Ex-Disney star Demi Lovato is not impressed with the jokes that the children's network has made towards eating disorders and has taken to Twitter to express her disapproval.
Last November, at the age of 18, Lovato checked into Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. She was there in an attempt to fix years of struggling with eating disorders and cutting herself. Lovato dropped her Disney sitcom Sonny with a Chance to focus on her recovery.
After returning from the treatment center, Lovato has become an advocate in a world where bullying is rampant. This September, the star released her raw, touching third album Unbroken, performing the album's first single "Skyscraper" live at the 2011 DoSomething Awards in August. This was Lovato's first live performance since entering Timberline Knolls.
Now, over a year after her recovery began, Lovato is speaking out against Disney Channel. The writers of the channel's current hit show, Shake it Up, wrote a line, delivered by a stick-thin supermodel character, poking fun at eating disorders. "You're adorable! I could just eat you guys up," the woman gushed, "You know...if I ate."
Though Lovato is a bit behind on her Disney shows (the episode aired in December 2010, just a month after she entered treatment!), she broadcasted her disgust the evening before Christmas Eve in a string of tweets.
"I find it really funny how a company can lose one of their actress' from the pressures of an EATING DISORDER and yet still make joke about...that very disease..... #nice."
The star also challenged the network's recent casting choices: "And is it just me or are the actress' getting THINNER AND THINNER.... I miss the days of RAVEN, and LIZZIE MCGUIRE."
Disney is in no position to say that this was a one-time mistake, because it's not! A character on Disney's So Random, the spin-off of the very show that Lovato dropped while in recovery, also referred to not eating to stay in shape. Tiffany Thornton's character says: "Angus [an obnoxious Australian male model] only eats one full meal a week!"
How disgusting! This is a terrible mistake on Disney's part and should be seen as a significant red flag for families. What are the channel's programs promoting? Eating disorders are serious mental disorders that should not be taken lightly.
Though I've grown out of Disney programming, I will not be happy with the network until they issue a formal, public apology.
UPDATE (12/24/11): Disney's PR team responded to Lovato's complaints last night via Twitter, saying "We hear you & are pulling both episodes as quickly as possible & reevaluating them...It's NEVER our intention to make light of eating disorders!" Though this is a step in the right direction, no official apology has been made.