Demi Lovato admitted in a recent interview that, growing up, she didn’t understand what it meant to be a Latina. Because she was only of partial Mexican descent, she didn’t have the traditional Latina features and considered herself to be white for much of her life.
That mindset actually hurt Lovato, she explained to Glam magazine, because it made her want to fit in with beauty standards that weren’t suited to her genetics.
“Growing up in America, I never really appreciated my culture. I knew what being Hispanic was, but I thought that since I didnt look Hispanic, I was white,” she said in the interview. “I tried to conform to what everyone thinks is beautiful. But my genetics gave me a curvy figure, and Ive come to understand that in the Latina culture, that is beautiful. I no longer look at my body and think, Oh my gosh, I have such a fat butt. Or, I hate my thighs. On some days I dont love them. But, you know, thats one of the things that makes me me.”
Lovato has been vocal in the past about her personal struggle with self-image that led her down the road to binge eating and self-mutilation. The actress/singer told ABC News in 2011 bullying had a big part to play in why she was so hard on herself, and it wasn’t until family and friends sat down with her on tour that she realized she could no longer live as she had been.
“Ive spoken openly about being bullied throughout the past few years, but one thing that Ive never been able to feel comfortable talking about was the effects that it had on my life afterwards, she told ABC News. I literally didnt know why they were being so mean to me. And when I would ask them why, they would just say, Well, youre fat. I developed an eating disorder, and thats kind of what Ive been dealing with ever since. I was compulsively overeating when I was 8 years old, she continued. So, I guess, for the past 10 years, Ive had a really unhealthy relationship with food.
Now, however, Demi Lovato is doing what she can to be happier and healthier, and she understand that being a role model to others means she has to love herself, first.
“Well, you can be the most beautiful woman in the world and see yourself as hideous. You must love yourself. To look in the mirror and tell yourself that youre a rock star, you know?” she told Glam. “Self-care is a big one. Everyone has their thing, and for me its my nails. It sounds silly, but if I go weeks without getting my nails done, I must find an hour to get a manicure. It just makes me feel better. So does taking care of my skin. As a kid Id play with homemade recipes, like putting pineapple on my face to exfoliate my skin and doing facial steams with lavender or peppermint oils. I just loved doing stuff like that. Its what motivated me to launch my skin care line.”
The star also indicated that she follows strict dietary guidelines, not only to be healthier, but to keep her old habits at bay.
“Its very easy for my old eating habits to kick in, so I follow a pretty strict routine. I dont like to call it a diet, because for me its medicine. I have a nutritionist who sends me meals wherever I am on the road. This makes everything super simple,” she explained. “The more active I am, the better I feel and the longer I can stay onstage without losing my breath. Ive experienced a big spiritual shift this summer, where I did a lot of work on myself. Its time I really take my health seriously.”
In addition to working on herself, Lovato has taken her mental health message public, using her time and resources to become an advocate for mental health reform. She indicated that while performing is her passion, it isn’t something that will make the world a better place. Better mental health services are what will do that.