What it was like to hang out with Demi Lo­vato the day af­ter her big breakup.

How Demi Lo­vato weathers the rough times.

ELLE (Canada) - - In­sider - By Sarah Laing

To ex­plain how two minia­ture pigs ended up on the set of our cover shoot with Demi Lo­vato, we need to rewind to about 12 hours be­fore the pair—one pink and one black and white—wound up loung­ing on a sofa in the W Hol­ly­wood Ho­tel, snack­ing on ba­nanas in the Cal­i­for­nia morn­ing sun­shine.

You see, the night be­fore, the 23-year-old pop star and her boyfriend, ac­tor Wilmer Valder­rama, had an­nounced their am­i­ca­ble breakup af­ter nearly six years to­gether. Five days be­fore that, she lost her beloved great-grand­mother. It was also the six-month mark in a year she later de­scribed as “dif­fi­cult.”

Which is where the mini-pigs­—who had been bathed in laven­der wa­ter and rubbed with co­conut oil—came in. Think­ing that Lo­vato might need cheer­ing up, her as­sis­tant or­ga­nized them as a lit­tle sur­prise. When the singer ar­rived on-set, barefaced and still in her gym clothes from that morn­ing’s work­out, she only spent a few quiet mo­ments with the piglets. (She later con­fessed she thought they smelled a bit “funky.”)

The day was busi­ness as usual, al­beit a qui­eter, more sub­dued ver­sion of the typ­i­cal hair-nails-makeup-wardrobe-shot-wardrobe-shot rou­tine of a cover shoot. Lo­vato is more re­served in per­son than you’d ex­pect based on her public per­sona. She still pre­sented as the strong, out­spo­ken young woman who just re­leased an al­bum ti­tled Con­fi­dent, but she seemed a lit­tle more frag­ile and a lit­tle more tired on that par­tic­u­lar morn­ing. (Later that af­ter­noon, we had to put things on hold so she could take a nap.)

We started the day on the ho­tel’s he­li­pad. It was bright, and Lo­vato was vis­i­bly strug­gling with the glare, de­spite her body­guard hold­ing an um­brella over­head, her sun­glasses at the ready be­tween cam­era flashes.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of the sun!” Lo­vato says when she calls from her car, en route to ther­apy, a few weeks later. “I was tak­ing deep breaths and think­ing ‘I can get through this. It’s just bright out­side; it’s not the end of the world!’” she adds dryly.

“That day was def­i­nitely chal­leng­ing, but I have a strong work ethic, and I don’t like to can­cel things,” she elab­o­rates when asked what she thought of the shoot. “I like to keep busy when I’m go­ing through stuff.”

To say that she has had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence “go­ing through stuff” is like say­ing the five-oc­tave belter has a good vo­cal range. A Dis­ney child ac­tor who rose to fame co-star­ring with the Jonas Brothers on Camp Rock, Lo­vato checked her­self into re­hab for drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion when she was 18 and has since re­ceived treat­ment for bu­limia and self-harm­ing. She has said that, at the time, she didn’t ex­pect to make it to 21.

The ex­tra­or­di­nary thing about Lo­vato’s story is that we’re not now watch­ing the down­ward spi­ral of yet h

an­other child ac­tor play out in the tabloids—al­though in a re­cent in­ter­view, Lo­vato con­fessed that as a 15-year-old com­ing up in the year of Brit­ney’s and Lind­say’s very public melt­downs, she thought that was likely her fu­ture too.

In­stead, we’re hear­ing about re­cov­ery and sober liv­ing from a young woman who had her last drink four years ago. To­day, she is held up as a role model of what a healthy, fit per­son looks like. That she has man­aged to do it while record­ing four cer­ti­fied-gold al­bums, judg­ing The X Fac­tor and writ­ing a best­selling book, Stay­ing Strong: 365 Days a Year, seems like a foot­note.

