The ''Sonny with a Chance'' star puts her future on hold

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated November 12, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

Demi Lovato, 18, announced Nov. 1 that she was dropping out of her concert tour with the Jonas Brothers to ”seek medical treatment for emotional and physical issues,” a refreshingly proactive approach to tackling personal problems while in the spotlight. So it seems particularly unfair to label her part of a ”Disney curse,” as so much media speculation has. In fact, that kind of broad-brush thinking just causes more problems for troubled teen stars.

Dating back to the original Mouseketeers in the 1950s, Disney has churned out scores of kiddie sensations, so it’s only a matter of statistics that some would prove remarkably resilient (Annette Funicello, Hayley Mills, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell) while others would struggle. Kids in the public eye face pressures that would make anyone crazy — tabloids watching your every move, message boarders snarking about your body/face/wardrobe. Being Disney-branded simply magnifies the cultural impact of any off-script moment, as the seemingly well-adjusted — albeit rebellious — Miley Cyrus can attest. Surely nothing bad could happen in the Happiest Place on Earth! But it does, and it will continue to as long as Disney’s in the business of talented kids. There is, after all, a reason Disney princesses were limited to animated characters at first — all it takes is an eraser to fix their imperfections.

Lovato has chosen to get help instead of keeping her problems under wraps so she could go on making money. With the vocal support of Disney and her team, she seems determined to avoid the deeper, darker problems of her oft-cited sisters-in-cursedness, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. This doesn’t seem like a ”curse” so much as a girl dealing with unfortunate life issues the best she can.