may not be able to trust, so I'm happy that I have her," she added. 

By the time she was 12, Selena Gomez worked for Disney

On the heels of her success on Barney & Friends, Selena Gomez was selected by Disney to be one of their young players when she was 12 years old. The next year, she relocated to Los Angeles from Texas with her mom and stepdad, and, the following year, Disney cast her as Alex Russo in Wizards of Waverly Place. After that, seeing as the program did very well, Disney cast her in a variety of shows and films, and put her in the studio to make albums. "I worked with Disney for four years," she recalled in an interview with Vogue. "It's a very controlled machine. They know what they represent, and there was, 100 percent, a way to go about things."

But even though Gomez was becoming super famous among kids and tweens, she had a bit of a hard time coping with her peers on the Disney Channel. "I was so scared and so shy back then," she revealed in an interview with Glamournoting, "I'm glad I'm at the place I'm in [now]. I wish I was there back then."

Selena Gomez was diagnosed with Lupus in 2013

In 2013, Selena Gomez received some rather unwelcome news: She was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissue. Gomez initially kept it quiet, sharing it with close friends and family — and, interestingly enough, a total stranger at a hospital. "There was this kid that wouldn't look me in the eye at all," she shared in an interview with GQ. "I wanted to get his attention, even though maybe it was too much. So I just said, 'Ask me anything you want.'"

He was the first person Gomez told about her diagnosis other than her loved ones, which allowed the pair to bond. "He asked me, 'Have you ever dealt with anything like this?' And I said, 'I have lupus. I was in the ICU for two and a half weeks. I was in this exact same room,'" she continued. "And it was the first time that he looked at me."

Gomez went public about her diagnosis in 2015, hoping that sharing her story would raise awareness about the disease.

Selena Gomez fired her mother from managing her in 2014

From the very beginning of her career, Selena Gomez was managed by her mother, Mandy Teefey, and her stepfather. However, in 2014, Gomez decided to fire her mother and stepdad, opting instead to retain a professional in the industry with other clients of her caliber, according to TMZ. In the end, she hired Bradford Cobb to be her new manager, who also manages Katy Perry and Adam Lambert, according to Us Weekly.

While the split wasn't 100 percent amicable, as Gomez's parents weren't thrilled about the decision, they remain close as a family and support her in her ambitions. "Every mother and daughter has disagreements," Teefey explained in an interview with Gossip Cop. "We never expected to manage her her whole life. We lost family time because the only time we saw her, we talked business." She added that it was no longer fun for anyone involved, as it used to be when she was a minor and they had to be there.

Revival was Selena Gomez's first post-Disney album

Although Selena Gomez had been recording music since her Disney days, it wasn't until 2015 that she released her first full-length album independent of the House of Mouse. Entitled Revival, the record was extremely personal for Gomez, who worked hard to figure out who she was while making it, musically speaking. "I had to really discover what was going to work for me because there were times in my career where I sang things that just weren't me and weren't for me," she mused in an interview with Time. "You can hear it in my voice. You can hear it when it's inauthentic."

Gomez didn't hold anything back, either, as she had more writing credits on Revival than any previous album, and everything she gave to the album was 100 percent real. "This whole record is extremely intimate," she continued. "I did executive produce it. I wanted to know that every single song meant the world to me, whether I wrote it or not." Well done, Selena!

In 2016, Selena Gomez checked herself in for treatment... again

In 2016, with 30 shows still remaining on her Revival tour, Selena Gomez abruptly canceled the remaining dates and checked herself into a mental health facility in Tennessee. "Tours are a really lonely place for me," she revealed in an interview with Vogue. "My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage, or right after leaving the stage. Basically I felt I wasn't good enough, wasn't capable." This was the second time she did such a thing, as she also shut down her 2014 tour just after she was diagnosed with lupus.

Gomez spent 90 days in treatment without her cell phone, just focusing on getting better and healing herself. "You have no idea how incredible it felt to just be with six girls," she continued. "Real people who couldn't give two s***s about who I was, who were fighting for their lives. It was one of the hardest things I've done, but it was the best thing I've done."

Selena Gomez had a kidney transplant in 2017

In 2017, Selena Gomez's fans noticed that she wasn't out promoting her music and that she seemed to be laying low. As it turns out, there was a very good reason for that. "I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering," she wrote in a post on her Instagram page. "It was what I needed to do for my overall health." Certainly getting an organ transplant warrants lots and lots of rest!

Gomez was extremely lucky, in that one of her best friends decided to donate her kidney to her in a selfless act of love. "There aren't words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa," she continued. "She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed."

Gomez also thanked her family and her medical team in the post.

Selena Gomez briefly reunited with Justin Bieber in 2017

In addition to getting a kidney transplant in 2017, Selena Gomez also reunited with her longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend Justin Bieber. When she was asked about the reunion, Gomez responded that she'd done some growing up since the last time she and Bieber were together. "I'm 25. I'm not 18, or 19, or 20. I cherish people who have really impacted my life," she explained in an interview with Billboard. "So maybe before, it could have been forcing something that wasn't right. But that doesn't mean caring for someone ever goes away."

