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Demi Lovato reveals her mum's eating disorder triggered her own body image issues

Lauren Clark
·3-min read
Demi Lovato has opened up about first feeling
Demi Lovato has opened up about first feeling "fat" when she was a toddler. (Getty Images)

She has become a passionate voice for body acceptance after struggling with anorexia and bulimia for a number of years.

Now, Demi Lovato has recalled how the root of her body image issues began when she was a child, with her mum Dianna De La Garza's own eating disorder.

Speaking to The Sunday Times magazine, the 28-year-old singer and actress – who survived a drug overdose in 2018 – said she was two years old when she first felt fat.

She explained: "I remember being in pull-ups, still potty training, and running my hand over my stomach. That was the beginning of the rest of my life with body image issues.

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"It never went away in my whole childhood. I always felt like I was larger than other kids.”

Lovato said that her parents' acrimonious divorce left her mum with an eating disorder, which had a knock-on impact on her own relationship with how she looked.

She explained: “Me being a toddler and seeing my mom at 80 pounds. I think that really cemented the body image issues I had.

"That was the first role model for food that I had. I’m not pointing fingers. She did the best that she could.”

Read more: Demi Lovato says she's embracing body acceptance, not positivity

In her new four-part YouTubeOriginals documentary, Dancing With The Devil, Lovato details how from her teens a chef and a nutritionist controlled her diet, while a gym instructor was charged with encouraging her to exercise.

Additionally, assistants would monitor her the night before photoshoots to ensure she didn't binge, friends weren't allowed to eat in front of her and she celebrated her birthday one year with iced watermelon.

The star said: “Ultimately, controlling somebody and their food, or their behaviours, is not going to lead to sustainable recovery.”

She also explained that her eating disorders were also fuelled by being raped, as a 15-year-old virgin, by someone in her industry.

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At 18, Lovato checked into rehab for help with bulimia, as well as cocaine addiction, depression, bipolar disorder and self-harm.

However, by 25 years old – the age she overdosed – her bulimia and body image issues had returned, and she felt "miserable" and "burnt out".

Shortly after the sixth anniversary of her going sober in April 2018, she relapsed and consumed alcohol and drugs - and that July she was hospitalised after taking opioids laced with fentanyl, suffering three stokes and a heart attack.

In February 2020, she told the podcast Pretty Big Deal With Ashley Graham that she had incorrectly thought she was recovering from her eating disorder when she became obsessed with "extreme dieting" and over-exercising.

She said: "I thought the past few years was recovery from an eating disorder, when it actually was just completely falling into it.

"Maybe my symptoms weren't as obvious as before, but it was definitely an eating issue."