Music | April 21, 2021 8:44 am

Unpacking Demi Lovato’s Ill-Advised Crusade Against a Yogurt Shop

The singer has apologized for calling out the store for carrying sugar-free cookies

Demi Lovato performs onstage during the OBB Premiere Event for YouTube Originals Docuseries "Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil" at The Beverly Hilton on March 22, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.
Demi Lovato performs onstage during the OBB Premiere Event for YouTube Originals Docuseries "Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil" at The Beverly Hilton on March 22, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.
Getty Images for OBB Media

Celebrities are notorious for throwing their clout around in inappropriate ways, be it the old stand-by “don’t you know who I am?” to following the most recent trend of siccing their armies of fans — many of whom will go to great lengths to harass anyone who has wronged the object of their obsession — onto whomever they’ve got beef with on social media. The latest example comes courtesy of Demi Lovato, who issued an apology on Monday after catching heat for calling out an independent frozen yogurt shop for “promoting diet culture” by stocking sugar-free cookies.

“Finding it extremely hard to order froyo from @thebiggchillofficial when you have to walk past tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods before you get to the counter,” she wrote on her Instagram initially after paying a visit to Los Angeles’s The Bigg Chill over the weekend.

After the shop tried to defend itself, noting that it carries various sugar-free and gluten-free items to accommodate customers with dietary restrictions stemming from conditions like diabetes or celiac disease, Lovato initially pushed back, sharing screenshots of her direct messages with the establishment to her Instagram Stories. “You can carry things for other people while also caring for another percentage of your customers who struggle DAILY just to even step foot in your store. You can find a way to provide an inviting environment for all people with different needs,” she wrote.

Eventually, however, she posted an apology video. “It wasn’t clear to me that it was for specific health needs, and so I didn’t know that,” she explained in the video. “I just took it as, ‘OK, I’m going into a froyo shop. I’m seeing sugar-free, I’m seeing this and that. If there is a sign that ‘celiac,’ ‘vegan,’ I would’ve understood. That would’ve been clear messaging to me.”

Lovato has spoken publicly many times about her struggle with bulimia, and she explained how she felt triggered by the sugar-free cookie display. “I left that yogurt store and didn’t get the yogurt that I wanted and then I had a hard time for the rest of the weekend,” she said. “I’m human, and I talk about my struggles. And I’m passionate so I’m sorry that I got the messaging wrong. I’m sorry that I may have disappointed some people, but I’m not coming after a small business as someone with a lot of followers. That’s not what I’m doing here.”

The thing is, that is what she was doing. And it’s far from the first time she’s done something careless like that. In 2014, Lovato eventually had to ask her fans to stop sending Kathy Griffin death threats after naming the comedian as “the biggest celebrity douche.” More recently, in her Dancing With the Devil docuseries, Lovato addressed the insane amount of death threats and harassment her fans handed down to her choreographer, who was with her the night of her overdose, blaming her for the incident. She should be — and is — well aware of what can happen when she gets her 102 million Instagram followers riled up, and as someone who spent an entire weekend having a “hard time” because she walked past a cookie, she of all people should understand the mental toll that being told to slit your wrists by hundreds of strangers can take on a person. To intentionally stir them up, no matter her intentions, is irresponsible.

As for The Bigg Chill? They put out a brief statement about the whole debacle.

“For the past 36 years, our small woman-owned business has catered to anyone who’s come through the door. Whether they are diabetic, vegan, gluten-free, or just wanting a decadent dessert — we’ve always tried to have something for everyone,” the statement read.