You may know singer JoJo, now 25, from her 2004 breakup anthem, “Leave.” It has over 45 million views on YouTube but honestly I barely remember this song. She was just a teen when she first had success, is now about to tour with Fifth Harmony and has a new album coming out. JoJo did an interview with PopSugar where she explained what was going on when she took such a long hiatus. It turns out that she was dealing with some issues related to a crash diet her people put her on, but it also sounds like she was just burnt out from being a child star. The video is below and JoJo comes across as very genuine, intelligent and self aware.
When did you start seeing that media had an effect on your self esteem
I was around 17. My mom really kept me in a bubble, she was managing me. I wanted to separate our relationship. If people had an opinion about me and were coming to her about it [and saying they wanted me to lose weight] she never let me know about it. There just wasn’t as many places to be nasty in 2004, 2005 as there are now.
Has there ever been a moment where you made a decision [that you regretted]?
Here’s something that I agreed to do that really ended up messing with me psychologically. I was under a lot of pressure from a company I was working with and they wanted me to lose weight fast. So they got me with a nutritionist and had me, like, on all these supplements, and I was injecting myself – this like is a common thing that girls do by the way. So it makes your body only need certain calories, so I ate 500 calories a day. This was the most unhealthy thing I had ever done. Then I gained all the weight back. I felt terrible about myself… I felt like ‘if I don’t do this, my album won’t come out’ and it didn’t. So it’s not like it even worked.
JoJo really impressed me in this interview. She said that she was 18 when she went on that extreme diet with “really messed” with her self esteem, but that “after the age of 21 I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with myself.” She explained that the extreme diet did a lot of “damage”which she had to work through because she couldn’t exercise and “didn’t feel strong.” She also discussed the unrealistic beauty standards on social media and called them “unrealistic” and “filtered.”
I know about this diet because my cousin’s wife did it. (It also didn’t work for her long term.) It’s called the HCG diet and involves getting shots or taking drops of human chorionic gonadotropin and eating 500 calories a day. It’s based on the theory that HCG, which is a hormone that women produce more of while pregnant, allows you to more readily burn stored fat and eat less without getting hungry. In reality there are no studies that show that the HCG diet is effective or that it works other than for the fact that it cuts calories so drastically. What’s more is that HCG can cause serious side effects including an increased risk of blood clots, depression, edema and more. So of course this didn’t work out for her. At least she’s being honest about what she went through. I wish more celebrities (although I guess I use that word lightly in this case) would tell the truth about extreme diets like this. They’re ineffective and can ultimately be harmful.
Here’s the interview with JoJo. Popsugar’s Kirbie Johnson is chatty and fun and they have a good rapport. This is worth watching and I came away from it hoping to see more of JoJo.