Demi Lovato Embraces Being a Role Model & Her Dark Past Makes Her All the More Relatable
I usually don't pay much mind to former Disney-lebrities, but I gotta say, I have mad respect for Demi Lovato. On Wednesday, the 22-year old singer gave an interview with Access Hollywood during a shoot with the Tampax Stay Radiant collection about how she is embracing the position of role model for young girls, especially (not in spite of) the fact that she has perhaps made some bad or unhealthy decisions in the past. "If you live your whole career just singing and just taking pictures and just living in front of everyone, if you don't use your voice for good, it's actually a very vain career, [a] narcissistic career, so I want to use my voice for good and I know that I can do a lot other than singing," she said.
Lovato has had a rough past — she's dealt with addiction and struggles with body image, and has been candid and honest about it, almost to a fault. After Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death, Lovato ruminated on addiction in a message to her fans, saying: "Addiction IS a disease. Please spread the word so we can take the taboo out of discussing this illness and raising awareness to people of all ages." She's also made a point to speak out against girl on girl bashing, purporting instead women supporting women in the pop world, and brought her philanthropic interests into her tour by bringing on Spencer West, a man who lost both of his legs, to speak as her opening act.
In the Access Hollywood interview, Lovato went on to say:
I really embraced the whole role model thing, because when I was younger I realized that shying away from it and denying that I was gonna be a role model, denying it only made me resent the fact that people were putting like, boundaries on me of things I can and cannot do and I think that's why a lot of people shy from it, rightfully so. People sometimes just want to live their lives. At that moment, I knew I was doing a lot of things that weren't right and weren't role model like until the day that I saw everything in the bigger picture. I think it's important for people to realize that celebrities are human beings and that nobody has it easy just because they are a celebrity and people that you think are flawless are actually flawed themselves.
And it's precisely her embrace of the human element of being a celebrity that makes her a great role model. To be clear, I don't think that every female celebrity has the responsibilty to take on the position of being a role model, even though much criticism for women in Hollywood comes as "She's a bad influence on young girls." Rihanna, for example, has said in the past she never intended to be a role model, and that is just fine—it's not her obligation to. Nor do I think that former Disney stars should be held to a different standard of maintaining innocence that other celebrities are not.
But I appreciate when people like Lovato use their experiences like addiction—which could and are easily used against them—to be more relatable role models for young girls to look up to. It's important that young, easily influenced girls get the message that perfection is not the goal, but rather, learning from your experiences and trying to be better.