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Selena Gomez Felt ‘Violated’ During Her Days As A Child Star

She describes the moment she almost left the spotlight for good

Selena Gomez, who broke into stardom on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, has spoken a bit about the dark side of being a child star. But in her revealing new cover story for Business of Fashion, Gomez pointed to a specific turning point about 10 years ago, when her fame took a drastic turn.

“I started getting known for things that weren’t [related to] my work,” Gomez said. “That’s when my passion started to really feel like it was going further and further away. And that scared me.”

Performing for 100 people at state fairs was the “best feeling in the world,” but as she told the magazine, “When I got older, I started to become exposed to the truth behind some stuff and that's when it flipped a little bit. I realized that, 'Oh this is actually really hard, and kind of slimy in certain areas,' and I didn't realize that certain people wanted certain things from me.”

When asked about that scary turning point, the 25-year-old recalled the icky feelings she got when paparazzi invaded her privacy.

“I remember just feeling really violated when I was younger, even just being on the beach. I was maybe 15 or 16 and people were taking pictures — photographers,” she recalled. “I felt very violated and I didn’t like it or understand it, and that felt very weird, because I was a young girl and they were grown men. I didn’t like that feeling.

“Then, I would say the last season of my show, I was probably 18 years old, is when I felt like the flip happened,” she continued. “I didn’t feel like it was about my art as much. I was on the fourth season of the show, and I felt like I was outgrowing it. I wanted something different and obviously I fell in love for the first time. There was all this stuff that was happening and I didn’t know what to do.”

Since then, Gomez has taken periodic breaks from the spotlight to focus on herself and her mental health. But she keeps coming back to music and acting because, at the end of the day, she’s still passionate about her art.

“It didn’t mean that I didn’t love it, I just had to find what I was going to do with it,” she said of those breaks. “As long as I’m healthy and happy in my mind, I’m all about it.”