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Another week has gone by, and it seems that yet again, pop princess Demi Lovato is in the news being heralded a body positive inspiration to the world. I have to give major props to her marketing team – they do a fantastic job of keeping Demi in the news as an icon for young women to look up to! And if she helps anyone feel better about their bodies, or helps them feel comfortable in their own skin, then that is amazing and I am so so pleased for anyone she helps. But…. I just can’t help but feel that Demi Lovato is not the shining light of the body positive community, and that she is not the hero we need.
Demi Lovato was once one of Disney’s biggest stars. These days she’s more famous for her work as a singer and performer, as well as for being incredibly open about her mental health and struggles with eating disorders and addiction. I am hugely in favour of celebrities being open about their mental health problems. The more conversations we have about mental health, the more we can all lift the stigma surrounding them and hopefully help many more people.
So, if Demi is being so awesome and open, what’s my problem with her? Well, it’s not strictly with Demi Lovato, and more with what she represents as a wider issue. She’s a perfect example of what is wrong with the body positive community and who is heralded as it’s leaders. She is problematic, she is thin with curves in what society considers all the ‘right’ places, and arguably white passing.
It seems an almost a monthly basis, Demi is in the press sharing her ‘cellulite’, her ‘fat’, her stretch marks, she’s held up as an imperfect woman we can all admire, loving herself in spite of her ‘flaws’, we should all admire her! My problem with this is that the reality is, that Demi hardly has a body that doesn’t fit societies ideals. Her ‘fat’ is essentially non-existent, her cellulite and stretch marks are minimal, her curves are in all the places they are ‘supposed’ to be. She is classically good looking, with perfect teeth, access to personal trainers, dietitians and chefs, hair stylists, and make up artists. Her loving her body is not a revolutionary act to those of us who don’t look like her. For Demi, who has a history of eating disorders, it is a revolutionary act – and that’s amazing – but for the rest of us who need body positivity to help us on our journeys, her body is not our revolution.
When Demi posts pictures of her flat stomach, pinching an inch of skin, it’s the acceptable brand of body positivity the media is allowing us to see. When she shares selfies with smoothed out skin that hide every pore, every mark that makes her unique, it dilutes her message of self love. When she shares photos I have to squint at to even see the stretch marks or cellulite in, I really question the effect they can be having on people. When every photo has perfect hair, ‘no makeup’ makeup, eye lash extensions, smooth skin, where is the ground breaking self love?
My issue is not with Demi learning to love herself; that she has been through so much and now proclaims to love her body is all I could ever dream of for anyone who has body issues. But I wish the media would stop holding her up as a shining light, as the hero we need to learn self love from. For other young women who have bodies outside of societies norms, her body doesn’t represent them. For the plus size boy, the women of colour, the transgender woman who is just starting to transition, the disabled teenager, the child with scars, her body cannot lead their revolution.
We need more diversity and representation in the media, not another slim, smooth body spear heading a sinking ship of positivity.