After a four-year-long journey, Selena Gomez finally released her 13-track album Rare on January 10, 2020. If your teen wasn’t a Gomez fan before, they might become one with this new album, as it’s quickly gained massive popularity. It’s a raw, emotional, self-empowering album that discusses freeing herself from her past and beginning to love herself again. Upon its release, Gomez left her fans this heartfelt message: “Now it’s yours.”
Gen Z values authenticity and realness. It’s why they’re drawn to vloggers who talk about their personal lives and celebrities who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable with their fans. This message of vulnerability and openness forms the backbone of Gomez’s new album. Each song tells a story of self-love, acceptance for who she is, and resilience through tough life circumstances. In her hit “Lose You to Love Me,” she paints a picture of a girl who sees the beauty and value in herself after a painful breakup.
After its release, Gomez saw how her words impacted her listeners in a positive, healing way. In an interview with Apple Music (language), Gomez shared, “I think when that happened, I had a moment when I said ‘I completely get it. The agony, the confusion, the self-doubt...I went through that for something like this, for other people.’” There is wisdom in finding purpose in pain. Through the lens of a Christian, that pain can be turned to perfected strength, a renewed mind, and a deeper love for the Lord. Our stories, even the excruciating ones, have a purpose. Talk with your teen about this message and discover their thoughts on the purpose of pain.
On a similar, yet less-emotional note, the title track, which opens the album, sends a message of love and acceptance for oneself:
It feels like you don’t care
Why don't you recognize I'm so rare?
You don't do the same for me, that's not fair
I don't have it all
I'm not claiming to
But I know that I’m special (So special), yeah
And I’ll bet there's somebody else out there
To tell me I’m rare
To make me feel rare
At its core, the song serves to show girls how truly special and beautiful they are—even if someone tries to convince them otherwise. Gomez recounted her inspiration for the song: “[Rare] actually is a word that sums up what the purpose of my position is, which is letting people know that they are completely unique within who they are...It’s like, they don’t fit in, or they feel like they need to be a certain way.” Again, Gen Z is all about originality and authenticity, so this is exactly the type of message they’re naturally drawn to. She knows she’s worth something, and that’s what she hopes her fans will see, feel, and realize for themselves when they listen to her music.
Understanding the balance in Gomez’s album
While the album definitely has some uplifting messages for our young girls, it’s one that requires lots of discernment and awareness. So often, little snippets of truth are almost imperceptibly interwoven with untruths and dangerous ideas. For example, in the song “Fun,” she describes getting into a relationship with someone she knows is bad for her: “You may not be the one, uh-huh / But you look like fun.” This modern message of “do whatever feels good” is appealing, but ultimately keeps us from experiencing the abundant life God has for us because we settle. Contrary to cultural belief, some things just aren’t good for us, even if they “feel” right in the moment.
The album also discusses the ups and downs of life and the importance of letting go of bad situations and learning to truly love oneself—a good message! But the reasons she gives for loving oneself ultimately break down. She (and culture at large) tells us to love ourselves, blemishes and all, simply because we exist, and the way to do this is by putting ourselves first. Do what feels right, no matter the consequences. As freeing as that sounds, it’s actually counter to God’s Word (see this and this) and therefore only leads to enslavement.
Please don’t hear what we’re not saying. This is not a condemnation of finding beauty, value, and good in oneself; it’s simply a reminder that putting ourselves first above all else places us above God himself, which will always leave us feeling unsatisfied. Self-love through the modern lens is unsatisfying because we cannot depend on our own abilities, our own strength, or our own qualities to fill us with everlasting joy.
The Lord actually calls us to a much richer form of self-love. He calls us to love ourselves with full realization of what Jesus did for us on the cross. To practice the freeing self-love God calls us to, we have to see ourselves as He sees us: dirty, broken, sin-ridden people who have been washed, totally cleansed, and forgiven of every sin that weighs us down. Romans 3:24 tells us that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We did nothing to make that happen—and what a relief that is! When we look to the cross, we see that amazing act of service Jesus did for each and every one of us. He—not our own actions—is the source of our life, fulfillment, satisfaction, and redemption.
So the question of self-love turns from “Do you love yourself?” to “Can you love yourself as God loves you?” Can you let go of your past sins, guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy, laying them at the foot of the cross? Jesus didn’t die for us to forget about Him and instead rely on our own ambitions; He wants us to learn to love ourselves enough to see our sins and trials for what they are, and find joy and freedom in the weight of His sacrifice. So while Gomez certainly offers an uplifting message, we can also remind our kids that when life doesn’t go their way, or they do go through that awful breakup, they can find a renewed joy in God in addition to learning to appreciate their own uniqueness.
If your child decides to listen to Gomez’s album, try listening to the songs with your teen and have a discussion about the lyrics. Ask questions like:
- What do you think she’s really trying to say with this song?
- Do you relate to what she’s saying?
- What do you like about the song?
- Do you think there’s a purpose in experiencing pain? What do you think the purpose could be?
- What do you think about the idea of doing “whatever feels good for you”?
- Do you think it’s important to love and empower yourself? Why?
- What does the Bible say about where our power and confidence should come from? Why do you think it says that?
- How can your identity as a Christian empower you?
- Identity Conversation Kit
- Relationships Conversation Kit
- A Parent’s Guide to Teen FOMO
- A Parent’s Guide to Gen Z’s Love of Music