Over the weekend, singer Demi Lovato visited longtime favourite Los Angeles frozen yogurt shop The Bigg Chill for a snack. But what unfolded next was a complicated back-and-forth between a local froyo shop and an uber-famous singer. After seeing a series of “sugar-free” and “diet” food options available, Lovato called out the small business for promoting diet culture. The Bigg Chill then explained its reasons for having dietary options, saying it carries them to suit customers' needs, while Lovato explained how triggering these options could be to survivors of eating disorders. Now, after a few days of ongoing conversation, it looks like Lovato is walking back her initial comments. So, what exactly led to a social media war between Demi Lovato and a local yogurt shop? Ahead, we've explained the entire series of events.
“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,” Lovato posted on her Stories to her more than 102 million followers on Instagram. Alongside the message, she also included the hashtag, #DietCultureVultures. The singer has long been open about her own struggles with disordered eating and body image. In a second Instagram Story, Lovato continued to call out marketing that “not only enables but praises disordered eating.”
Then, The Bigg Chill responded by posting on its own Instagram account, explaining that it carried these products to be inclusive of customers with a variety of conditions that require dietary restrictions such as diabetes — which calls for sugar-free alternatives — and celiac disease, as well as those who are vegan.
Back on Lovato’s Instagram, she posted what appeared to be screenshots of direct messages between her and the shop. “We are not diet vultures,” the froyo shop wrote. “We cater to all of our customers needs for the past 36 years. We are sorry you found this offensive.” Lovato responded saying that she found her experience in the store to be “triggering and awful.”
Online, people began discussing whether Lovato got it right by calling out the Bigg Chill in such a public way. Opinions appeared split. Some agreed with Lovato that companies should be cautious about the way they describe food products in order to be considerate of people who struggle with eating disorders. But others criticized Lovato for not looking into why a product might need to be described as “sugar-free” before taking her thoughts online. And many were wary of the fact that Lovato publicly took such issue with a local, small business.
This spiralled into so much conversation that on Monday, Lovato posted an eight-minute-long video on Instagram backtracking some of her harsher assertions, saying she “definitely jumped to conclusions” and “probably shouldn’t have gone about” confronting the shop in that way.
“I’m sorry that I got the messaging wrong,” she said. “My intentions were not to come in and bully a small business. That was not it. I walked in, was so triggered that I left without froyo, and it made me really sad. That’s all it was, and I wanted to talk about that.” In the same video, she offered to help the company to update its product descriptions to be more sensitive to people with eating disorders.
“I’m genuinely sorry that people took it the wrong way,” Lovato added. “I just get really passionate. Y’all know me. I’m pretty feisty, and sometimes my emotions get the best of me.”
It does not appear that The Bigg Chill has spoken further on the matter publicly since Lovato's apology. Refinery29 reached out to the store for comment.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorder Information Centre hotline at 1-866-633-4220.