As you are probably aware, Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber stunned fans over the weekend when they were pictured together for the first time.
Photographer Tyrell Hampton caught the sweet moment at the second annual Academy Museum Gala in Los Angeles on Saturday night, with the picture emerging online the next day.
In the photo, the two stars are leaning into one another and look like the best of friends as they pose together. Other photos from the night show Selena and Hailey sharing a hug and smiling for the camera.
While you may have seen the photos in question floating around social media and heard whispers of how momentous they are, you might not actually know the full significance of them.
Hailey and Selena’s united front comes after years of the two women being pitted against each other over Justin Bieber.
The stars’ fandoms have been at loggerheads since 2018, with both Hailey and Selena publicly reacting over the years after being targeted with online hate.
To understand exactly how messy the entire situation is, we have to go back to 2011 — when Selena first began her seven-year on-again, off-again relationship with Justin.
The two former child stars first went public with their romance in February 2011. They split for the first time in November the following year, and reconnected in April 2013.
This pattern continued for many years, and during their time apart, both Selena and Justin would date other people.
Hailey first came onto the scene in 2014, with Justin forced to deny that they were dating as he posted a selfie with her to Instagram and said she was a “good friend.”
Ironically, Hailey was a huge “Jelena” shipper before she and Justin started dating and would regularly tweet about him and Selena as a couple when she was a teenager.
In 2011, she wrote: “I don’t care what anyone says but Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez together is the definition of a teenage dream!”
The following year, she said that Selena was “beyond flawless” and Jelena were the “perfect relationship” as she joked that she will be “forever alone.”
Hailey was around 15 at the time, and her Twitter account has since been deleted. Neither she, Selena, nor Justin have ever acknowledged the tweets.
Meanwhile, Justin and Selena’s last attempt at a relationship took place between November 2017 and March 2018, and Justin reconnected with Hailey three months after the split.
They ran into each other at a Miami press conference for their church in June 2018, and Hailey recalled Justin saying at the end of their chance encounter: “We’re not going to be friends.”
The following month, Justin proposed and he and Hailey were legally married in a private courthouse ceremony in September 2018 — just six months after his and Selena’s latest breakup, and after almost eight years of their tumultuous relationship.
Because of this quick turnaround in Justin’s romances with Selena and Hailey, the two women have often found themselves at the center of vicious attacks and internet drama.
“I do not stand for women tearing women down,” she told her followers. “I will never, ever be by that. So please be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, if you’re my fans don’t be rude to anybody, please.”
“Don’t go off and say things that you just feel in the moment… Please, for me, know that that’s not my heart,” Selena went on.
And Hailey attempted to show solidarity with her husband’s ex, liking one of Selena’s Instagram photos in 2019 as well as Elle magazine’s post that had Selena as its cover star in August 2021.
A source previously told Us Weekly that Hailey hoped that liking photos of Selena would show fans “there are no hard feelings.” The insider added: “It’s her way of trying to make peace and show her support for Selena in a low-key, yet public way.”
But her efforts appeared to be fruitless, and in April of this year, Hailey seemingly referenced the fact that she is still receiving nasty messages from Selena’s fans.
While she didn’t get into specifics, she said in a TikTok video: “Leave me alone at this point. I’m minding my business. I don’t do anything, I don’t say anything. Leave me alone please. Enough time has gone by where it’s valid to leave me alone. I beg of you, truly. That’s my only request. Leave me alone. Be miserable somewhere else. Please.”
And the attacks went both ways, with Selena targeted by Hailey’s fans the following month when they accused her of shading Hailey after she posted a video of her skincare routine to social media.
Selena did not speak throughout the entire clip, let alone make reference to Hailey, but some claimed that she was mocking Hailey’s recent “Get Ready With Me” post as comparisons were quickly drawn between the two videos.
Selena apologized at the time but admitted that she had “no idea” what she’d done wrong. She commented on the video: “This is why I believe in taking care of your mental health. Guys no idea what I did but I really am sorry. Zero bad intention. Deleting soon.”
And then last month, Hailey directly addressed the pseudo-feud between her and Selena on the Call Her Daddy podcast, where she stressed that her relationship with Justin did not overlap with Selena in any way.
“When him and I ever started hooking up or anything of that sort, he was not ever in a relationship ever, at any point. It’s not my character to mess with someone’s relationship,” she said on the podcast. “I would just never do that. I was raised better than that. I’m not interested in doing that and I never was.”
“That was a situation where I know for a fact that it was the right thing for them to close that door; they were not in a relationship at that time,” Hailey later added. “But, of course, there’s a very long history there and it’s not my relationship.”
“It has nothing to do with me so I respect that a lot, but I know that it closed a chapter and I think it was the best thing that could’ve happened for him to move on and be engaged and get married and move on with his life in that way,” she went on.
Acknowledging the backlash to her and Justin’s relationship, Hailey admitted that their wedding was “really drastic and really crazy” but insisted that it was the right decision. “The only people that really know the truth of the situation and what the timeline really was and how it happened and how it went down are me and him,” she said.
And Hailey was keen to reiterate that there’s “no drama” between her and Selena, saying: “I respect her, there’s no drama personally.”
She also revealed that they’d had a conversation that brought her “a lot of peace” and “it’s all love.” Hailey explained: “That’s also why I feel like if everybody on our side knows what happened and we’re good and we could walk away from it with clarity and respect, and that’s fine.”
At the time, Hailey received backlash from Selena’s fans for speaking about Selena so publicly, and the singer responded by encouraging her followers to be kind during a TikTok Live.
While she did not address Hailey by name, Selena said that some things she’d seen online are “just vile and disgusting” and “not fair.”
“No one ever should be spoken to in the manner that I’ve seen,” she went on, before reiterating the importance of being “kind” to other people online.
Despite both Selena and Hailey spending the last few years being nothing but open about their desire to get on with their lives with no hard feelings for the other, they’ve been consistently treated as rivals.
However, the weekend’s pictures now serve as a visual representation of their united front, and many people have shared their hope that it’ll mark an end to the drama.
“I’m sorry but if you can’t tell Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber genuinely have no problems with each other and you as fans are the issue then idk what to tell you. Please end the drama,” one person tweeted.
Another echoed: “Kinda iconic that hailey and selena attending the same event were able to take a picture together after y’all’s delusional theories about them hating each other…it’s time to put it to rest and move on.”
And one more summarized: “This is a truly iconic moment in pop culture. I hope this ends the constant comparison between Hailey and Selena & people online can finally move on.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.