Taylor Swift, arguably the world’s most famous pop star, has lost her crown as the undisputed queen of Instagram to her best friend Selena Gomez.
While Gomez is well-known in the United States for her TV roles, she is less familiar in Australia.
Conversely, Swift’s 1989 album made her a household name in a number of countries, including Down Under.
Gomez, whose first brush with fame was on children’s show Barney and Friends at age 11, became the most followed person on the photo-sharing social media platform last week.
By Sunday afternoon, she had surged to 70.4 million followers. That’s more than the population of the United Kingdom.
But unlike many social media stars, Gomez’s rise to fame has been slow going. Here’s how she became one of the most famous people on the planet.
Her rise to fame
Gomez first came to the world’s attention by being Justin Bieber’s off-and-on girlfriend (currently off).
But for US audiences, she was always more than just a love interest.
She first appeared as a cast member on Barney & Friends in 2002 and then in the lead role of Alex Russo on the hugely popular Wizards of Waverly Place.
That launched a music career – her first solo studio album (Stars Dance) came out in 2013 following three film roles.
She’s since appeared in dozens of feature films and television shows for both child and adult audiences.
Her secret illness
Gomez has the rare disease lupus. The incurable condition affects the skin, joints, blood and kidneys.
She took a break in late 2015 to undergo chemotherapy for the condition.
Those with lupus have a higher susceptibility to other diseases like heart failure and stroke.
Gomez has shown stoicism in dealing with the illness, telling media, “you just have to take care of yourself”.
Her current relationship status
She has also been open about being happily single and has described the heartbreak of her split with pop star Bieber, as “part of growing up”.
“Do not try to date me right now … I’d rather be around women than men. I think they are interesting, complicated, and beautiful,” she told Refinery 29.
Her body image battle
Gomez has spoken about undergoing therapy after being body-shamed.
Both media and online trolls were ruthless in their criticism of a series of bikini photos of Gomez taken by paparazzi last year.
“I’ve been working in therapy,” Gomez told Us Weekly. “I’d land at the airport and people would yell out, ‘You’re fat!’ It was awful.
“This was the first year I ever dealt with anyone talking about my body.”
In what was perhaps a response to those critics, she posed nude for the cover of her album Revival (2015).
Her rise to Insta-glory
Leading US entertainment magazine Vanity Fair came up with a number of explanations as to why Gomez had shot past Swift to more than 70 million Instagram followers.
The magazine argued that Gomez’s limited posting, non-flashy content, loyal fans she’s engaged since childhood and the “Bieber factor” were all behind her follower count.
Her ‘triple threat’ status was also cited as a factor – she is established in the music, television and movie industries.
Gomez also boosted her Instagram credibility by including an impressive number of unexpected celebrities in her posts.
This includes names like Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and Adam Sandler.