"When I look at someone who's out there partying excessively or rappers rapping about doing drugs, who people look up to, and think, Oh that's a G; that's a gangster. I think, You're actually being a giant p---y," Lovato says in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. "Sorry, but those rockers in the '80s were the furthest thing from rock stars. They were so insecure and so lonely that they had to do these things to get them through the day. If you're spending your entire early 20s chasing the next party, what are you running away from?"
The 20-year-old songstress, who's dealt with cutting and eating disorders, drug use, and bipolar disorder, doesn't stop there.
"That's not a badass. What's a badass is when you can sit through your problems and feel emotions when you don't want to have them," says the "Heart Attack" artist. "There have been nights where I've had to sit on my hands, because I want to act out, because I physically can't sit still in the pain I'm dealing with, from looking back and being bullied or other things that happened. And now, as hard as it may be, I will do that. That's what makes me a badass. Being a badass is handling your s--t."
But, she says, surviving was not always easy. She credits her first acting stint back in 1992, on the PBS kids show "Barney & Friends" — famous for its "I Love You" theme song — with helping her along the way.
"At the time, I was just so grateful to be on TV, but I was also really struggling," Lovato shares. "Looking back, there was a connection, probably between any kid who's ever sang that song to Barney, a little place in a child's heart, a void, that could be filled. And maybe Barney fills it. Even before Barney, I was suicidal. I was 7. With Barney, I guess subliminally, I did have a relationship with this figure that was saving my life in a way … I've talked about being bullied and the years of being a teenager, but I went through things when I was younger that I've never talked about that probably caused me to turn out the way I ended up turning out."
For all things that Demi Lovato is willing to talk about, there are still subjects the Dallas-raised gal doesn't broach.
One is her most personal song to date, "Warrior," from her album "Demi," which came out in May, with lyrics such as "There's a part of me I can't get back/A little girl grew up too fast."
"My family knows what it's about," she explains. "When I'm ready to open up that subject with the outside world, then I'll be free to talk about it. But right now, it's kind of one of those things where the lyrics speak for me. It's all in the song."
She also isn't very vocal when it comes to the highly personal subject of spirituality.
"I'm not super religious, but I grew up Christian and I believe in God," she says. "When I'm in L.A., I don't talk about it that much because people are very judgmental, but I just feel like God gave me a voice, not just to sing with. He put me through those things, which seemed horrible at the time, but they were so worth it. With the obstacles I've overcome, I can help people."
Lovato's been through so much that it's strange to think she'll be just 21 on August 20. Though she's young, Lovato notes that she won't take her special day for granted.
"I look at birthdays as celebrating another year of life," the former Disney star shares. "You've made it another year. An entire year. Some people don't make it to 21."
Read Lovato's full interview in the August issue of Cosmopolitan, on newsstands July 9.
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