JoJo restricted herself to 500 calories per day as a teenager after a music industry executive suggested she lose weight.
The Too Little Too Late star was signed by Blackground Records at the age of 12 and shot to fame in 2004 with her debut single, Leave (Get Out), when she was 13. Following the release of her second album The High Road in 2006, record label executives refused to release new music and she became embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute to get out of her contract.
During that time, the teenager thought losing weight would help convince company bosses to put out a record, so she embarked on a 500-calorie diet.
“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 to Uproxx. “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.’
“I ended up working with a nutritionist who had me on a 500-calorie diet a day. I was taking these injections that make you have no appetite. I was like, ‘Let me see how thin I could become 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.”
Women are recommended to eat 2,000 calories per day.
The singer, now 29, was finally released from her contract with Blackground Records in 2014 after an intense legal battle and she released Mad Love, her first record in 10 years, in 2016.
She is now gearing up to release her fourth album, Good to Know, later this year.