On Friday, just a few weeks after dethroning Kylie Jenner on Instagram, Selena Gomez became the first woman to have 400 million followers on the photo-based social media platform. Jenner is not too far behind with 382 million Insta fans, but Gomez has been pulling ahead fast.
There are still two people with more followers than Gomez on Instagram, soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have 562 followers and 442 million followers respectively.
Gomez has been the most followed woman before, wearing the crown in 2019 before Ariana Grande and then Jenner took the title. Surprisingly, Gomez’s comeback takes place in the midst of her retreat from social media. She recently told Vanity Fair she only has the TikTok app on her phone and has tried to put “filters” in place to protect herself from trolls and hurtful comments.
“People can call me ugly or stupid and I’m like, Whatever,” Gomez explained. “But these people get detailed. They write paragraphs that are so specific and mean. I would constantly be crying. I constantly had anxiety…I couldn’t do it anymore. It was a waste of my time.”
The Only Murders In the Building actress said that social media made her feel “inundated with information” that she didn’t want.
“I went through a hard time in a breakup and I didn’t want to see any of the [feedback]—not necessarily about the relationship, but the opinions of me versus [someone] else,” she went on. “There’d be thousands of really nice comments, but my mind goes straight to the mean one…. There are wonderful things about social media—connecting with fans, seeing how happy and excited they are and their stories. But usually that’s filtered through [for me now]. I created a system. Everything I do I send to my assistant who posts them. As far as comments, my team will put together a few things that are encouraging.”
On Sunday morning, Gomez posted an Instagram carousel of photos with fan groups to celebrate the milestone.
“Wishing I could hug all 400 million of you,” she wrote in the caption.
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.