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Recording artist Selena Gomez accepts the award for Favorite Femal Pop/Rock Artist onstage at the 2016 American Music Awards on Nov. 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Jeff Kravitz—AMA2016/FilmMagic/Getty Images

At Sunday’s American Music Awards, Selena Gomez made her first public appearance since taking a career break to focus on her emotional health. After appearing on the red carpet, Gomez was awarded a trophy for Favorite Female Artist – Pop/ Rock and used her acceptance speech to send an emotional message to fans and critics.

“I think it’s safe to say that all of you know my life whether I like it or not,” she said. “I had to stop because I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside. I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”

She continued: “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here [holds chest]. I’m not trying to get validation nor do I need it anymore.” Gomez then thanked fans for staying “loyal” to her during her break. “If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken,” she said, near tears.

When Gomez announced her break in August, she told PEOPLE: “As many of you know, around a year ago I revealed that I have lupus, an illness that can affect people in different ways. I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges.”

She then said she was taking “time off” to be “proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness.” The break followed the release of her 2015 album Revival and subsequent tour.

Read the full transcript of her speech:

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