The rekindling of their famous relationship was on the heels of the dissolution of Gomez's relationship with The Weeknd. But Gomez insists that their breakup was amicable. "Something that I'm really proud of is that there's such a true friendship [between me and The Weeknd]," she continued. "I truly have never experienced anything like that in my life. We ended it as best friends, and it was genuinely about encouraging and caring [for each other], and that was pretty remarkable for me."

Bieber and Gomez split a short time later, and Bieber later married Hailey Baldwin.

Plastic surgery isn't in the cards for Selena Gomez

Of course, if you have an organ transplant, you're going to have a significant scar from the surgical procedure. That's something Selena Gomez is comfortable with, having meditated on her health and body in the wake of a major, life-saving operation. "There are a million things I can do — lasers and creams and all that stuff — but I'm OK with it," she shared in an interview with Billboard. "And by the way, there's nothing wrong with [plastic surgery]. Cardi B has been my inspiration lately. She's killing it, and she is proud of everything she has done." 

So while Gomez knows and understands that she's not perfect, she's happy with her appearance, and she has no time to fuss over other people's looks, either. "So there is absolutely zero judgment on my end," she continued. "I just think for me, it could be my eyes, my round face, my ears, my legs, my scar. I don't have perfect abs, but I feel like I'm wonderfully made."

In 2017, Selena Gomez decided to downsize her life

With having transplant surgery and reuniting with Justin Bieber, 2017 was a big year for Selena Gomez, on top of her already full plate. Perhaps that was the reason that Gomez soon decided to Marie Kondo her life, selling off some of her million dollar properties and evaluating what really matters to her. "I think everything in my life is being majorly downsized, in a very good way," she revealed in a 2018 interview with Elle. "I'm going back to simplicity. That's always who I've been."

That doesn't mean that Gomez felt like she was on top of the world, or happier than she's ever been in her life. Rather, it was a conscious decision to accept herself in the moment. "It's not me saying, 'I feel the best I've ever felt,'" she continued. "It's me saying, 'I'm exactly where I am. And I'm so happy I'm in this place.' It's a lot of self-discovery."

Selena Gomez became an executive producer for 13 Reasons Why for a reason

Mental health is something that Selena Gomez is passionate about, which is the reason she's open about her own personal struggles with it. Additionally, she's an executive producer on the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why, a show she believes addresses important issues and starts necessary conversations. "I feel like if this is what we're going to talk about, we might as well as do it in a way that is going to be honest, it's gonna be real, and it stays true to the book," she explained in an interview on the Elvis Duran Show. "So all the questions that came up, and all the talk about it was all valid and I understand it." 

The show hasn't been without controversy, which Gomez is aware of. But she believes that's because 13 Reasons Why deals with content that's not easy to discuss. "That stuff is uncomfortable for people to talk about," she continued. "But it is happening and hopefully, it opened the door for people to actually accept what's happening and actually go and change it, talk about it."

Selena Gomez backed away from social media

There's no question that Selena Gomez has some serious social media savvy, given how many followers she has on Instagram and Twitter. But Gomez no longer has Instagram on her phone, and she doesn't know her password — only her assistant does. And that's for a reason. "As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out," she confessed in an interview with Vogue. "It had become so consuming to me. It's what I woke up to and went to sleep to." 

To that end, Gomez decided to take a step back from social media in order to reorient herself. "I was an addict, and it felt like I was seeing things I didn't want to see, like it was putting things in my head that I didn't want to care about," she continued. "I always end up feeling like s**t when I look at Instagram. Which is why I'm kind of under the radar, ghosting it a bit." Way to take care of yourself, Selena!

Selena Gomez said her friends have literally saved her life

One thing that's kept Selena Gomez sane throughout everything is her friendships, particularly with her longtime girlfriends. "I have a lot of friends, but as far as the ones that are my every single day? I've said this a million times, but they've saved my life in a lot of ways," she gushed in a 2019 interview with SiriusXM. "It's very rare to trust anyone."

One of those friends is Taylor Swift, who Gomez has been close to since the mid-2000s, and who's been there at every twist, turn, and tribulation. "She was frustrated when I was frustrated, she was sad when I was sad, but more than anything, my friends stood by my side," she shared in an interview with Beats 1. "When I think they visibly saw me in so much pain, and they didn't want it for me, but they ... they never stopped loving me." Honestly, that's a beautiful thing.

In 2019, Selena Gomez finally hit No. 1 on the Hot 100

In the latter part of 2019, Selena Gomez reached a significant milestone: She finally reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single "Lose You to Love Me," as reported by Billboard. "This song is so dear to my heart," she wrote in a post on her Instagram page. "I've been working so hard to make this album as honest and fun as possible while remaining vulnerable enough to share where I am in life. I love you deeply and thank you so much for listening." Congrats, girl!

Intriguingly enough, many of Gomez's fans think that the song is about her relationship with Bieber, according to Us Weekly. For one, in the song she alludes to her purpose and then says she burned it, which is perhaps a nod to Bieber's 2015 album Purpose. And Gomez also sings, "In two months, you replaced us / Like it was easy," which is the approximate amount of time Bieber took to hook up with his now-wife, Hailey Baldwin.

Only Gomez knows for sure what the song is about, but we share the suspicions of Selenators.