Demi Lovato's Most Controversial Moments

The following article includes mentions of eating disorders, sexual assault, and bullying.

Whether you've been a devoted fan of Demi Lovato since her Disney days or you've grown to admire her musical talents over time, it's undeniable that the singer has become a figure surrounded by controversy, especially in recent years.

Apart from being extremely vocal about social justice issues, Lovato has dealt with bipolar and eating disorders, as well as substance addiction. Speaking at the Hollywood & Mind Summit, as reported by People, the star shared that she started feeling better after getting diagnosed. "I knew that if I could help others with their journey, then that's exactly what I wanted to do," she added, "and so I decided to be open and honest about what I had finally learned about myself."

However, Lovato's candor hasn't always been received positively. Despite her intentions to raise awareness and help others, some of her behavior has sparked controversy. From publicly bashing a yogurt shop to starting feuds with fellow celebrities for no obvious reason, it's hard to see Lovato's bigger picture at times. "Demi, stop trying to find things where there [aren't] to look woke and maintain [a] certain level of relevancy," tweeted one person in the wake of one of the singer's controversies, proving that saying whatever is on your mind might not be the best approach. Here are five times Lovato's controversial statements and actions were way out of line.

If you need help with an eating disorder or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

The singer tried to diminish Zendaya's Barbie spotlight

One would think Disney kids stick together, but Demi Lovato proved us wrong. When Zendaya, known for her breakout role in the Disney show "Shake It Up," received a Barbie doll modeled after her, Lovato felt compelled to voice her opinion. The doll, which was modeled after Zendaya's 2015 Oscars look, was meant to honor the actor's cultural impact. "She's a role model who is focused on standing up for yourself, your culture, and what you believe in — that's very relevant for girls," Michelle Chidoni, a spokesperson for Mattel, shared with Today.

However, Lovato deemed it appropriate to insert herself in the narrative, completely missing the mark. The "Camp Rock" star took to her X (formerly Twitter) account to share, "Hey @Barbie, what about a curvy doll or one with true-to-size measurements? I'll model!!" While Mattel has faced criticism for Barbie's unrealistic body proportions, Zendaya's doll was designed with a specific focus on representing racial diversity rather than addressing body image issues. Zendaya herself highlighted the significance of the project, captioning an Instagram photo of herself alongside the doll, "When I was little, I couldn't find a Barbie that looked like me. My ... how times have changed."

Many on social media criticized Lovato's comment, with one person tweeting, "Is Demi Lovato really complaining about [not] having a Barbie because Zendaya got one? I swear, people don't allow WOC/POC to have anything." Lovato has since deleted her tweet and did not apologize.

Her weird feud with Taylor Swift appears to be one-sided

A year after Demi Lovato's bizarre interjection into Zendaya's Barbie story, she sparked an equally unexpected feud with Taylor Swift, despite their prior friendship. It all started in 2016 during Kesha's highly publicized legal battle with her former producer, Dr. Luke. Swift took it upon herself to help Kesha and donated $250,000 to the "Tik Tok" singer. Much like the Zendaya situation, Lovato found a way to make herself a part of the story. She took a subtle jab at Swift via X, posting, "Take something to Capitol Hill or actually speak out about something, and then I'll be impressed."

Lovato continued to criticize Swift the following year in an interview with Glamour. In reference to Swift's song "Bad Blood," which is rumored to be about Swift's drama with Katy Perry, Lovato said, "I think that having a song and a video about tearing Katy Perry down; that's not women's empowerment."

Then, amid Swift's feud with Scooter Braun over the ownership of her early albums, Lovato publicly sided with Braun, who was her manager at the time. "I have dealt with bad people in this industry, and Scooter is not one of them. He's a good man," Lovato shared on her Instagram Stories (via Teen Vogue). Despite Lovato's controversial behavior, Swift doesn't seem to harbor any animosity towards her, as she was spotted fiercely enjoying Lovato's performance at the 2023 Video Music Awards.

Demi Lovato's bodyguard prank didn't land well

As a self-proclaimed social justice warrior, one of Demi Lovato's most controversial moments is the prank she pulled on her bodyguard, which many deemed sexual assault. In 2018, as reported by Buzzfeed, an X user asked Lovato to describe the best prank she had ever pulled. In response, which has since been deleted, Lovato shared the story of how she hired a sex worker and decided to send the woman into her bodyguard's room without his knowledge or consent. "She walked into his room without permission, grabbed him in his 'area,' and he freaked the f**k out, hahahahaha," Lovato added.

As expected, the story caused significant backlash online, with many social media users pointing out the double standard behind Lovato's behavior. "Would someone have hired someone to do that to a woman? I think not, so [it's] also not ok to do it to a guy," remarked one X user, while another penned, "Just imagine if someone did that to her. I don't think she'd find it all that funny."

The harassed bodyguard later said that he wasn't offended by Lovato's prank, which likely encouraged the singer not to accept responsibility for her actions. Instead, she defended herself by pointing out her song about sexual abuse called "Warrior," and claimed that she didn't need further education on the matter. Lovato later compared the situation to jelly beans, posting on X, "I swear I could tweet something about craving jelly beans and it would offend someone." Yikes.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Her hypocritical behavior landed her in hot water

Another moment that made Demi Lovato put her foot in her mouth occurred after she decided to use her Instagram platform to voice her concern over huge crowds at the 2021 Lollapalooza festival amid the COVID-19 Delta variant spike. On her Instagram Stories, as reported by Paper Magazine, Lovato shared a viral aerial shot of the crowd at the Chicago-based event, writing, "Yes, this pic is real. There is still a pandemic happening!!!"

With an estimated 100,000 attendees each day over the event's four-day duration, Lovato's remarks clearly aimed to highlight the potential health risks associated with such large groups of people. However, while her intention was completely in the right place at that moment, the singer pulled a double agent move and performed at another densely packed event shortly after criticizing Lollapalooza.

Much to everyone's surprise, Lovato made an unannounced appearance at the Sad Summer Fest in Anaheim, California, during "All Time Low's" performance. However, people's responses, at least those online, had nothing to do with her musical talent and were solely tied to Lovato's hypocrisy. "She doesn't actually have any true convictions. Just virtue signaling for the sake of it," said one X user, while another quipped, "Make it make sense," referring to Lovato's inconsistent behavior. Despite the criticism, Lovato did not address the issue publicly.

She criticized a small business for carrying speciality varieties

The last, but definitely not the least important, controversial moment of Demi Lovato's was when she bullied a small women-owned business online. Yes, you read that right. In yet another unsolicited rant, Lovato took to her Instagram Stories in 2021 to bash The Bigg Chill, a Los Angeles-based frozen yogurt shop. According to TMZ, Lovato wrote, "Finding it extremely hard to order Froyo from @TheBiggChillOfficial when you have to walk past tons of sugar-free cookies/other diet foods before you get to the counter." At the bottom, she added, "Do better, please" and called the shop "diet culture vultures."

The Bigg Chill, according to a Los Angeles Times report, responded via their own Instagram Stories, clarifying that they catered to various dietary needs, including those of diabetics, people with Celiac disease, and vegans. They also apologized to Lovato for any inconvenience caused. However, the situation escalated, with Lovato sharing screenshots of her direct messages to the business, in which she described her experience in the store as "triggering and awful" and criticized them for not meeting her needs.

Subsequently, TMZ published additional DM screenshots from The Bigg Chill, wherein Lovato told them, "Don't keep going [with] this. You don't want to mess [with] me." After facing serious backlash online, Lovato apologized for her choice of words and stated that her actions stemmed from a need to feel safe while shopping for food.