At first glance, actress Dove Cameron seems like she’s living the dream. Not only does she nail every role she plays, she’s also a ridiculously talented singer and dancer. Fans of Disney’s movie franchise Descendants have seen Cameron show off her impressive voice and dance moves as Maleficent’s daughter Mal. She’s also become a style icon with her glamorous fashion choices, on and off the red carpet. But there are a lot more layers to Cameron beyond the characters she plays or the clothes that she wears.
Cameron has gone through a lot. Yet, she still manages to stay open despite the pain and heartbreak. On her social media, she has been very honest about her ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety, and how that fulls her work on women’s mental health today. In an Instagram post, she revealed that her large social media following sometimes makes her hesitant to share her challenges and sad moments. Her vulnerability in sharing this despite the potential for backlash shows how real she is. She could choose to only post about the amazing opportunities in her life, but is instead using her platform to connect with her fans and be raw.
Cameron has experienced a lot of pain and heartbreak from a young age.
She was bullied for being "different" and felt isolated
Cameron started acting very early on, going from small-scale theatre productions of Les Misérables and The Secret Garden to her career-defining moment in Disney’s Liv and Maddie (via IMDb). Naturally, her interest in acting meant that she split a lot of her time between TV sets and school. Unfortunately, her peers didn’t make this any easier for her.
In a joint interview with Yahoo and her mom Bonnie Wallace, Cameron explained how being bullied impacted her. “At school I felt out of place. I was bullied. I would think, ‘These kids don’t like me, they don’t accept me,’ but I felt like in the entertainment industry, I would fit in,” she explained. Cameron then went on to list a series of hurtful encounters with her classmates, including being locked in a closet, all her hard work on a handmade dress being ruined, and having razors carelessly thrown at her.
In spite of this trauma, she ended her interview with an inspiring message. She added “I firmly believe there are no bad people. There are people who may have wiring that is off, there are people in so much pain that they have to cause others pain. But if someone is happy in every aspect of their life, they will not want to cause others pain.” Being able to show empathy to those who hurt you is powerful, even if it isn’t always an easy thing to do.
She's battled body insecurity for a long time
Cameron opened up to StyleCaster about how she developed an eating disorder after being thrust into the limelight. “I was not eating for days sometimes. But it was because I thought I needed to be absolutely tiny to be loved. I genuinely thought I needed to be as skinny as I possibly could to be loved and appreciated and good enough,” she revealed.
The fact that she felt pressured to skip meals in order to be loved and respected shows that serious change needs to happen in the entertainment industry. Society constantly sends the message that only certain body types are acceptable, which then leads to people feeling like they’re not good enough. By sharing her own experience, Cameron is shining a light on the harmful effect of beauty standards on people of all ages. At the end of the day, beauty is a social construct. There is no such thing as the “perfect” or ideal person because everyone is different, and differences need to be celebrated more.
She's experienced a lot of loss at a young age
Cameron lost her father when she was fifteen, and opened up on Instagram about how his presence in her life still impacts her today. In 2019, she visited his favorite restaurant, The Original Pantry Café, reminisced about his “coffee stained postcards” from Los Angeles, and was grateful to finally make the trip. She described her father as “the most fascinating human being” and hopes to write a movie on his life one day (via EW).
She experienced deep grief again in 2016 when close friend and musician Christina Grimmie was shot and killed during a meet and greet with fans (via Seventeen). Cameron repeatedly tweeted about being at a loss for words and not knowing how she could ever move on.
Sadly, she lost another close friend of hers a few years later. In 2019, her fellow Descendants co-star Cameron Boyce passed away in his sleep after suffering from a seizure. She told E!’s Daily Pop that Boyce’s passing was hard to process. “It’s like how do you speak about your experience with one of your favorite people, one of your people you feel closest to? He just was everything that everybody says he is. He was from someplace else. He was truly like a cosmic happening,” she explained. This tragedy brought her castmates closer together. She added “It’s been really rough, but we’re all finding solace in each other and that’s become really beautiful for us.”
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