In a revealing new interview, Demi Lovato opened up about growing up as a Disney Channel star, including how her old management team normalized her eating disorder, which she said is true of much of the entertainment industry.
“I kind of looked around and had a moment where I was like, ‘Wow. This is so terrifyingly normalized,'” Lovato said in the interview with Bustle, detailing that she used to be given “watermelon with fat-free whipped cream” in place of a birthday cake each year.
Following Lovato’s first stint in rehab at 2010 after punching one of her back-up dancers, she decided not to return to Disney Channel out of fear that she would be silenced from sharing her challenges.
“I came out of the experience with the choice of talking about my struggles or my journey with the possibility of helping people, or keeping my mouth shut and going back to Disney Channel. And I was like that doesn’t feel authentic to me,” Lovato said. “So I chose to tell my story.”
Variety‘s has reached out to Disney Channel for comment.
Lovato’s eating disorder persisted, fueling her opioid addiction and eventual overdose in 2018, which resulted in the young star returning to rehab. This time, she has emerged in a much healthier place, ready to reinvent herself and dictate her own future, she explained.
“I want a career that has nothing to do with my body. I want it to be about my music and my lyrics and my message. And I want a long-lasting career that I don’t have to change myself for,” Lovato said. “Music brought me so much joy when I was younger, and I lost that joy throughout the hustle and bustle of the music industry. I got miserable. And I don’t ever want it to be like that again.”
For Lovato, this meant finding a new management team in Scooter Braun and Allison Kaye, and working harder on herself than ever before – which the pandemic has given her all the time in the world to do.
“Before quarantine, it was very difficult for me to cry. I had programmed the thought into my head when I was 16 that I’m only going to cry if people pay me to,” Lovato said. “I started doing all this work, allowing myself to feel the pains of all the losses that I’ve had or the adversities or traumas that I’ve faced. I think my ability to be vulnerable and be more intimate with people has really heightened.”