Selena Gomez is clearly not caught up in the “Belieber” hype that has re-erupted since his most recent album release last year. At a recent concert she was filmed stopping mid-performance to crumple up a fan’s sign that read, “Marry Justin, Please.”
Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez have not officially been in a relationship since 2012, but fans have still held onto hope that they will start dating again. In November 2015 it seemed like they were getting back together, however since then Selena has adamantly spoken against a future relationship.
To some, her act might seem like just another pop diva’s antic. But an alternative way to view it is as a twenty-something female who is sick of being defined and reminded of her ex. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Selena responded to a question about Bieber serenading her before the American Music Awards by saying, “honestly, what I would love to be printed is that I am so beyond done with talking about that, and him.”
She has expressed this sentiment in several of her interviews, saying that whenever she goes to promote something, the interviewer tries to turn the conversation onto her personal life, and her past relationship with Bieber. The forlorn romantic script is just too juicy to deny. But she's ready for the focus to be on her life—today.
I find Selena’s sentiment here to be so relatable. It’s not uncommon for women of all walks of life to have to deal with this phenomenon of being defined by the men in our lives. How many of us have been reminded of an ex-boyfriend at a family gathering or told post-relationship that we made a mistake and should have gotten married? These words can sting, especially if people are simplifying a hard but necessary decision we went through, including factors that others simply did not see. Breakups are always difficult, and reminders of the past can feel like stabs at our dignity and even risk shaking our commitment to a decision.
Furthermore, it seems that while all anyone wants to ask her about is Justin, he is not subject to the same interrogation. Sure, there was speculation that some of his newest album Purpose may have been about her, for the most part people have been more focused on other aspects of his life. This is yet another reminder that it's all too common for people to define a woman by love and her status relating to a man while men are free to move on to the next with much less scrutiny.
In an interview with Marie Claire she spoke of her experience with interviews saying, "I would leave a room feeling defeated, feeling embarrassed, but I would always make sure to put that smile on my face because I wasn't going to let them get to me.”
The way I see it, Selena Gomez was just trying to do her job. While the fan’s sign was not mean spirited, it was likely an unwanted reminder of something that Selena would like to leave in the past, as well as a statement that defines her by her ex, not by her personal accomplishments. Like every woman, Gomez’ is more than her past relationships or scripts others want her to play into. I think this symbolic act of defiance was a way of saying loud and clear that she's her own person, not Justin Bieber's ex.