Demi Lovato has been through a lot since starting her career at 7 years old.
The Disney star-turned-pop diva, 28, got her first tattoo when she was just 16, but had to hide it due to her squeaky-clean image.
Throughout the years, the “Confident” singer has become more outspoken about her struggles with mental health, substance abuse, her sexuality and more — and added plenty of tattoos to remind her of what’s really important in life and commemorate her ups and downs, including her recently ended engagement to Max Ehrich.
Below, see all of Lovato’s many tattoos and learn more about their meanings.
Lovato’s most recent tattoo is a large butterfly on her neck. Though she hasn’t shared its meaning, the singer captioned an Instagram photo of the ink with telling words that appear to be lyrics from a forthcoming song: “Dear little me, I’m sorry that it took so long but baby your [sic] free.”
Shortly after performing at the Grammys and singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl as part of her musical comeback, Demi revealed that she had a large back tattoo done of an angel being saved by the Holy Trinity.
“I told [tattoo artist Alex Aureo] about my life and where I was at in that moment and we created a combination on images that best symbolized the spiritual awakening I was having,” she wrote. “Having a fallen angel being lifted by 3, pure, angelic doves (the Holy trinity) as her inner light is being guided by a higher consciousness, and the disintegration of her dark wings was representing the darkness I was shedding.”
Celebrity tattoo artist Dr. Woo is responsible for Demi’s “survivor” neck tattoo, which she had done in December 2019 to remind herself of her resilience.
When her friend Tommy Trussell died after a struggle with substance abuse, Lovato as well as some of the model’s other close friends honored him with “T” tattoos.
Lovato called this tattoo on her engagement ring finger a “forever reminder” that she’s first and foremost committed to herself.
Her grandmother’s portrait
“This is for you Mimaw,” Demi wrote of this forearm portrait of her grandmother shortly after she passed away in May 2019. “You at 26 on my arm while I’m 26, and forever. I love you more.” Her go-to tattoo artist Dr. Woo is responsible for the ink, which the singer called the “most meaningful” in her collection.
To celebrate six months of sobriety after her overdose, Demi inked this flower on the inside of her pointer finger.
In 2018, shortly after she announced that she had relapsed with her song “Sober,” Demi had the word “free” inked on her right pinky. Several of her friends and team members got matching tattoos while on the Tell Me You Love Me tour with Lovato to show their support.
One of Demi’s boldest tattoos is this large lion’s head on the back of her hand, which artist Bang Bang inked in 2017. It’s a nod to her Leo astrological sign as well as her song, “Lionheart.”
“you make me beautiful” + dreamcatcher
What started out as lyrics from the Bethany Dillon song “Beautiful” has turned into a large design on Lovato’s ribs. She first inked just the words — which she says are a tribute to her faith and God’s creation — when she was just 16 years old. She later added the artwork around it in two stages, first adding a pair of feathers and then a dreamcatcher in 2016.
Demi said she decided to tattoo a smiley face on her finger in 2016 “because life’s too short not to tattoo your pinky.”
“Buddy was here”
In 2015, Demi memorialized her dog Buddy, who was killed by coyotes in her backyard. She got the words “Buddy was here” in a font made to look like a child’s handwriting on the inside of her foot. The singer also sold T-shirts with the design during the Future Now tour. In 2019, she updated the tattoo to include a portrait of the dog above the writing.
After a show in NYC in 2014, Demi stopped by Bang Bang’s studio for a series of Roman numerals honoring the birthdates of her family members. VIII VIII MCMLXII represents August 8, 1962, for her mother Dianna De La Garza; II IV MCMLXXXVIII represents February 4, 1988, for sister Dallas Lovato; XII XXVIII MMI represents December 28, 2001, for half-sister Madison De La Garza; II XIV MCMLXIII represents February 14, 1963, for stepfather Eddie De La Garza; and finally, X XXIII MCMLX represents October 23, 1960, for biological father Patrick Lovato, who died in 2013.
In April 2015, Demi had a kiss print covered with a grayscale rose, sharing the new ink with the hashtag #kidsdontdodrugs and referencing how much she hated the lips. Lovato later added a second rose and more leaves to fill out the tattoo.
To commemorate a trip she took to Kenya for her 21st birthday, Lovato inked the outline of Africa on the inside of her arm.
After her biological father passed away, Demi memorialized him with Roman numerals representing his favorite number. “My father and I didn’t have the most ideal relationship, but at the end of the day he’s still my dad and I grew up with him and he was a wonderful person,” she told “Good Morning America.”
“I’ve dealt with mental illnesses but my father also dealt with mental illness and he wasn’t able to function very well in society.”
In addition to the tattoo, she also set up a scholarship fund in his name to help patients pay for mental illness treatment.
“now I’m a warrior”
On the day she released her fourth album, “Demi,” Lovato inked the phrase “I am a warrior” on her back — lyrics from the closing song. “I have a song on my album called ‘Warrior’ and it’s a very, very meaningful song to me,” she told Jimmy Fallon.
“It’s really heavy, the lyrics, but it’s an inspirational song as well. It’s a negative thing turned positive. I’ve been through a lot and I’m really really honest on this album. And this is a song that was really difficult for me to write, record, and now release. [The tattoo] was kind of like a tribute to releasing the album as well as overcoming some really, really difficult things in my life.”
“faith” + birds
Though she had “faith” tattooed first in 2011, Demi later added 12 birds flying toward her wrist from her elbow to symbolize freedom. Though not a factor in the star’s decision, the number is congruent with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous; she said it was “meant to be” when she realized the connection. The same design later appeared on the cover of Demi’s book, “Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year.”
“Let go” + “Let God”
Lovato has these words tattooed across her two feet, yet another tribute to her faith.
“Rock N Roll”
Perhaps a divergence from her Disney Channel stardom, the pop star has this phrase inked on her middle finger.
Some time in 2011, the singer added this word on her finger.
The bold cross is intentionally placed on the outside of her right hand, so that it’s clearly visible whenever she holds a microphone.
Demi’s signature phrase is tattooed across her wrists as a reminder to avoid self-harm and addiction. She had the message inked in 2011, shortly after she entered rehab for the first time.
“It was very symbolic for me to be able to cover [up my scars from cutting] and also replace it with something else that’s permanent so that I’ll never be able to forget the support that I had when I went in [to treatment],” she said at the time.
Demi had this lip print tattoo done on a tour bus during Warped Tour by artist Ashley McMullen, and later publicly discussed how much she regretted it, even comparing it to a vagina. After hearing Lovato’s comments, McMullen publicly shamed her for “peeing all over the toilet seat,” “acting like a drunken mess” and skipping out without paying for the ink.
This tattoo, like the lips on her arm, was apparently a spur-of-the moment decision for Lovato. It was also done in the same location — on the back of a tour bus at Warped Tour — the year before the infamous lips.