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3 Things to Remember Before Talking About Demi Lovato's Post-Rehab Weight Gain

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette, The Mighty’s associate mental health editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

It’s no secret that celebrities live under a microscope — and this couldn’t be more true for singer Demi Lovato.

Since her near-fatal drug overdose and subsequent hospitalization, Lovato has been a hot topic of conversation in the news. With people speculating about the exact cocktail of drugs she overdosed on to media sites reporting on the first time she was spotted walking outside her rehab facility — we’ve been kept up to date on pretty much every detail of her recovery journey.

But recently, some social media users have shifted the conversation to body shaming her for gaining weight after rehab. Though some fans have rushed to her defense, we need to remember these three things before commenting on Demi Lovato’s weight gain.

1. She lives with an eating disorder.

Commenting on weight can be especially difficult for people who have body image and disordered eating struggles already. Lovato has been outspoken about her mental health struggles, which include bipolar disorder, addiction and an eating disorder. In her 2017 documentary, “Simply Complicated,” Lovato shared she hasn’t fully conquered her eating disorder.

“Food is still the biggest challenge in my life. It’s something that I’m constantly thinking about,” she said.

Demi Lovato is a celebrity, yes, but she’s also a human being and may be particularly vulnerable to this kind of criticism in the media.

2. It’s better to not comment on Lovato’s weight at all — even if you think she looks “better” or “healthier” now.

Some social media users have defended Lovato by claiming she looks “better” now, and even though these users have good intentions, this sort of weight or body-focused commentary can still be damaging.

Mighty contributor Erica Chau, who lives with an eating disorder, wrote about people commenting on her weight in her piece, “Please, Stop Asking About My Weight.”

Please, do not comment on my weight, even if you have good intentions. Even if you think that saying, “Oh, you’ve lost weight,” is a compliment, my mind will only tell me it’s because you thought I was fat before I’d lost weight. The tormenting internal dialogue, the self-imposed restrictions, the never-ending criticisms whenever I see my own reflection, my anxieties and insecurities only grow worse as I become more self-aware… Please, stop commenting on my weight. Whether I gain or lose weight, I am more than the number on the scale.

3. Weight changes in mental health recovery can be common.

There are many reasons why someone might experience a weight change in their mental health recovery journey. For some, a change in medication might cause weight gain. For someone else, the stress of delving into complex mental health and trauma issues might lead to weight loss. Others might experience weight fluctuations because the inpatient mental health facility may not allow the same level of activity they are used to.

The point is, there are many reasons someone’s weight might fluctuate during mental health treatment. Rather than shame Lovato or focus on her changing weight, let’s just support her and wish her well in her recovery — leave her weight out entirely.

Image via Creative Commons/glennia

Originally published: November 12, 2018
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