Big week for Selena Gomez last week with the release of two new singles after a lengthy absence. But as she’s been saying while promoting the music, she was hurting and she was struggling and now that she says she’s moved past it, she’s ready to share her experience, to put all those feelings into her work. There is no doubt, of course, who she’s talking about, who she was with when she was in so much pain. She hasn’t named him, but everybody knows: it’s Justin Bieber. 

During an interview on the Zach Bang Show, Selena talked about “toxic” first love – via Teen Vogue:

“You're in a phase of life where you experience love for the first time, and I think that can just be just a little toxic,” she explained, echoing the messaging in her new song “Lose You to Love Me.” She went on to say: “You have this codependency that you think is love, and then you have this addiction to the passion and the frustration with each other that you think, 'Oh, that's love,' …. and I believed that for a long time.” 

That is exactly how their relationship worked – and why it became more and more intense every time they got back together: it was like they had to keep upping the ante. In her song lyrics she sings about betrayal and disappointment and about having to release herself from the pull of a person who brought out only the worst in her. Since the music is specifically about this time in her life, she’s out here addressing it on this publicity tour. Which means she’s in the spotlight, taking up space again in the culture, and… well… then this happened: 


A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on



A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

And finally… this: 


A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

So far after 24 hours, he’s not even halfway there. I’m worried – are the Beliebers losing power? Is that a reflection of JB’s own power? Because this stunt, and that’s what it is – a stunt – is a little bit desperate, as all stunts inherently are by nature, especially given the timing. Last week your ex-girlfriend drops a new track that is clearly about how she felt during your turbulent relationship and your wife gets caught up in the drama with a post on IG stories about killing someone. A week later, your ex-girlfriend is making the media rounds in New York and her songs are climbing the charts and …now you’re teasing new music and begging people to beg for it? Selena is having her say. I guess it’s understandable for JB to want to have his too. 

But it’s one thing for Selena to be processing her heartbreak so publicly – after all, she’s single, she says she’s been single or two years, since she and JB last split, so she, really, is the only person she has to look out for. For Justin, it’s not so simple. He married his wife twice, he’s moved on, his heart has been occupied by someone else, he has someone else to be inspired by. So if he’s presumably fixated on what Selena’s doing and what she’s saying about their failed love, and what he wants to say about that failed love, what kind of energy is left for the woman with whom he shares a home? What effect does it have at home? 

Back to Selena – her perspective may be clear where JB is concerned but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other complications in her relationships. On IG stories yesterday, she posted a photo of herself in shapewear:


I’m sure you understand why that might be controversial. Naturally, Taylor Swift fans had something to say about it so Selena ended up taking down that post, replacing it with a new one: 


Was that a soft apology? Here’s the thing – I can’t imagine that Selena was actively declaring that she’s pro-Kim Kardashian. The Kardashians were represented by at least three members at Justin and Hailey Bieber’s wedding. It’s not just her loyalty to Taylor Swift that Selena was upholding by removing the shapewear photo and replacing it. She has thorny connections to that family herself. So I’m curious about how this happened. Is it possible that her stylist picked up the Skims for her and she, without thinking through the links, threw it up on stories because, well, she does look great in that shot? It’s a common social media mistake. You look so good that you forget about… well… alllllll the small and large dramas that you have to remember. 

But this shouldn’t be a problem between Selena and Taylor themselves. They may not be as publicly demonstrative about their friendship as they were before but they’re obviously still very, very close. Zane Lowe played Selena a clip of Taylor talking about Selena the other day during their interview and you can see, Selena gets emotional right away. There’s a catch in her voice and then she gives into the tears. That part starts at the 4:10 mark below:


Selena’s been through it. And Taylor, it would seem, has seen a lot more of that than we’ll probably ever know.