A month after calling out "diet culture vultures" who promote "disordered eating" — controversially singling out a frozen yogurt shop stocking sugar-free items — Demi Lovato is urging their followers to resist the urge to praise someone's weight loss.
The singer — who last week announced that they identify as non-binary and use they/them pronouns — took to Instagram Stories on Sunday to post this message inspired by their own experience with eating disorders.
"IDK [I don't know] who needs to hear this but complimenting someone on their weight loss can be as harmful as complimenting someone on their weight gain in regards to talking to someone in recovery from an eating disorder," the 28-year-old pop star wrote.
"If you don't know someone's history with food, please don't comment on their body," they continued. "Because even if your intention is pure, it might leave that person awake at 2 a.m. overthinking that statement..."
Lovato continued onto a second slide, writing, "Does it feel great? Yeah, sometimes.
"But only to the loud ass eating disorder voice inside my head that says, 'See, people like a thinner you' or 'If you eat less you'll lose even more weight.'"
But it can also sometimes suck because then I start thinking, 'Well damn. What'd they think of my body before?'"
"Moral of the story," they concluded. "I am more than the shell for my soul that is my body and every day I fight to remind myself of that, so I'm asking you to please not remind me that that is all people see of me sometimes."
Lovato was 18 when they first sought professional treatment for eating disorders, sharing in the recent YouTube documentary Dancing With the Devil that their bulimia intensified after being raped by someone they worked with during their Disney Channel days.
"I had to see this person all the time, so I stopped eating and coped in other ways — cutting, throwing up, whatever," Lovato says in the documentary. "My bulimia got so bad that I started throwing up blood for the first time."
According to Lovato, their bulimia resurfaced in the years leading up to their 2018 near-fatal overdose. The singer told Ellen DeGeneres that their management at the time was overly controlling in terms of what they ate, which "led me to being really unhappy and my bulimia got really bad."
"I lived a life for the past six years that I felt wasn't my own," they said. "I struggled really hard with an eating disorder but it turned into other things. My life, I just felt was so, and I hate to use this word, but I felt like it was controlled by so many people around me.
"If I was in my hotel room at night, they would take the phone out of the room so that I couldn't call room service or if there was fruit in my room they took it out because that's extra sugar," they continued. "We're not talking about brownies and cookies and candies and stuff like that. It was fruit.
"And for many years, I didn't have a birthday cake. I had a watermelon cake where you cut a watermelon into the shape of a cake and then you put fat-free whipped cream on top and that was your cake. It kind of became like this ongoing joke, but I just really wanted birthday cake."
They added, "I think at some point it becomes dangerous to try to control someone's food when they are recovering from an eating disorder."
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can contact NEDA's toll-free, confidential Helpline at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/helpline.
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