Skip to content

Former Child Star Says She Was "Forced" to Be "Hyper-Feminine"

Demi Lovato opens up about her early days of pop stardom.

With the release of her new album, Demi Lovato is feeling more comfortable with her music and with herself than ever, but it was a long road to get here. After getting their start as a child star, Lovato has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, an eating disorder, and self-harm. In 2018, the singer suffered a drug overdose that nearly killed them. (Lovato is non-binary and uses both she and they pronouns.)

In a new interview with Apple Music 1, Lovato looks back on everything she's been through and how it shaped her into who she is today. This includes times when, as a teenager, the people they were working with tried to "force" them to behave and appear in a way that didn't align with their true self. Read on to see what Lovato had to say.

READ THIS NEXT: Former Teen Idol Says She" Was Living a Double Life."

Lovato says her image didn't reflect her true self.

In the interview, Lovato explained that their first two albums, which came out when they were 16 and 17, were more in line with the rock-inspired music they enjoy and are making today. But, starting with the third album, they wanted to make "radio songs" and around this time, they said, "I started to lose myself as well as myself as an artist."

"It didn't reflect what was what inside of me," Lovato said. "I would get on the stage and I would be in these leotards and these stiletto shoes that I was miserable in. And I danced, I did choreography and stuff like that and I just wasn't happy. I think that led to me completely losing myself to find myself again."

The people she had around her played a big role.

Demi Lovato at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Lovato said that not only was she trying to find herself, but also, at the same time, the people around her were trying to make her into something she's not.

"The team that was around me was dictating my decisions and trying to influence the direction that I was going," the 29-year-old singer said in the interview. "It wasn't even like I just didn't know who I was and this team was following me. It was like, I didn't know who I was, and I had a team that was trying to force me into a direction to be this hyper-feminine pop star. And I was so unhappy doing that."

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lovato has also claimed that her former team was extremely controlling.

In a 2020 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Lovato explained that her previous team was very controlling, especially when it came to her diet. "If I was in my hotel room at night, they would take the phone out of the hotel room so that I couldn't call room service," the "I Love Me" singer said. "Or if there was fruit in my room they would take it out because that's extra sugar." She also said they would check what she ordered at Starbucks on her bank statements.

"It led me to being really really unhappy," she said. "My bulimia got really bad. I asked for help and I didn't receive the help that I needed. And so I was stuck in this unhappy position, and here I am sober and I'm thinking to myself, 'I'm six years sober, but I'm miserable. Im even more miserable than I was when I was drinking. Why am I sober?' I sent a message out and I reached out to the people that were on my team, and they responded with like, 'You're being very selfish. This would ruin things for not just you but for us, as well."

Lovato said that these people turning on her brought up abandonment issues from childhood. "When they left, they totally played on that fear and I felt completely abandoned," she said. It was at this time that Lovato relapsed, and, three months later, she overdosed.

Lovato knows what they would tell their younger self.

Demi Lovato performing during Global Citizen Live in 2021
Rich Fury/Getty Images for Global Citizen

In her Apple Music 1 radio interview, Lovato said that they would tell their younger self now, "'You're beautiful. You don't need to lose weight. You don't need to judge yourself so hard.' But I couldn't have been able to comprehend those words at that time anyways. I just was in a position where everything I did was under a microscope, and so finding myself was under a microscope, as well."

Lovato added, "If I were to have kids and they came to me and said, 'Mom, I want to be in the industry,' I would have to say, 'Please wait until you're 18. Give yourself a childhood.'"

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under