JoJo is opening up about body image, revealing in a lengthy and candid interview that she was put on a diet where she only ate 500-calorie a day when she was just 18 years old.
After she was launched into stardom at just 13, the “Leave (Get Out)” hitmaker says that she was so desperate to release new music that she was willing to try anything — even the ultra-restrictive diet.
Speaking with Uproxx, JoJo, now 29, said that she thought the reason her label wasn’t releasing her new music was “the way that I looked.”
“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 said that she knew she was healthy but was restricted to only 500 calories a day nonetheless. According to Health.gov, an 18-year-old girl living an active lifestyle should consume at least 2,400 calories per day.
“I was like, ‘I’m actually the picture of health,'” JoJo continued in her Uproxx interview. “‘I actually look like a healthy girl who eats and is active. And I don’t think this is about my health. I think that you want me to be really skinny.'”
“And he’s like, ‘No, I wouldn’t say that,’ blah blah blah,” JoJo recalled. “But I ended up getting put with a nutritionist that had me on a 500 calorie a day diet, and I was on these injections that make you have no appetite.”
“I was like, ‘Let me see how skinny I can get, 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 they can’t even look at me,'” JoJo recalled thinking. “That’s really what I thought.”
JoJo said that her experience speaks to a larger problem within the music industry.
“I’m sure a lot of us develop extreme insecurities and disordered eating and really unhealthy thinking about ourselves,” she said. “I felt that how I was must have been not enough. Must have been dissatisfying.”
“So I started getting really f— up, drinking, making out with strangers, looking for validation and attention and looking to feel pretty, looking to feel good, to feel worthy,” she continued.
“There were definitely nights that I stumbled out of clubs and that I blacked out. I was just completely reckless, did not care,” she admitted. “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 said, explaining that her father, Joel, who died in 2015, was an addict and that she stopped using substances because “I would’ve ended up like my dad, just going to sleep one day and not waking up. Because life is hard.”
The “Too Little, Too Late” singer was finally released from her contract with Blackground Records in 2014 after an intense legal battle, and opened up to PEOPLE about her experience two years later.
“Sometimes I feel inadequate; sometimes I feel like I can fall back into depression,” she told PEOPLE in 2016. “For a while, I coped by drinking too much. I wanted to get out of my mind. I wanted to stop picking myself apart. I just wanted to feel good, to chase that high. I wanted to stop worrying about my career. And when you get out of your mind, when you get to that point when you blackout, you don’t give a s— about anything.”