Demi Lovato: My Body Image Issues Started When I Was 3

The singer tells Katie Couric on her talk show airing Monday that she was still in diapers when she began struggling with her body image

Demi Lovato is at a high point in her career right now, with a new album on the way and a new job as a judge on The X Factor. But just two years ago, the former Disney starlet had admitted herself into rehab for problems with eating disordersself-mutilation and bipolar disorder.

The 20-year-old has seemingly come out the stronger for her admission and has been open about her struggles, even recording a documentary about her time in rehab for MTV titled Stay Strong. Lovato recently sat down with Katie Couric for an interview that will air during the Sept. 24 episode of the host's daytime talk show Katie where they discuss the "Skyscraper" singer's struggles with her body image.

"When I started to having body image issues I remember being three years old in a diaper and rubbing my hand over my stomach," recalls Lovato, who has admitted to being both anorexic and bulimic. "I remember thinking in my head ‘I wonder if one day this will ever be flat?’"

It didn't help that Lovato was bullied in school with her peers calling her fat. She was a successful child star, but her experiences with her fellow students led her down a dark path that ended when she asked her mother to home-school her.

"I also would like to raise awareness of bullying because people don’t realize how badly that verbal harassment and cyber bullying affects you. It played more of a toll on me than if I was physically abused in school," Lovato says. "I’ve always said I wished that they had just hit me in the face and gotten it over with because what they said to me sticks to me to this day and it affected me [turned] me into the person I am today. I was bullied and they called me fat and they called me horrible things. The only way to get through it all was I left school. I called my mom crying and said, ‘You have to pick me up. I have to get out of here. I can’t take it anymore.’"

The breaking point for Lovato happened in 2010 when she snapped and hit one of her back-up dancers. At that point she admitted to herself that she had problems that could likely only be solved with the help of an in-patient facility.

"I made a huge mistake and I ended up hitting one of my friends who was a back-up dancer. I felt horrible, I wasn’t really in control of my emotions at the time and I was just out of control and there’s no excuse for it but it definitely showed everyone I needed to get help and I think two days later I was checking into rehab," she says. "Treatment was so difficult at first, I remember walking around saying 'I’m in prison!' They needed to have those strict rules in order for me to understand how sick I was."

She remembers, "There are tons of things you weren’t allowed to have, you weren’t allowed to have certain hair products or whatever that you could injure yourself with or possibly drink and you were just stripped of a lot of things. I also had somebody watching over me every single time I ate. And if I didn’t finish what was on my plate, and often times I would cry because I physically couldn’t stomach it and if that happened I would have to have little consequences, nothing horrible just not being able to go to the cafeteria to eat."

But the experience has overall been a positive one, and Lovato has been a major spokesperson against bullying ever since she was released from rehab in early 2011. She has started a campaign called "Love is Louder than the Pressure to Be Perfect" that is targeted towards teenage girls -- and we're guessing that her fourth studio album, which Lovato is working on now, will have a lot to do with the struggles she has survived. Good for Demi for trying to make a difference.

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