Camila Cabello Discusses 'Ever Present Struggle' of Body Image and 'Supportive' Friendship with Selena Gomez

"I don't feel like I have to pretend around her," Camila Cabello says of Selena Gomez

Camila Cabello is soon to be announced as the headline music artist for the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final Opening Ceremony presented by Pepsi
Camila Cabello. Photo: Pepsi

Despite admittedly not being a dedicated soccer obsessive, Camila Cabello's looking forward to her upcoming performance at the UEFA Champions League final Opening Ceremony in France — for one reason in particular.

"I'm not as big a soccer fan as obviously a lot of the people that are going to be watching, but I do consider myself a soccer fan. It's my favorite sport to watch," the 25-year-old musician tells PEOPLE. "I'm super excited. There's going to be cute soccer boys there, so all wins really."

Set to go down May 28th, the Pepsi-presented performance will take place ahead of the UEFA Champions League final game, where Liverpool and Real Madrid will face off at the Stade de France in Paris in hopes of winning the coveted European Champion Clubs' Cup. Between the two teams, who is Cabello rooting for?

"I think English boys are cute," she says with a grin, "and I think Spanish boys are cute."

Cabello's a bit more focused on planning her extravagant five-minute set, which marks one of the pop star's first major live performances since releasing her Familia album last month. Featuring the singles "Don't Go Yet" and Ed Sheeran collaboration "Bam Bam," the 12-track set is filled wall-to-wall with layered instrumentation produced in-studio with a live band — a rare case in today's largely electronic pop landscape.

"There's something so primal about real instruments. Hearing a guitar, horns, and live percussion just feels like something we need more than ever in this super digital, techy age," says the former Fifth Harmony member. "It felt really grounding to me. That was such a big part of the music I listened to growing up, and I think that's definitely something that is going to be a part of the [Opening Ceremony] performance too."

Camila Cabello is soon to be announced as the headline music artist for the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final Opening Ceremony presented by Pepsi
Camila Cabello. Pepsi

Beneath the album's intricate production lay vulnerable lyrics discussing mental health and relationships, and having endured a very public breakup last year, Cabello's been open about feeling low while starting to create Familia. With the album now out in the world, she looks back on its writing process as a therapeutic "journey" to accepting the highs and lows life has to offer.

"I can hear the journey from the first song written, a song like 'Quiet,' which is like, 'Oh my God, I have anxiety, but also in a cute way,' to the last song we wrote for [Familia], 'Bam Bam,' which is like, 'Life is going to life. It has its ups and downs… but we're moving forward and trying to have a good time,'" she recalls. "I remember the journey, and this album was medicine for me."


Cabello feels far more grounded these days, but she still faces difficult moments. Last month, she posted a lengthy note to social media about getting photographed by paparazzi during private beach trips in her native Miami and the uncomfortable toll it takes on her mental health and body image. Fans responded positively, though the message was difficult for the musician to share.

"I hesitated because I think it's vulnerable to post behind the scenes things like that," explains Cabello. "I also recognize the immense privilege I have and the life I live, so there's always a risk that I'm like, 'Are people just going to think I'm whining?'"

"People can often look at these pictures of celebrities and want to change their diet or aspire to that," she continues. "I thought it was important for me to be like, 'Hey, this isn't necessarily something to aspire to. I might look a certain way, but I've had a really s—ty time, and that's not a good way to be."

Cabello's also aware that opening up about such hardships doesn't eradicate them, but she hopes to help others by letting them know what an A-list, red carpet-walking celebrity like her is really feeling behind closed doors. "I don't have a solution for it, and I struggle with it all the time, even after that post. At the Met [Gala], I struggled with it too," she says. "It's an ever-present struggle, and I think a lot of women feel that way."

The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” – Arrivals
Camila Cabello. Getty

It's always helpful to have a trusted circle of friends to chat through difficult times with. For Cabello, one of those friends is Selena Gomez, who's long been open about her experiences with depression and anxiety and recently launched the brand Wondermind to end the stigma around mental health and spark conversations. "She is somebody that's always been so supportive, a really great friend, and a person with great values. She's super empathetic, loyal, and honest," she details. "We have our own little group, and we hang out, and all of our conversations are real."

"I feel like she's never pretending, and I don't feel like I have to pretend around her. Those are the most worthwhile friendships," continues Cabello, who's inspired by Gomez's authentic approach to celebrity. "Women like her being so vulnerable and honest with their feelings is such a guiding light for me, and I think it's going to alleviate a lot of people coming after her, after me, in the industry, that feel like they have to be perfect."

Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello
Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello. Kevin Mazur/Getty

Seeking to halt negative feelings entirely is unrealistic, especially with societal pressures and social media's constant influence, but much like Gomez allowing assistants to post on her behalf, Cabello's found ways to strike a healthy balance.

"When I start to compare myself to people that I see on Instagram, which literally a couple days ago, I had the same kind of cycle of thoughts," she says. "I was just like, 'I'm just going to delete Instagram and TikTok,' the apps from my phone, and that helps me."

Beyond the sources of stress you can control at your fingertips, Cabello's a strong proponent of taking time to rest and seeking professional help when it's necessary. In fact, she had a therapy session mere hours before chatting with PEOPLE.

"Whenever there's just some sauce on the floors of my brain and it's f—ing wonky in there, therapy's just me cleaning up, sorting it out," she explains. "When you're having mental health struggles, treating it like a broken arm or leg and being like, 'I need X, Y, and Z to feel better,' I think that's important."

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