At Only 19, Demi Lovato Makes A Comeback
Only a year ago, Demi Lovato was one of Disney’s most bankable teen stars, her every move scrutinized by a team of attentive handlers. Yet when an eating disorder and self-mutilation threatened to derail her career, not even her team could see it.
“I had learned how to control and manipulate everyone around me into believing that I was okay,” recalls Lovato to The Los Angeles Times. “I’d go to work on my TV show and, instead of getting lunch, I would go get my nails done or go tan or nap or something. No one was grilling me.”
Demi’s cover was blown last October when she got gully and crazily punched a backup dancer in the face while on tour with the Jonas Brothers. According to the LA Times, the explanation behind the physical altercation remains unclear though a suit brought by the dancer was settled for an undisclosed amount in December. Lovato’s management team, which at the time included Kevin Jonas Sr, the father of the Jonas Brothers, intervened, which was when Demi’s personal issues apparently came fully to light. She was dropped off the tour and checked into Timberline Knolls, a residential treatment center outside Chicago.
Since then, Demi (born Demetria Devonne Lovato) has been surprisingly candid about her struggles. Since emerging in January after three months in rehab, she has been open about her problems, which include bulimia and bipolar disorder. That 12-month journey culminates, she says, in Unbroken, her third studio album, which was released Tuesday and immediately shot to number one on iTunes. Unbroken has a strong R&B influence and includes collaborations with Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Jason Derulo.
Though Lovato is now of legal age and no longer under the critical eye of the Disney Channel, the Times reports she’s in many ways more supervised than ever. After every meal, she checks in with an adult who makes sure she’s eating properly. “Sometimes, I still think to this day, ‘I wish I wasn’t so watched,’” she says. She’s gained weight since exiting treatment—about 30 pounds. And already, there’s been public snarking about her new appearance. After she wore a body-conscious dress at the MTV Video Music Awards last month, her Twitter account was inundated with hateful comments about her weight. That kind of judgment was in part why, after treatment, Lovato decided to quit her lucrative TV show.
“I just felt that being on camera for my first job wasn’t the smartest decision,” she said. “On TV, you have wardrobe fittings, you have four cameras on you at all times, and you’re worried about your angles and your lighting and your shots.”
When she first recorded her current single, “Skyscraper,” over a year ago, she felt so disconnected from the song’s uplifting message that she doubled over in the studio, sobbing. “People just thought I was really into the song,” she shrugged. At the time, Lovato was forcing herself to vomit after eating, which damaged her vocal cords; she blamed the raspiness on acid reflux.
After treatment, Lovato rerecorded the single but ultimately opted to put the original version on Unbroken. “My voice is different now, but there just wasn’t that same spark,” she said. “I wanted to come out of the gate with this song, because a lot of people were expecting me to talk about what I’ve been through the past year. I want my music to do the explaining.”