Demi Lovato started a social media war with a beloved frozen yogurt shop over the weekend, prompting many people to call her out for misusing her huge platform.
The pop star took a stand against The Bigg Chill in Los Angeles, slamming the store on her Instagram page for carrying sugar-free options. Lovato said seeing the products was “triggering and awful” for her, as she is in recovery from an eating disorder.
“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. Do better please,” she wrote in an Instagram Story. Her Instagram account has millions of followers.
She included the hashtag #dietculturevultures, which she said she’d be using to call out “harmful messaging from brands or [companies] that perpetuate a society that not only enables but praises disordered eating.”
The Bigg Chill, which had just over 6,000 followers on Instagram as of Sunday, pushed back on Lovato’s criticism by noting in an Instagram Story that the shop carries products for customers who have diabetes and celiac disease, options for vegans and “many indulgent items.”
The Bigg Chill’s account also responded to Lovato via Instagram direct message, according to a screenshot the singer posted on her page, writing: “We are not diet vultures. We cater to all of our customers needs for the past 36 years. We are sorry you found this offensive.”
Lovato continued to message the brand and post her replies on her account.
“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,” she wrote. “You can find a way to provide an inviting environment for all people with different needs. Including eating disorders — one of the deadliest mental illnesses only second to [opioid] overdoses. Don’t make excuses, just do better.”
She also suggested the brand make it clear that certain products were intended for customers with dietary restrictions.
“When it’s not super clear, the messaging gets confusing and being in LA it’s really hard to distinguish diet culture vs. health needs,” she said. “I think more clearer messaging would be more beneficial for everyone.”
The Bigg Chill told HuffPost in a statement that it was “really hurt by Demi’s comments.”
“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 company said.
Lovato did not respond to a request for comment. However, she posted more about The Bigg Chill, including a video, on Monday.
She said she took issue with how the sugar-free options were labeled, saying the presentation may have been triggering for someone struggling with an eating disorder or in recovery from one.
“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. I walked into a situation that didn’t sit right with me, my intuition said speak up about this, so I did and I feel good about that,” said Lovato, who added that she left the shop without frozen yogurt and then “had a hard time the rest of the weekend.”
She then offered to work with the shop to adjust its messaging.
“I’m so sorry if it got misconstrued,” she added. “I don’t always get this right. I speak my mind. I’m opinionated and sometimes I get labeled as problematic ... everything I’m doing is well-intentioned.”
Many people on social media have chimed in to discuss Lovato going after a beloved frozen yogurt shop, including “The Real Housewives of New York” star Leah Sweeney, who said in a video that Lovato should feel “ashamed of herself” for using her massive platform to “drag” the shop.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.