By Kristin Sidorov
She started out just like any other teen star, fresh-faced and enjoying the Hollywood spotlight. But in 2010 at the tender age of 18, singer Demi Lovato checked into treatment for emotional and physical struggles that the starlet—now on the mend—isn’t shy about sharing with the world.
Lovato, who last night hosted the Teen Choice Awards and appeared healthy and confident, has been candid about her battles with body image, eating disorders, depression, and self-harm. She’s given new attention to an unfortunately not-so-new story: the pressures young women place on themselves to fit society’s ideals. And while Lovato’s issues go a bit deeper, (she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in treatment) she makes it no secret that her intense anxiety stemmed from overwhelming pressure and a very unhealthy body image.
Her openness, especially about cutting, has launched a discussion about a common disorder that is often hidden or undetected by loved ones. The motivations for self-harm are varied, but it’s often a coping mechanism for an extreme emotional issue, like anxiety or depression, and the risks can be life-threatening.
Now that she’s healing—which Lovato credits to her treatment, regular meditation, and giving up her cell phone—the young star is starting over again at 19 years of age. She hopes her ordeal can teach something to younger generations of girls. While many are wary of her new “role model” status and others see her story as nothing more than one of many childhoods lost to the harshness of teen stardom, in the end, there’s no denying that her tale is a cautionary one.
The struggles Lovato faced aren’t only that of a young star facing the pressures of Hollywood, but also that of a young girl facing the standards of perfection that have somehow become normal for teens trying to find their place in the world.
Emotional and physical health can be a slippery slope under this pressure, and Lovato can at least open our eyes to the fact that fixing this problem needs to start with acceptance and a lot of slack for girls going through the difficult transition to women. A new, healthy perspective and alternative ways for young women to cope, such as de-stressing techniques, alone time, yoga and meditation, and giving girls a healthy forum could be a big step in making a difference.
Photo by Getty Images
Get fit. Find nutrition facts. Live a healthy lifestyle. Sign up for our newsletter!