The stunning transformation of Demi Lovato

If you're a regular person, chances are you were able to grow up and come of age without too much scrutiny — and were able to hide those embarrassing seventh grade photos. But if you're Demi Lovato, who was world-famous before she was in double digits, then there's no hiding those proverbial seventh grade photos. Ever since she danced and sang with everyone's favorite (or reviled, depending on who you ask) purple dinosaur, the world has been watching Lovato at every turn, both in front of and behind the camera. And as she's grown up and into a beautiful young woman, it seems like everyone knows everything about her before even she does at times.

But despite the rumors and the relentless tabloids, and despite the haters and the body shamers, Lovato c blossomed from a precocious young girl into a fearless pop sensation — and we've been here for all of it. Check out her totally stunning transformation from then to now.

Chaotic beginnings

Even though today Lovato is wealthy, talented, and famous, things weren't always easy for her. Rather, her childhood was quite chaotic because of her birth father, Patrick Lovato. "My dad was an addict and an alcoholic... he chose that over a family," she shared in Simply Complicated, a documentary about her life — and that had an impact. "Early on Demi was very, very sad because of her issues with her dad," her mother added. 

Marissa Callahan, a childhood friend of Lovato also observed her struggles with her father. "She dealt a lot with her dad, and the times where he was brought up wasn't ever good," she revealed in the documentary. "He would tell them he had cancer when he didn't, or he would tell them he's dying tomorrow when he wasn't." He also had a temper when he drank, and he would go into violent rages. Obviously, behavior like that can have a long-term impact on children.

Lovato's parents split up in 1994, and her mother remarried Eddie de la Garza, who Lovato loves as a dad, in 1995.

Modeling and singing by age 5

By age 5, it was clear that Lovato was destined to be in front of a camera. At home she was modeling and posing for photographs, some of which still adorn the walls of her family home. After that she began participating in beauty competitions, where she discovered that she loved singing — and was good at it. "We started off doing pageants, and I started to realize that Demi was... not human when it came to her voice," her sister recalled in Simply Complicated. Girl had some pipes from the get-go!

Lovato was fearless, too. "She had the nerve to go up in front of the entire school to sing Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On,' and it was beautiful," her mother gushed. That's not an easy song to sing, either!

After that, Lovato and her family put their collective noses to the grindstone in an effort to land her a gig. But it was only after countless auditions and rejections that she caught her first break.

Her big Barney break

After slogging through a slew of auditions, Lovato finally landed the gig that would help her break into the entertainment industry: she was cast on the hit children's television show Barney & Friendsaccording to The New York Times. There, alongside the big purple dinosaur himself (and fellow traveler Selena Gomez), Lovato was able to show off her musical and acting skills to millions of people around the world. She was only about 6 years old at the time, too!

Now that Lovato had landed a role on such a popular television program, she knew she had what it takes. So she hit the ground running, chasing opportunities left and right. "After I booked Barney, I was constantly working on music and acting," she revealed in Simply Complicated. "I was taking lessons any chance that I could." She also continued to hustle in the pageant circuit, and began to pick up guest starring roles in commercials and other television shows. She was on her way up!

Landing Camp Rock

While it was Barney & Friends that put Lovato on the map, it was when she booked another role that she began to truly manifest her innate superstar potential. That role was on Camp Rock, a Disney Channel Original Movie, which also starred the Jonas Brothers — so you know it was a huge deal! Even Lovato was a bit taken aback at the time. "It's still surreal to me. I don't think it's actually hit me because like, last night there was a bunch of people screaming for me," she shared in a 2008 interview about the premier with Access Hollywood. "I felt like screaming myself!"

That was also when Lovato met Phil McIntyre, who was managing the Jonas brothers — and found out he wanted to manage her, too, as he saw her star potential. "Starring in Camp Rock was Demi's big break..." he affirmed in Simply Complicated. "It was like overnight she became a household name." Talk about a dream come true!

It wasn't all a charm

Even as Lovato was killing it in her career, changing from a little girl into a gorgeous young woman in front of the world's eyes, not everything was going so swimmingly. For one, on top of the trauma she had from dealing with her father, she also had some serious scars from the bullying she endured at school. "I literally didn't know why they were being so mean to me," she recalled in an interview with ABC. They tormented her about her body size especially, calling her fat. And that led to her developing an eating disorder.

That's not all, either, as Lovato began to self-harm as well by the age of 11. "It was a way of expressing my own shame of myself on my own body," she continued.  

The bullying was so bad at one point that a girl at school made a petition advocating for Lovato to kill herself, according to Simply Complicated (via Billboard). It's a testament to her inner strength that she persevered. 

The tween pop queen

After Camp Rock, Lovato's career was poised to make a meteoric rise, and she was definitely ready for the ride. After the movie wrapped, she dropped her debut album, Don't Forget, co-written and co-produced by the Jonas Brothers and John Fields, according to MTV News. The album eventually went gold — go ahead, girl! Since then, she's consistently dropped albums on the reg, all of them showcasing her gorgeous pipes and keen songwriting ability.

