Disney is known for creating epic, sweeping fairytales that paint such a happy-go-lucky picture of humanity that you can’t help but be charmed. At the same time, it’s also paid witness to, and created, its fair share of horror stories.
Look no further than Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. Both were beloved Disney popstars who had audiences wrapped around their figure through the 2000s. They were thrust into role model statuses in just their adolescence and were asked to lead an entire nation of young girls looking to them for guidance. They succeeded in many ways, but it always came at the expense of their own mental health.
Their early fame was more of a curse than a blessing: it stunted mental growth, suppressed emotion, and forced them into dark and unhealthy routines as they entered adulthood. The environment had also been the perfect storm for jealousy, self-loathing, and unreasonable competition; it had gotten to the point where Selena and Miley were characterized as mortal enemies battling it out for the ultimate Disney crown.
Here’s a chronology of Selena and Miley’s alleged feud and how the two women have come to navigate this dynamic over the years.
Miley and Selena’s rivalry goes all the way to their teen years when they fell for the same boy
The animosity reportedly developed in 2007 when Selena was cast as Miley’s on-screen nemesis Mikayla on Hannah Montana. As they tried to outshine each other in the show, a similar contest was taking shape in real life. They, in addition to Demi Lovato, were touted as the next set of Disney superstars ready to dominate the zeitgeist. It’s natural that these ladies would feel the pressure on their shoulders and let their insecurities get the better of them. The situation worsened when they started falling for the same boy.
Miley started dating fellow Disney darling Nick Jonas, a relationship she described as intense and borderline obsessive. “For two years he was basically my 24/7,” Miley told Seventeen. They broke up in 2008, and within the following year, Nick became romantically linked to Selena. The Wizards of Waverly Place star confirmed the relationship in an interview two years later and said she’d thought at one point she’d get married to Nick. He was her “first love,” but the romance didn’t last, and she experienced her first heartbreak, too.
Over the next couple of years, a number of small, passive-aggressive, and ultimately meaningless gestures took place on both sides. Miley and Selena never went so far as to slight each other in public, but they did take part in innocuous activities that did signal some kind of hostility. For example, in 2008, Miley and her friend Mandy spoofed a YouTube video featuring Demi and Selena and later justified their act as just “having fun.”
In another instance, Miley was seen chucking a cardboard cutout of Selena Gomez across the stage while performing her song ‘FU.’ Seeing how the song is about addressing someone who wronged you, many people perceived the deed as yet another insult to Selena. Finally, when Selena won Favorite International Artist at the 2014 Much Music Video Awards — a category where Miley was also nominated — Miley took to Twitter to say, “Rigged voting is wack, just saying.” Once again, this isn’t necessarily a direct affront to Selena, but it doesn’t come off as wholly innocent, either.
Today, they reject the feud and have endless appreciation for each other
In recent years, both Miley and Selena have stressed many times how they never had a falling-out in the first place, and it’s only the mainstream media that endeavored to pit them against each other. They’re both wildly talented, versatile, and thoughtful performers; just because they originated from the same Disney machine doesn’t give anyone the right to compare and contrast them as though they are commodities.
I just always grew up collaborating with Selena [Gomez] and Demi [Lovato], and there was never competition.
Miley Cyrus to Capital FM
In a radio program, Miley clarified that there’s “no beef anymore” and that the public is completely capable of enjoying two different musicians without feeling the need to scrutinize them against each other. Furthermore, Miley dismisses the notion that someone could ever replace her in this industry. “When you are authentically yourself, no one can be you,” she said. You’re the only one who does what you do, she said, so you can’t be worried about someone “stealing your place.”
Selena echoed the same sentiment in an interview with W. “We both liked the same guy when we were 16,” she said. She likened their public perception to that of Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff, who were also set in opposition to each other by the press. The 29-year-old said that both she and Miley are “settled” in their own lives at present and don’t have any negative feelings towards one another. Selena also said that just because she and Miley had similar career trajectories doesn’t mean they are trying to mimic each other. Everyone is still trying to carve out their special place in the landscape, so it’s incredibly disrespectful to them and their work if all you care about is their conflict with other women.
We never feuded. We both liked the same guy when we were 16 […] Obviously, she wouldn’t want to be doing what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t want to be doing what she’s doing. But I’m a fan of her music.
Selena Gomez to W Magazine
Over the pandemic, Selena actually reached out to Miley and asked to be a guest on her Instagram Live series Bright Minded, which featured public figures discussing their mental wellness journey and all relevant challenges. Selena complimented Miley’s initiative to raise awareness about the issue and said she had DM’d Miley with a butterfly emoji to begin the conversation. In the episode, Selena revealed her bipolar diagnosis to the public. Miley’s caring, hospitable attitude paved the way for Selena to tackle such a personal, delicate subject on her own terms.
There’s room for everyone on the table
Selena and Miley’s nearly non-existent feud tells us we need to re-examine how we relate with and perceive other women. The patriarchal society we live in will always try to pit women against each other and sow discord among us to keep us oppressed. Togetherness leads to strength, which leads to power, which threatens the status quo; therefore, the forces that be will go above and beyond to keep us isolated and away from other women. That’s not to say that the contemporary music industry is some sort of an evil scheming entity trying to subjugate women, but everyone has their bias, whether it’s deliberate or unconscious.
Selena and Miley may have felt the impact of this bias as they were growing up in the public eye. As they’ve gotten older and have gained wisdom and experience, they know that they don’t need to be in competition with each other. They can be themselves and still perform with pride. There’s room for everyone on the table, so as long as you’re being yourself, you don’t need to worry about someone stealing your crown.