Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

The Breakdown on the Hailey Bieber v Selena Gomez drama – consider all the tea spilt!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

What happened?

On February 22, Selena Gomez posted a TikTok video in which she, ironically, stoked rumours of a feud with a different ex-partner’s ex-partner, by stating that she “wished she was a pretty as Bella Hadid.” Bella Hadid and The Weeknd dated on and off for a few years, and Selena also dated The Weeknd during one of his and Bella’s breakups, leading people to speculate that there was bad blood between Bella and Selena. Anyway, let’s return to the TikTok. After Selena applauded Bella’s beauty, she went on to contrast her (apparent) lack of beauty by jokingly pointing out she was no Bella Hadid, because she’d somehow wound up over laminating her eyebrows. Later, Kylie Jenner posted a screenshot of her eyebrows to Instagram (Kylie is friends with Hailey Bieber, and Hailey is married to Selena’s ex, Justin Bieber). The snap was accompanied by the caption “This was an accident?” and Hailey Bieber was tagged in the post. If Selena’s TikTok from a few hours earlier had soothed any tensions with Bella Hadid, Kylie’s post was gasoline to an open flame. It didn’t take long for people to brand Kylie and Hailey as “mean” girls and begin taking sides between Selena and Hailey. Like with Bella, fans have also speculated about the relationship – or the lack of a cordial one, anyway – between Hailey and Selena. Selena herself stoked the fire of resentment towards Hailey by affirming Kylie’s backtrack on her post (“This is reaching” Kylie wrote on TikTok) but did not comment anything about Hailey. Selena’s silence spoke volumes, allowing fans to happily assume that she was in fact feuding with Mrs. Bieber.

Who’s right?

If you search for the terms “Hailey versus Selena” on Google, some of the first YouTube videos that pop up are entitled, “Justin Bieber’s PETTY response to Hailey and Selena Gomez’s DRAMA.” and “Hailey Bieber is OBSSESSED with Selena Gomez.” The internet, it would seem, is firmly in Selena’s corner. The narrative that Justin was a poor partner to Selena is not a new one, though, and I’d wager that Selena’s had a store of goodwill built up amongst the public for some time now, at least in this regard. For now, it’s very much a case of “stan Selena, unfollow Hailey.”

What does it really mean?

Women are not newcomers to being pit against one another, whether it be in the public or private spheres of life. But, in picking sides between Selena and Hailey, what a lot of us could be missing is this crucial fact: in picking a side, you’re not any more or less “right” than the next person. Nor, in fact, are you (or we) actually helping anyone! The woman vs woman trope is an old one, and it assumes many different themes: wife vs mother-in-law (think that of the film Monster in Law), sister versus sister (think Gigi Hadid vs Bella Hadid, or Kendall Jenner vs Kylie Jenner), best frenemies, and here, wife vs ex-girlfriend. There’s a reason that the phrase “divide and conquer” rings so true, even today, and it’s worked perfectly with regards to Selena and Hailey. While we’re all picking sides and squabbling about which woman is in the right, we’re missing the truth: the only agenda being furthered by debating about Hailey and Selena is that of the patriarchy.

When women are pit against each other as antithetical people (one good, one bad), a lot of nuance and agency is lost for those women. After, by branding Hailey Bieber a “mean girl” which, granted, sure has been accused of being many a time, we seem to be simultaneously absolving her counterpart, Selena, of any guilt. And yet, absolving Selena is impossible, because that denies her personhood and agency. Selena has a say and role in the drama that’s unfolded, and she’s pointedly chosen not to address Hailey in any capacity. Similarly, by making Hailey the “bad” person in this scenario, we turn her into a one-dimensional villain and not a grown woman with flaws, feelings, and that capacity to make rational decisions. Objectively, it’s likely difficult for either Hailey or Selena to fully remove themselves from the drama that’s unfolded, especially after years of being pit against one another, but we, as bystanders of sorts, can do so.

So: let’s all stop helping the patriarchy by picking sides, okay? Woman-on-woman drama is a loss for us all!  

I am a aspiring writer, currently majoring in English and Film Studies.