“I felt that how I was must have been not enough. Must have been dissatisfying,” the singer emotionally recalled.
JoJo says she was pressured by her former record label to lose weight.
In a new interview with Uproxx, the “Leave (Get Out)” singer, now 29, claimed she was put on a 500-calorie a day diet when she was just a teenager.
“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 claimed. “And I was like, ‘I’m actually the picture of health. I look like a healthy girl who eats and is active. I don’t think this is about my health. I think that you want me to be really skinny.’ He’s like, ‘No, I wouldn’t say that,'” she shared.
“I ended up getting put with a nutritionist who had me on a 500-calorie diet a day,” JoJo continued. “I was taking these injections that make you have no appetite. I was like, ‘Let me see how skinny I could get because maybe then they will put out an album. Maybe I’m so disgusting that nobody wants to see me in the video and they can’t even look at me.’ That’s really what I thought.”
While the Grammy winner said she’s “not angry for being looked at as a product,” she believes this “really unhealthy” way of thinking ultimately represents a larger problem in the industry.
“I am speaking for I would say probably every woman in this industry that, you know, your image and your weight is just up for conversation,” she expressed. “It’s just uncomfortable. It’s hard enough being a woman.”
“I’m sure a lot of us develop extreme insecurities and disordered eating and really unhealthy thinking about ourselves,” she continued, starting to become emotional. “I felt that how I was must have been not enough. Must have been dissatisfying.”
JoJo said she then turned to drugs and alcohol.
“So I started getting really f–ked up, drinking, making out with strangers, looking for validation and attention and looking to feel pretty, looking to feel good, to feel worthy,” she recalled. “There were definitely nights that I stumbled out of clubs and that I blacked out. I was just completely reckless, did not care. I needed to be buzzed to feel okay. I would go to the edge, stand on my tiptoes on the edge and then come back.”
“I should be dead,” she admitted.
When asked how she was able to change that behavior, JoJo explained, “My dad was an addict and I refused to end up like that.”
“I would’ve ended up like my dad, just going to sleep one day and not waking up,” she tearfully said of her father, Joel, who died in 2015. “Because life is hard.”
At the same time, JoJo was entangled in a legal battle with Blackground Records in an attempt to be released from her contract. While they reached a deal in 2009, the “Too Little Too Late” singer wasn’t freed from her contract until 2014.
“I didn’t get any money. I didn’t get any damages or anything like that,” she said. “I just walked away being able to sign another record contract. I was like, ‘Let’s go!’ I was free.”
In addition, during the lawsuit, JoJo said she wasn’t allowed to profit from making any music. “Blackground owned my voice and name and likeness,” she said. However, JoJo was able to record mixtapes and tour as her label “didn’t have a part” in her tour.
After being released from the label, JoJo went on to re-record her first two albums — as well as her singles “Demonstrate” and “Disaster” — and just recently won her first Grammy for her collaboration with PJ Morton on his track, “Say So.”
JoJo’s highly-anticipated next album, which is under her own label Clover Music in partnership with Warner Records, will be dropping this Spring.
“This journey has been a journey of learning how to love myself,” she expressed. “I feel really lucky, really, really grateful for the longevity that I have and for the resilience that I do have. But I work on it every day. I want to create a life for myself and I want to create a legacy.”