In her first interview in more than a year, Demi Lovato opened up at the 2019 Teen Vogue Summit about strength, body acceptance, and being her most authentic self.
Demi spoke in an interview with Teen Vogue editor in chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner about how her self image has changed over the past year, and how she’s using that shift in perspective to be exactly who she wants to be. Part of that shift, Demi said, is about recognizing how to accept herself where she is today, rather than trying to change herself to fit a certain mold.
“I think it’s been a very introspective year for me. I’ve learned a lot, been through a lot,” Demi said. This included working on accepting her body as is — which, she clarified, is different from body positivity. “We hear the term body positivity all the time. To be honest, I don’t always feel positive about my body. Sometimes I do not like what I see. I don’t sit there and dwell on it. I also don’t lie to myself,” she said. “I used to look in the mirror if I was having a bad body image day and say ‘I love my body, you’re beautifully and wonderfully made.’ But I didn’t believe it. I don’t have to lie to myself and tell myself I have an amazing body. All I have to say is ‘I’m healthy.’ In that statement, I express gratitude. I am grateful for my strength and things I can do with my body. I am saying I’m healthy and I accept the way my body is today without changing anything.”
As a result of her work toward body acceptance, Demi said she’s been more open to listening to her body when it comes to working out. Rather than pushing herself in the gym constantly to make her body look different, she said she’s returning to the gym after a hiatus and feeling strong.
“For so many years I dealt with an eating disorder. What I wasn’t ever open with myself about was, whenever I was in the gym I was doing it to an unhealthy extreme,” Demi said. “I think that’s what led me down a darker path — I was still engaging in these behaviors. Embracing my body as it is naturally is why I took the month of October off the gym.”
This kind of acceptance isn’t limited to Demi’s outlook on her body. She also said she’s learned that being more accepting of her true self is helping her determine exactly what she wants from life.
“Over the past five years I’ve learned life is not worth living unless you’re living for yourself. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, or you’re trying to please other people, it’s not going to work out in the long run,” she said. “If you want to dye your hair purple, dye your hair purple. If you want to love someone of the same sex, love someone of the same sex. Be yourself and don’t be afraid of what people think.”
Demi takes the same attitude when posting to social media. She recently posted a photo of herself in a bikini, something she said at the time was a huge fear of hers. Rather than worrying what haters will say — because there are always haters — Demi said she’s following her heart and posting what she wants. Still, that doesn’t mean the negative comments and trolls don’t bother her. She encouraged fans to remember that she, and any other person receiving mean comments online, is only human, and things hurt.
“What people don’t realize is I’m an extremely sensitive person. When someone says something mean about me or makes a meme making fun of me, I have a good sense of humor. But when it’s a very serious subject it can be hurtful. Even if you have an account thats like ‘ImaDemiFan,’ that’s the name, and you leave one comment that said ‘You look like Lord Farquaad with that hair,’ I’m like, ‘damn, that kind of sucks,'” Demi said. “I’m so tired of pretending I’m not human. When you say stuff, it affects me. I try not to look, but I see it.”
It’s not only the bad things that Demi sees. She said she also sees the incredible love and support from her fans, which she said helps her drown out the trolls.
“When I’m able to see both sides, it pulls me out from zeroing in on the negative,” she said. “But I’m human and I think that’s important to remember.”
Demi said she also wants the world to remember that she’s a singer. With her personal struggles in the news over the past year, Demi said she hopes people haven’t forgotten the thing she most wants them to know. That said, Demi confirmed that she is coming out with new music — but she didn’t say when.
“I have new music coming. I didn’t say when — now I’m just teasing you. It’s important to remember that I am so cautious this time around of jumping back into things. I’ve really decided to take my time with things,” Demi said. “When the time is right, I will put it out there. I am dying to release new music … but everything in due time.”
Amid all the changes in her life and the buildup to what we can only assume will be a killer album, Demi said she’s confident in herself now more than ever.
“What I see in the mirror [is] someone that’s overcome a lot. I’ve been through a lot and I genuinely see a fighter,” Demi said. “I don’t see a championship winner, but I see a fighter and someone who is going to continue to fight no matter what is thrown their way. I have a lot of confidence now because I have said the things I believe in. I know I can hold my own on a first date with someone, in a conversation with someone. That’s what I see when I look in the mirror — a strong woman.”