Photo Credit: Courtesy Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato is working on herself, inside and out. And now the Disney star is showing the world the results -- of the outside part at least.
On Monday, Lovato, 18, posted a picture of herself on her Twitter account wearing just a skimpy white bikini. "I've been working so hard to get healthy and fit," Lovato said in a caption underneath the photo. "I can't believe I'm about to do this but I'm so excited... Here's my bikini time body."
The photo comes after a stint in a rehabilitation center where the star was treated for depression, anorexia, bulimia and cutting. She was released in January and later revealed that she also suffers from bipolar disorder. Lovato said that her eating disorders were sparked by bullying and that cutting herself was a way to release her pain. "(It was) a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body," she said in a 20/20 interview in April. "I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn't know what to do. The only way that I could get instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself."
But Lovato appears to be on the mend. In another tweet Monday, she said, "I never thought I'd ever feel confident enough to ever (show off my body). I'm excited how far I've come since being completely ashamed of my body."
Lovato also wrote that she hopes that her bravery inspires others. "I want any girl/guy out there who struggles with body image or confidence to know that it IS possible to find peace with yourself," she tweeted. "It hasn't been easy, but it starts with a commitment to yourself.. Your mind.. And your soul. And trust me, I'm still working at it!!" she added.
While posting the bikini shot was certainly brave, some psychologists think it might have been better for Lovato to handle her continuing recovery more privately. "For some women, it helps to feel like you are in control of your life, your body, how others see you," Leslie Connor, a Wilmington, Del., psychologist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, tells iVillage. "However, it can be complicated when you post a picture of yourself in a bikini because you know you will be scrutinized by the press and the general public, adding pressure to your self-image and self-esteem."
Another psychologist agrees, saying that by displaying her body, Lovato is only spreading a message of outer transformation. According to Melanie Katzman, a clinical assistant psychiatry professor at Cornell Medical Center, "The message received is often much more about 'physical' success rather than inner change."
That said, Lovato does seem committed to getting healthy. And another way she is continuing to work on herself is by taking some time away from TV. Last month, Lovato announced she was leaving Sonny with a Chance, the Disney Channel show that made her a star. "I don't think going back to Sonny would be healthy for my recovery," she says, because performing in front of a camera, "would make me nervous."
If taking some time out of the spotlight is helping Lovato gain the courage and the perspective to be comfortable in her own skin, then it's the best decision she's ever made.