But it does help ex­plain her im­pres­sive so­cial-me­dia fol­low­ing: 36 mil­lion on Twit­ter, 41 mil­lion on In­sta­gram and prob­a­bly as many on Snapchat, if it were pos­si­ble to see the num­ber of views on the star’s daily up­dates. (On the day we chat­ted, she’d bought a bright-orange Her­mès Birkin and Snapped her $15,000 “im­pulse” pur­chase.)

“Hon­esty gives me a way to re­late to my fans,” says Lo­vato about her abil­ity to con­nect, what­ever the plat­form. “If I’m not hon­est, then I can’t open up to them and they can’t re­late to me at all. I try to in­spire peo­ple by say­ing ‘If I can go through that, you can go through that.’”

Lo­vato has just “re­turned” to so­cial me­dia af­ter a one-day break. She’d sworn off Twit­ter and In­sta­gram af­ter get­ting em­broiled in a some­what bizarre feud with Mariah Carey fans. (She com­mented on a meme com­par­ing Carey and pop singer Ari­ana Grande, say­ing “Mariah is a leg­end and is so tal­ented but con­stantly disses peo­ple. It’s nasty the way she treats Jen­nifer [Lopez].”)

“I came back so quickly be­cause I was like, ‘ You know what? Fuck this,’” says Lo­vato when elab­o­rat­ing on her re­turn tweet of “I’m back bitches. And I’m com­ing back more hon­est than ever.” She con­tin­ues: “It doesn’t mean that I should pun­ish my fans for what my haters say. I’m just so tired of car­ing.”

In the tweets mark­ing her re­turn, Lo­vato also sar­cas­ti­cally noted “That one time I started my own char­ity pro­vid­ing men­tal-health care for peo­ple who can’t af­ford it and this is what y’all talk about.”

Lo­vato, who lives with well-man­aged bipo­lar dis­or­der, re­peats that ex­as­per­a­tion to us. “It’s frus­trat­ing to see my char­ity work over­shad­owed by silly things, but you have to roll with the punches.” That work, which in­cludes lob­by­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment for bet­ter fed­eral pro­grams for men­tal-health treat­ment, is what Lo­vato calls her “pur­pose.”

“The ac­co­lades that mat­ter most to me are the ones that rec­og­nize the work I’ve done char­ity-wise,” she says. “That’s re­ally what mat­ters most. No num­ber one sin­gle can ever top that.” (Those ac­co­lades in­clude a GLAAD award for her ad­vo­cacy of equal­ity for LGBT peo­ple and, per­haps most mean­ing­fully, the tes­ti­monies of “Lo­vat­ics” who credit her rad­i­cal trans­parency with sav­ing their lives.) “It’s the thing that keeps me strong, makes me feel that when I want to give up, I know I have this go­ing for me.” When asked to imag­ine a life with­out her voice, Lo­vato is non­plussed: “I know that I’d be okay. I do so much with my life that is more ful­fill­ing than singing songs.”

Lo­vato is strong, but she’s not bul­let­proof. In fact, she calls her­self “the type of per­son who feels ev­ery­thing.” It hurts her, for in­stance, when she is crit­i­cized in re­la­tion to other peo­ple, which is per­haps an al­lu­sion to the con­stant com­par­isons to her fel­low Dis­ney child stars turned pop stars Se­lena Gomez and Mi­ley Cyrus. “I’m me,” she says. “I’m not any­body but my­self, and I wish peo­ple would stop com­par­ing me to oth­ers.”

And while she finds her value in “the amount of love I give to peo­ple,” Lo­vato has also dis­cov­ered the flip side of that the hard way: “There are times when I give too much to other peo­ple. I’ve had friend­ships in my life where I do so much for the other per­son and it goes com­pletely un­rec­og­nized or I get treated badly. That’s some­thing you don’t for­get.”

A beat, and then the Demi who “just keeps on truck­ing,” the Demi who’s set to go on tour this sum­mer, come hell or heartbreak, is back. “I have to re­mind my­self that life is life, it is what it is, and noth­ing is painful enough to keep me from fol­low­ing my dreams.” n

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