Feature

Demi Lovato’s hidden anguish

The Disney Channel's teen star was secretly cutting herself and suffering from an eating disorder.

Demi Lovato spent years hiding her pain from the world, said Amy Kaufman in the Los Angeles Times. As the smiling heroine of Sonny With a Chance, Lovato was one of the Disney Channel’s biggest teen stars, whose every move was scrutinized by a team of adult handlers. But nobody noticed that she was secretly cutting herself and suffering from an eating disorder. “I had learned how to control and manipulate everyone around me into believing that I was okay,” says the singer and actress. “Instead of getting lunch, I would go get my nails done or go tan or nap.” During the recording of one song, she felt so disconnected from the track’s uplifting lyrics that she collapsed in the studio, sobbing. “People just thought I was really into the song,” she shrugs.

Last October, she veered out of control. While on tour with the Jonas Brothers, she punched a backup dancer in the face. Finally admitting she had problems, Lovato checked into rehab and began talking with therapists about the childhood trauma that had left her emotionally damaged. Three months later, she emerged healthier and with two new tattoos. The words “stay” and “strong” cover the self-mutilation scars on Lovato’s wrists. “It was very symbolic for me to be able to cover that up,” says the 19-year-old, “and replace it with something permanent that I’ll never be able to forget.”

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