When the 18-year-old singer Demi Lovato left the Jonas Brothers tour over the weekend, her representative said that Disney star was taking a break “in order to seek medical treatment for emotional and physical issues she has dealt with for some time.” A source close to Lovato’s family said: “She fought through eating disorders and has struggled with cutting. [She] is taking control by getting help.”
The source confirms that a fight with a dancer on tour was the catalyst for Demi Lovato’s decision to seek treatment. According to another insider, Demi Lovato “doesn’t have that same kind of love for life that she at one point had.”
The insider tells People magazine, she was already struggling with her weight when she entered her teens: “She definitely had body-image issues. She was always conscious of her weight.”
“Like many other teenage girls, she struggled a lot to fit in and find acceptance,” says a family friend. “She’s very sensitive, very intuitive and that is part of what makes her a wonderful performer – very talented. It is double-edged sword. I think she felt that the hard time she had [in school], problems with kids who were incredibly vicious made her stronger. But none of us feels strong every day.”
Demi Lovato was in the midst of the South American swing of the JoBros’ “Camp Rock” tour, and TMZ reported that she recently got into a physical altercation with a female on tour with her, an incident her reps did not confirm at press time.
Nearly two years ago, Demi Lovato denied speculation that she was prone to self-mutilation after photos appeared of her with marks on her wrist. Her publicist at the time said that the marks were from gummy bracelets.
Amid heightened attention over bullying in the wake of a string of suicides by teens who were taunted for their sexuality, Lovato teamed with the PACER Center as part of their “Teens Against Bullying” campaign last month to bring some hope to kids who’ve been harassed by peers.
The “Sonny With a Chance” star wrote an emotional letter to fellow bullying victims, telling them, “I was bullied in middle school. It got so bad I chose to leave and be home schooled. Many people think of bullying as getting beat up in school, but it is so much more than that. For me it was all of the verbal harassment I had to deal with. People say sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never hurt you, but that’s not true. Words can hurt. They hurt me. Things were said to me that I still haven’t forgotten.”
Demi Lovato, who also appeared in a public service announcement about the issue, explained that she was lucky to have very supportive parents and other educational options, as well as outlets like music and acting to help her make it through.
“I actually used all of the bullying as a motivation to succeed,” she said. “I think I have actually become a stronger person because of it. But I know that many kids and teens do not have all of the support and outlets I have, and that’s why I want to do something about bullying. I want to make it stop. And I’ve teamed up with PACER and TeensAgainstBullying.org as their spokesperson to create a movement.”
Demi Lovato acknowledged those body issues in September. “I have a tattoo on my rib and it says, ‘You make me beautiful,’” she said. “There was a song that inspired me when I was younger and it helped me through a really rough time I used to have self-image issues.”
The singer-actress added, “Feeling comfortable in your clothes is something I deal with to this day. I wish I had somebody I had to look up to when I was younger to stand up and say, ‘Hey, I have fat days.’ So I want to be able to start a foundation or something that’s for girls feeling confident, to empower them.”