On August 26th, 2007, a terrible short premiered on Disney Channel. It was called As the Bell Rings and I hated everything about it. Every, that is, except for Demi Lovato. Her character, Charlotte, was sweet and genuine. But what really sold me on her was the talent show episode. She performed an original song called “Shadow” and I was in awe of her voice. Little did I know what this would begin for me.
I spent the next few years utterly idolizing Demi. When she got bangs, I got bangs. When she dyed her hair black, I dyed my hair black. (Granted, I was also a pseudo-Goth/emo, but I’m sure a large part of it was her influence.) When she first went blonde, I too went blonde. I followed up on everything she said and did. I bought all her music the day it was released. I watched all her movies the night they premiered and then bought them as soon as they came out on DVD. I saw every episode of Sonny with a Chance more than once. I thought everything she did was an act of god.
Truthfully, I don’t quite know what, precisely, it was that drew me so strongly to her in those early years. Maybe it was because I was a depressed teen and her music was darker than her contemporaries’. Maybe it was her goofy sense of humor. Maybe it was because she was pretty. Probably, it was all those things and some other undefined trait. Either way, the second Don’t Forget dropped, she became my entire world.
Demi’s 2010 stint in rehab changed everything for me. I had already loved her, but the person she was when she came out was something else entirely. She went from the girl I wanted to be to the girl who inspired me more than anyone or anything else. Hearing her story deeply affected me. As someone who has struggled with mental illness for essentially her entire life (I started seeing a psychiatrist in kindergarten), it meant so much to me to see someone speaking so openly about mental illness. It made me feel so much less shame and even normalized everything I’d gone through. I truly don’t know who or where I’d be without her.
Demi was also my gay awakening. Prior to 2012, I had severely repressed my feelings for girls. I was hardcore in denial and afraid what those feelings meant. But Demi quickly made it more and more apparent that I was not straight. She was the first girl I accepted and admitted to being attracted to, leading to my discovery that I am, in fact,
bisexual (and homoromantic, but I didn’t figure that out until more recently) a lesbian.
Nowadays, Demi is my favorite celebrity and pretend wife. She still inspires me, but in a different way. We’re both in a good place where our self-care is more about maintenance than anything else. I admire all she does in regards to activism and charity work. I don’t think I could ever truly explain how much she means to me, but just know I get emotional thinking about it.
Here are some things I consider highlights in my career as a Demi stan:
- Camp Rock: This movie meant so much to me. While I was initially drawn to it because of the Jonas Brothers (and because it’s a musical), Demi was the one whose songs really stuck with me. This movie introduced me to Demi more than As the Bell Rings had and gave me a character I really related to. While these days I prefer the sequel, this movie will always have a special place in my heart.
- Burnin’ Up Tour: In 2008, my then-best friend and I went to a Jonas Brothers concert at which Demi was the opening act. I will admit I didn’t appreciate her performance as much as I should have (in my defense, her album hadn’t dropped yet so I didn’t know the songs). But still, we had really good seats and were a mere ten feet away from her. My only regret is that I wasn’t the girl who screamed, “DEMI!!!!” when she walked out on stage.
- The Release of Don’t Forget: My dad went to Walmart while I was at school and was going to get the CD for me while he was there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t shelved yet. I was devastated. Like, an alarming amount. Fortunately he took me back later that evening and it was there. And thus began my full-fledged transformation into a Demi stan. This album was so different from what her Disney counterparts were releasing. It was dark with a heavy rock edge. For a borderline emo teen, this was bliss. I remember playing this album non-stop. It really resonated with me in a deep way.
- Here We Go Again: I don’t necessarily have a memory associated with this (except that it came out shortly before I went on vacation, so it was my soundtrack for those two weeks). I just really love this album. I still consider it a masterpiece to this day. Way to go, Demz!
- The 20/20 Interview: While she’s opened up a lot more since this interview, this was the first one she gave after leaving rehab. It was the first time she opened up about her issues with self-harm, her eating disorder, and her newly-diagnosed bipolar. For that reason, this interview will always mean more to me than any other.
- “Skyscraper”: I had just started college when this song came out (I took a summer algebra class so I could go right to statistics when fall came around). I remember getting up early before class and firing up the computer so I could download the song. It was number one on iTunes that morning. And then I played that song over and over. It made me cry. It was so emotional and empowering. The pain in her voice floored me. Plus, it was the first non-pop rock song she released (when not in character, that is). It was such a different sound. I would play this song whenever I was upset, sometimes on repeat until I felt better. This song is still the most played song in my iTunes from those days (and yes, I did also play “Heart Attack” and “Cool for the Summer” on repeat when they dropped).
- Neon Lights Tour: At long last, I finally got to see Demi on her own headlining concert. I wasn’t as close as I was for the Burnin’ Up Tour, but I still had pretty good seats. I also went with my cousin’s wife who has become a sort of older sister figure I never had before. It was such an excellent experience and I need to see her live again (hopefully on tour for the new album, Tell Me You Love Me).
- The Grammy’s: And I mean 2016 and 2017. She was excellent in both the 2016 Lionel Ritchie tribute and the 2017 Beegees tribute. She was actually nominated this year. After years of deserving a nomination, she finally got one. And I felt proud by proxy. It’s nice to see my wife being appreciated.
- Tell Me You Love Me: At the time I am writing this, the album has not come out yet (it’s due out on September 29th). However, the title track is out and oh. My. God. I liked “Sorry Not Sorry,” but this song is what is really marking the start of a new era for Demi. You can really hear the R&B influence and her voice is utterly unedited. The album artwork is sophisticated and tasteful. Between this and four of the titles we already know (“Sexy Dirty Love,” “You Don’t Do it for Me Anymore,” “Only Forever,” and “Daddy Issues”), this is already shaping up to be her best era yet. Finally, she is truly sounding like the artist her fans always knew she could be. Even though I’ve been excited for every era, this is a new kind of excitement for me. And I’m so glad to be able to say I was there when Demi truly became Demi.
It really doesn’t feel like Demi has been such a big part of my life for ten years, and yet she has. Time has flown by. I’ve loved growing into adulthood with her and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years bring. I love you, Demi.