Selena Gomez has been in the spotlight for years, with many of her fans having watched her develop into the woman she is today. Gomez uses her battle with lupus to inform others on the seriousness of lupus.
Is this a cause worth following? Is the celebrity the most ideal to promote this cause? Why/Why not?
This is a cause that is worth following. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects multiple organ systems in the body. The cause of lupus is yet to be understood but is thought to be multifactorial, meaning the disease could be dependent on a number of different factors (Roberts 2015, p. 22). Lupus affects 1.5 million Americans and a minimum of 5 million people worldwide, with 90% of those affected being women (Lupus Foundation of America). Lupus is a disease with many of its symptoms resembling other diseases making it difficult to diagnose straight away. The disease does not have constant symptoms, it flares up. One day you may feel fine but the next you’re in pain and unable to move. On average it can take up to 6 years to fully diagnose from the initial time you notice symptoms.
Selena Gomez is a perfect celebrity to promote the cause as she has been directly affected by the disease. Gomez was diagnosed with lupus back in 2015 and due to complications, needed a kidney transplant in 2017. As a female, Gomez becomes an even better candidate to promote the cause. The disease has caused her joint pain and at times has left her unable to complete simple daily tasks.
On the 14th of September 2017, Gomez announced her kidney transplant to her then 126 million fans on Instagram. In the caption for the post announcing her transplant, she linked lupus research to allow her fans to educate themselves on lupus. This sparked a large outpour of fans searching the terms “What is lupus?” into Google. The first time Google saw a large rise in its search engine for “what is lupus?” was back in 2015 when Gomez announced her diagnosis on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The second time was September of 2016 after her interview with People Magazine and the third time being the week after announcing her kidney transplant. The graph below (Rahmani, G, 2017) shows the search pattern for the term “what is lupus?” between the years of 2012-2017.
This shows us how perfect of a celebrity Gomez is to speak about the cause. She has one of the largest followings on Instagram with a total of 175 million followers making her the 3rd most followed person on Instagram in 2020 having dropped from 1st in 2018. Due to her large fan following, she is able to promote awareness of the disease much quicker than other celebrities with smaller fan followings.
Lupus Foundation of America, 2016, “Lupus facts and statistics”, Lupus Foundation of America viewed 4th of May 2020, https://www.lupus.org/resources/lupus-facts-and-statistics
Rahmani, G. 2018, ‘Selena Gomez, lupus and the impact of celebrity health disclosure on public awareness’, Lupus, 27(6), pp. 1045–1046. doi: 10.1177/0961203317742714.
Roberts, L, A 2015, “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: An Update on Treat-to-Target”, Journal of the American Academy of PAs, vol 28, issue 9, pg 22-28, https://journals.lww.com/jaapa/FullText/2015/09000/Systemic_lupus_erythematosus__An_update_on.4.aspx
Today Show USA 2017, “Selena Gomez’s Extended Interview With Savannah Guthrie About Her Kidney Transplant TODAY”, online video, 31st October, TODAY SHOW USA, viewed 4th of May 2020,