In my mind, Demi Lovato has always been a role model.
I loved her when she was figuring out exactly where she was supposed to be in Camp Rock, I tried to emulate her fashion sense and hairstyles when she starred on Sonny with a Chance and I think I still have the special edition of PEOPLE magazine where they profiled her and Selena Gomez.
While early-success Demi was always an inspiration to me, it was when she started being open with the public about her struggles that she really showed us what a great role model she is.
Some of you may disagree with me on this. When she was a teenager in the limelight, Lovato was a cocaine, adderall and alcohol addict who, even after treatment and the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, continued to use for years.
I still remember the day the news broke of Demi punching one of her backup dancers while on tour with the Jonas Brothers for Camp Rock 2. Considering she was in the squeaky clean Disney squad at the time, it’s safe to say it was a surprise.
Lovato discusses this and more in her new documentary Simply Complicated which premiered on YouTube on Oct 17.
The documentary starts with Lovato setting up to start a lengthy interview — “the last time I did an interview this long I was on cocaine.” From that moment on, Lovato opens up about everything she’s had going against her in her rise to fame — from her substance abuse to her struggles with mental health.
Lovato takes us through her years as a pageant girl, to starring on Barney and Friends, As the Bell Rings and her time spent on the Disney Channel, to her eventual breaking point.
Lovato talks in depth about her first time using drugs and the reasons behind her decision. She was 17 at the time and influenced by her father, Patrick Lovato, who died of cancer in 2013, being an addict himself.
Lovato isn’t the only teen who struggled with substance abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 14.3 per cent of US 12th graders have used illicit drugs other than marijuana.
The documentary then turns to focus on how Lovato moved past these hardships. What finally convinced her to declare sobriety was when her manager came to her and told her, along with everyone else who worked with her, he was going to walk if she continued using.
Lovato was 19 when she got sober.
Another struggle Lovato opens up about for the first time in Simply Complicated is her eating disorder. She explains she started binging and purging after a group of girls in her elementary school started a suicide petition — signed by her classmates — telling her to kill herself.
While Lovato has proudly stayed sober for five and a half years despite these tragic hardships, her documentary reveals her eating disorder is something she continues to struggle with to this day.
At one point Demi looks at the camera with a smile:
“When I am comfortable in my own skin I am confident, when I feel confident I feel sexy, and when I feel sexy, watch out.”
For me, Lovato’s Simply Complicated affirms she is the ultimate role model — she’s been through so much and yet is willing to open up about her struggles and her journey to recovery to reassure people they’re not alone.
While she wasn’t always the most popular Disney character, Lovato was the one who ended up inspiring us the most.
Her fearlessness, honesty and accountability is something she’s maintained throughout her life. Her documentary is a reminder that everyone has their own personal burdens and everyone has the ability to persevere through them.
Simply Complicated tells us what we already know about Lovato. She’s an extremely strong person whose struggles and perseverance make her such an important person in pop
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