Singer JoJo opened up about body image in a recent interview, revealing that she was put on a 500 calorie-a-day diet as a teenager.
JoJo, born Joanna Levesque, 29, said in the wide-ranging interview with Uproxx that, in her teens, she was eager to release new music but that her record label at the time, Blackground Records, had burned a lot of bridges with different distribution companies.
She said that at one point she thought her appearance was preventing the release of her music.
“Because when I was 18, I remember being sat down in the Blackground office and the president of the label being like, ‘We just want you to look as healthy as possible,'” she recalled.
JoJo, who topped the charts when she was 13 with her debut single, “Leave, Get Out,” said she responded: “I’m actually the picture of health. I look like a healthy girl who eats and is active, and I don’t think that this is about my health. I think that you want me to be really skinny.”
Despite the label president’s denial, JoJo said that she was put in contact with a nutritionist who had her on a 500 calorie-a-day diet and that she received injections that made her have no appetite.
“Let me see how skinny I can get,” she said she remembered thinking. “Because maybe then they’ll put out an album. Maybe I’m just so disgusting that no one wants to see me in a video and that they can’t even look at me.”
JoJo said she isn’t angry for being looked at as a product, because as an artist she believes she is one.
“I am speaking, I would say, for probably every woman in this industry that, you know, your image and your weight is up for conversation,” she said. “And it’s just uncomfortable. It’s hard enough being a woman.”
JoJo said she felt that she was not enough and was dissatisfying, so she turned to alcohol and sought out validation. There were nights she stumbled out of clubs or blacked out “and was completely reckless.”
“I needed to be buzzed to feel OK,” she said.
When asked whether she relied on substances “for a while,” JoJo responded yes and said she was able to overcome addiction by resolving not to end up like her father, who she said was an addict and died in November 2015.
JoJo was finally released from her contract with Blackground in 2014 after a yearslong legal battle.