Shawn Mendes Says We Should Accept Justin Bieber

Shawn Mendes, who graces the cover of Billboard’s September issue, is coming to bat for a seemingly misunderstood Justin Bieber.

Mendes says that the “Sorry” singer deserves some leeway as a human when it comes to making mistakes in the public eye during his adolescence.

“People thought of him as a type of person. But maybe he was the same person the whole time and you guys just didn’t give him a chance to show you who he was,” says Mendes. “Stop ­looking at him in negative view and accept him as who he is. We don’t get mad at punk rock bands for doing shit like [he does], because that’s their personality. I just find it very confusing.”

Mendes says that he can relate to Bieber’s decision to distance himself from his fans due to their “enthusiasm.”

“You’re one person,” explains Mendes. “You can’t let them take everything from you. Because they will — not in a malicious way. They just love you. You have to be careful.”

The “Treat You Better” singer laments about his difficulty in finding happiness in solitude among a sea of fans that would jump to be at his side if given the chance.

“People know me but they have no idea. I can’t be best friends with the entire world, I can’t fall in love with every girl, I can’t be a father figure or older brother figure to every person. But I hate being alone. I just want someone there — to get out of my own head for a minute.”

UPDATE: Mendes is apparently “frustrated” with the way the cover story painted his relationship with his fans. He tweeted the following responses:

Read Mendes’s profile in its entirety over on Billboard.com.