Additionally, Lovato landed more acting gigs with the Disney Channel. She was cast in the starring role of her own sitcom, Sonny With a Chance, according to The New York Times. After that, she starred in Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, reprising the role of Mitchie. All the while she was touring in support of her albums and working constantly. Talk about busy! She truly had become a tween pop queen in her own right. 

Stepping back to recover

Lovato has been open about her longtime struggles with drugs and alcohol, which she started using at a young age. Over time, she began to use these substances more and more, eventually coming to rely on them to get through the day. And it all came to a head during the tour for Camp Rock 2. "I was performing concerts on an empty stomach," she revealed in an interview with ABC. "I was losing my voice from purging. I was self-medicating. I was not taking medication for depression." Clearly she was not in a good place.

Things spiraled to the point where she decked one of her dancers, something she regrets. "I literally was so emotionally whacked out that I took it out on someone that meant a lot to me," she continued. That prompted her to quit the tour and check into her first stint in rehab, where she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to Fox News. She also left Sonny With a Chance around that time to focus on music.

Forgiving father

The year 2013 dealt a blow to Lovato when her birth father, Patrick Lovato, passed away. Although the singer had a complicated relationship with her father due to his addiction and mental illness issues, she still had a difficult time processing his passing. "I was conflicted when he passed because he was abusive," she shared in a post on her YouTube channel. "He was mean, but he wanted to be a good person." 

In spite of her pain, Lovato wanted to honor her father's memory and have something good come of it. To that end, she created the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program to fund addiction treatment for individuals who can't afford it. "I'm helping one person at a time," she affirmed in an interview with ABC. What a beautiful way to pass on the healing spirit.

A killer career all grown up

No matter what goes on in Lovato's life, one thing is a constant: her successes. And as she's grown up into a mature young woman, they have only continued to pile up.

For one, she was a judge on the American version of The X Factor alongside shade king Simon Cowell, which gave her the opportunity to appeal to a new audience. "I never used to get recognized by adults, and now when I'm at the airport or the grocery store, the guy behind the register will be like, 'I love you on X Factor," she gushed in an interview with Billboard. Adorable!

Additionally, on top of continuing to produce critically-acclaimed, big-selling albums and going on several successful tours, she garnered a Grammy nomination in 2017 for Best Pop Album for Confident. And while she didn't win (though she absolutely slayed on the red carpet), she might have another chance to cinch a statue. That's because she's been nominated for her performance on Christina Aguilera's "Fall In Line." We're pulling for you, Demi! 

Fearless body positivity

In the age of Instagram, fame and fortune often comes with haters. It seems like everyone has an opinion regarding how a woman's body should look — and how it shouldn't look — and they don't hesitate to shout it from the rooftops.

That's why it's especially brave and badass that Lovato has been 100 percent fearless about body positivity. For one, she's not afraid to post makeup-free selfies on her Instagram page. Those freckles, though! And in an even more fearless move, she's posted Instagram stories showing her cellulite, stretchmarks, and lack of a thigh gap for all the world to see — and affirmed her self-love while at it. "I decided to embrace my flaws and — I don't even like to call them flaws, it's just a part of who I am — and show the world that I'm imperfect, but that's what makes me beautiful," she mused in an interview with E! News. We are so here for this!

Finding solace in kicking butt

When she's not cutting an album, going on tour, appearing on television, or slaying on Insta, chances are you'll find Lovato working up a sweat at the gym. Specifically, she's been practicing mixed martial arts (MMA) and jujitsu, and loving the therapeutic benefits, which help her take her mind off of her addictions. "Working out is a form of meditation to me because I'm not focused on anything in my head," she revealed in Simply Complicated (via Billboard). "It can transport you to a totally different place. I'm on a journey to discover what it's like to be free of all demons." It's also going to make her super strong, for sure!

By the looks of it she's pretty good at grappling, as is evidenced by a video she shared on the Ellen show. In the clip she puts her opponent in an arm bar, and he ends up tapping out!

Still fighting for her sobriety

Lovatics everywhere were stunned and saddened when news broke that Lovato overdosed on opiates in July of 2018. Fortunately the singer survived, and appears to be back on the road to good health. "I just feel like the reason she's alive today is because of the millions of prayers that went up that day when everybody found out what was happening," her mother shared in an interview with Newsmax TV. "I don't think she would be here if it hadn't been for those prayers and the good doctors at Cedars-Sinai." We're so glad was able to pull through!

The future is looking bright for Lovato, who's in a much better place now. "I can honestly say today that she is doing really well. She's happy, she's healthy, she's working on her sobriety and she's getting the help she needs," her mother continued. Keep fighting the good fight, Demi!