Demi Lovato has been open about her struggles with anorexia, bulimia, and cutting. But what she revealed on Katie Couric's new talk show, Katie, made my jaw drop open. Demi says that she first remembers wishing she was skinnier when she was a toddler! This is normally the kind of thing you imagine hits girls when they become teens or tweens and start to become aware of their sexuality and women's images in the media. But Demi says she was 3 years old when the idea that she was somehow too fat hit her. This is just crazy. Listen to what she has to say.
Demi told Katie:
I remember being three years old in a diaper and rubbing my hand over my stomach. And I remember thinking in my head, "I wonder if one day this will ever be flat?"
In a diaper?? And wondering if her belly will be flat? What, at 3 years old, could she know about whether a belly "should" or "should not" be flat? Could Demi's memory be playing tricks on her?
The earliest I can remember thinking about my body and how it appeared to others and what was considered "attractive" is around 8 years old. Could Demi really have had a concept of a flat belly being desirable when she was still in diapers? If so, does this point to eating disorders being genetic? Demi says that being bullied and called "fat" in school is what really triggered the disorder. So like a lot of addictions and disorders, perhaps anorexia and bulimia tendencies are something people are born with, and then something triggers its full-blown onset later in life.
This seems to also make it all the more imperative that media showcase women of all body types, in content aimed at all ages. I wouldn't have thought you might need some "real type" bodies in cartoons, but we should probably have them. Not to mention dolls for very young girls that should have more realistic body proportions. Remember how long it took to get black Barbies?
And does this mean we should start asking our toddlers if they have any concerns about how their bodies look? I would have thought a conversation (how do you have a conversation with a 3-year-old?!) like this could wait until a child is 10 or so, but apparently not. Maybe it needs to become one of those conversations that starts very early, like what is inappropriate touching.
Demi says she finally decided she would let nature decide what her body should look like, not her delusional notions about what she "should" look like (not to mention that, um, she looks great?!). Hopefully her speaking out will help other young (incredibly young!) girls.
Do you think you should discuss body image with your toddler?
Image via Katie