Singer JoJo is about to make her re-debut into music after a decade of being held hostage by her former label, Blackground Records. Unable to release new material due her struggle over ownership and distribution, this darling of the early-aughts is set to release her first new album in ages this October. And, while she’s ecstatic to be back in the game, she also revealed to PopSugar that radio silence wasn’t the only hell they put her through.
The story of a young female star pressured to lose weight in the unhealthiest of ways is hardly new. Still, keep in mind that JoJo started out in the business at just 12 years old and was soon pressured to begin losing weight quickly. She tells PopSugar, “They got me with a nutritionist and had me… on all these supplements, and I was injecting myself—this is a common thing ‘the girls’ do, by the way—it makes your body only need certain calories, so I ate 500 calories a day. It was the most unhealthy thing I’ve ever done.” She then gained the weight back and felt terrible both about herself and about the fact that she “ascribed to the standard that they wanted me to be at.” Still, she was worried that if she didn’t go along with them, her album wouldn’t come out—which ultimately, it never did, due to the start of the dispute with her label.
JoJo admits that the experience has had a lasting impact on her and she’s still overcoming the psychological effects and pressures she endured. Still, it has given her new insight into what she truly wants to accomplish with her career. She says, “It’s helped me realize that you just have to keep pushing forward and it made me realize that I don’t do this for money and I don’t do this for fame, I do this because I really love it. If I was doing it for those reasons then I’m not doing it right. I love this. It made me realize that I love music more than I hate the industry.”
JoJo’s new album, Mad Love, drops on October 14, and she’s currently touring with Fifth Harmony through September. Check out the full interview with PopSugar below to hear JoJo’s take on the unrealistic expectations put on women and what it was like to be a teen star.
Update: If JoJo’s story sounded (disappointingly) familiar to Kesha fans, the parallels weren’t lost on the singers, either. Kesha recently tweeted her support, saying “I wanna shout out to @iamjojo & say I’m proud of you. Been following your story. Ur STRONG. They can’t break you and they don’t own you.” JoJo responded with her own words of thanks and encouragement, wishing Kesha all the best on tour and saying “Hi wonderful woman. Our voices are OURS. We cannot be made to sit down & shut up. U have the victory! All my LOVE.”