Facing a sharp backlash, Demi Lovato apologized Monday for picking a fight with a beloved Los Angeles frozen-yogurt shop that has landed her in hot water.
Over the weekend, the “Dancing With the Devil” artist slammed the Bigg Chill for promoting sugar-free cookies and “other diet foods,” according to screenshots of Lovato’s Instagram stories. The Bigg Chill, which is located on Olympic Boulevard in West L.A., says it carries the products to suit customers’ varying dietary restrictions and needs.
“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,” wrote Lovato, who boasts more than 102 million followers on the platform and has been vocal about her struggle with eating disorders.
“I will be calling [out] harmful messaging from brands or [companies] that perpetuate a society that not only enables but praises disordered eating. #dietculturevultures.”
On its own Instagram page, which has nearly 12,000 followers (a spike from 6,000 before Lovato’s post), the Bigg Chill responded Sunday by explaining that it offers food items for people with diabetes and celiac disease, as well as options for vegans and “many indulgent” choices.
In a direct message to Lovato, who later shared screenshots of their private exchange on her story, the store rejected the “diet vultures” label and apologized for offending the singer. Lovato continued o berate the company, which began in 1986, for “terrible” service and dismissing its “excuses.”
“The whole experience was triggering and awful,” she wrote back.
“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. Including eating disorders — one of the deadliest mental illnesses only second to [opioid] overdoses.”
TMZ reported that, in another direct message to the store, Lovato reportedly wrote, “You don’t want to mess w me. You’re in the wrong and the customer is always right.”
In a statement to the Huffington Post, the Bigg Chill reiterated its commitment to serving different dietary communities and said 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,” the company said. “Whether they are diabetic, vegan, gluten-free, or just wanting a decadent dessert – we’ve always tried to have something for everyone.”
The blowback to Lovato’s online campaign was swift, with fans of the Bigg Chill commenting on an April 8 Instagram post to voice their support. The store also shared encouraging posts on its own Instagram stories.
“We LOVE you, despite @ddlovato blatant ignorance to dietary options,” wrote one user. Another noted, “I don’t even live in LA but I want to show my support! I love Demi but I disagree with her on this one.”
“I apologize on behalf of Demi. I know you have different options for people who are diabetic and have other health issues. Continue to do you,” someone else said. (Those comments were tame compared to “The Real Housewives of New York City” star Leah McSweeney’s withering criticism.)
In a subsequent Instagram story, Lovato posted a screenshot of an old Instagram post in which the Bigg Chill labeled some of its cookie and cake offerings “guilt free.” (“I don’t need to feel guilt free about eating anything,” the Grammy nominee argued.)
The former Disney Channel star later suggested in follow-up messages that the Big Chill be “more clear” about its branding by “labeling the snacks for celiac or diabetes or vegan,” as it can be confusing and “really hard to distinguish diet culture vs health needs.”
“I think clearer messaging would be more beneficial for everyone,” she wrote. “You aren’t wrong for catering to many different needs but it’s about not excluding one demographic to cater to others.”
After Lovato was widely criticized, with many accusing her of using her platform to pick on a local business, she backtracked Monday in an Instagram video. She said she “definitely jumped to conclusions” upon entering the store and “probably shouldn’t have gone about” confronting the shop the way that she did.
“I’m sorry that I got the messaging wrong,” she said Monday. “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 fro-yo, and it made me really sad. That’s all it was, and I wanted to talk about that.”
She also offered to help the Big Chill adjust its product descriptions to be more sensitive to people with eating disorders.
“I’m genuinely sorry that people took it the wrong way,” she added. “I just get really passionate. Y’all know me. I’m pretty feisty, and sometimes my emotions get the best of me.”