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‘Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me’ Sparks Discussion on Toxic Friendships, But is it Fair to Judge?

After the release of Selena Gomez’s Apple TV+ documentary “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” on Nov. 4, people online were quick to discuss the relationship between the singer and her close friend, Raquelle Stevens. The documentary gives viewers an inside look at Gomez’s challenges with lupus, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

There were a few scenes that left viewers scratching their heads over how genuine the friendship between the two is. Stevens is credited as a “special appearance” in the documentary, and “Raquelle” even became a trending topic on social media.

Celebrities are free to share their lives with us on social media, but should we really judge and nitpick their relationships?

They have the added pressure of living their lives with millions of eyes on them, and Gomez has dealt with this since she was a teenager. The general public’s interest in the rich and famous has led to precarious situations in the past, like when Britney Spears shaved her head in 2007, and Amanda Bynes’ public mental health challenges in the early 2010s. 

Stevens has been friends with Gomez for over ten years, and is often featured on Gomez’s Instagram and alongside her on HBO Max’s “Selena + Chef.” Die-hard Selena Gomez fans are familiar with Stevens, but to many people, watching her in the documentary was their first introduction to her. 

It takes approximately 95 minutes to follow Gomez’s journey in “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” which was filmed over the course of six years, making it difficult to give an accurate representation of her friendship with Stevens. 

In the documentary, Stevens was seen walking into a room without acknowledging Gomez while she was fighting nerves ahead of a speech she was giving at McLean Psychiatric Hospital’s annual gala, only speaking to her after Gomez greeted her. 

A second instance of controversial behavior occurred during the pair’s 2019 trip to Kenya, where Gomez wanted to see her work with WE Charity in action. The star was enjoying getting to know the young women the organization impacted, but at the tail end of the trip, Stevens told her that they were “escaping reality,” in an attempt to bring Gomez back down to earth.

The scene that left everybody talking was the confrontation between the two during Gomez’s London press tour. Stevens tells her that they have to go to a mutual friend’s birthday dinner the night they arrive home, and Gomez tells her that she’s not going because she has to shoot a music video the next day. Stevens responds by saying, “nice,” which leads Gomez to ask her, “Do you think that I’m complaining about my job?” She admits that she does think that, and the singer eventually leaves the room in frustration.

People online are now torn on Stevens, and debating whether she is a “fake friend,” or the honest friend Gomez needs as she navigates her life.

Although celebrities choose to share their lives with their fans, that doesn’t mean we know everything that happens behind closed doors, nor that we should be projecting our experiences onto them. It’s normal for friendships to go through ups and downs, and if things between them were really grim, they wouldn’t be in each others’ lives. 

A person’s mental health — no matter what their status in the world is — is a delicate thing, and you never know what could break it. If you take one thing away from “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” it should be the message of having empathy for others no matter the situation they are in.

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