I do not fit the demographic of a Demi Lovato fan. She rose to fame in films designed for the Jonas Brothers and then positioned herself to take Miley Cyrus’ crown as the next Disney princess. During those years, I was a lawyer focused on litigations without a chance, not Sonny with A Chance. I am old enough to be Demi’s babysitter, for goodness’ sake.
Nevertheless, I am a Demi fan. I am a Demi fan not only because the lone episode of The X Factor I’ve ever watched featured her hugging a contestant who shared a story about being bullied – although Demi’s genuine compassion for that contestant was heart-warming.
I am a Demi fan because Demi is the type of reality star I can get behind. She is a star living in reality, insisting that her life be portrayed without varnish or artifice or even air-brushing. She is embracing her challenges, addressing them with the world, and reigniting her career in the process.
Back at the end of 2010, Demi suffered a public “breakdown” that involved her fighting with a dancer from the Jonas Brothers’ world tour. She entered rehab, where she was treated for at least an eating disorder and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Since then, she has become a vocal advocate against bullying, and has worked to raise awareness about image issues.
Much of her message is delivered through her candid self-evaluations. In interviews, she discusses topics ranging from the roots of her eating disorder to her dependency on boyfriends to what “cutting” is. She went as far as confessing to Katie Couric that she remembers feeling fat in diapers, and she tweeted that she spent New Year’s Eve in rehab. As Entertainment Weekly summed it up last summer, “[t]he more open Demi Lovato is, the more we like her.”
Indeed. She is known for having a loyal throng of supportive fans. Her recently-released single “Heart Attack” became the #1 song on iTunes in 14 countries. Simon Cowell wants her back for the third season of The X Factor.
While I won’t be watching or listening to her, I will be rooting for her.
The course that Demi is charting is refreshing. Like many entertainers of her generation or age bracket, she made some bad decisions, engaged in some unhealthy behaviors, and suffered for them, sometimes publicly. Unlike many of her peers, she is copping to her past, trying to take control of her present, and plotting a future that involves something other than illicit leaked videos or mug shots.
Along the way, she is acknowledging some painful vulnerabilities. In admitting the various ways she falls victim to the judgment of the mirror, she mirrors back to us the hang-ups and hesitations so many of us feel every day. Without being obnoxious about it, she blows the lid off Hollywood’s brown-nosery image; no longer can that little enclave of humanity pretend to be the group that Mother Nature and Lady Luck like best. As Demi demonstrates, stars – the believable ones, at least – really are just like us.
Our “relationship” to and with celebrities is complicated, of course. On the one hand, we dust off the pedestals they stand on and direct the warm beam of the limelight to their perfectly-coiffed heads. Part of us loves them because they are so beautiful, they have all the fun, they make it look so easy.
On the other hand, we look for ways to relate to them. We praise them for being down-to-earth, point appreciatively to signs that the glitz and glamour haven’t jaded them. We take great offense at being lied to or played for fools.
So don’t airbrush your way out of cellulite or into a cinched waist. Don’t auto-tune your soundtrack of success. Don’t spin your mistake into a misunderstanding.
Authenticity is so appealing. Imperfection can be the perfect platform. Real life will always be what resonates.
Take note, Hollywood.
Good for you, Demi.
Featured image via The Huffington Post