JoJo: My label said 'I didn't look good enough to sell the music'

These days, JoJo makes No Apologies, especially not for her body.

The artist — who just released her first album in 10 years, the soulful Mad Love, following a multi-year battle to be freed from her contract with Blackground Records — recently penned an essay for Motto, in which she opens up about her fraught experience navigating the music industry and its warped beauty standards.

"In my early career, I felt like a product," says the singer, who first landed a record deal at age 12.

"When I was 19, that feeling was confirmed," she continues. "I was told that I didn’t look good enough to sell the music I was making. Other female artists were brought up and my image was compared to theirs. The president of my former label sat me down and told me that losing weight was 'about my health.' But we both knew it wasn’t. I was a curvy size 2/4. I lived an active and balanced life. It hurt and affected me deeply, but I didn’t want anything to hold me back from moving forward with my career. And instead of rebelling or saying ‘Go (expletive) yourself,' I wanted to make myself into a better product."

JoJo goes on to describe how she cut calories and pumped herself with supplements and hormones in a frenzied effort to lose weight. It was a toxic course of action and it took a toll not only on her physical and mental health but on her artistry: "When I think of all the time I’ve spent uncomfortable in my own skin, wishing I could just hibernate for the winter and come back skinny, I realize I could have channeled that energy and obsession into something much more productive."

The singer has since learned to embrace her body, "a brick house adorned with battle scars and cellulite, curves and confidence." And in her essay, JoJo encourages fans to do the same, affirming that their value lies not in achieving some arbitrary number on the scale or whittling themselves down to the "ideal shape" — the goalposts of which are always moving — but in loving themselves unconditionally.

Read her full essay here.

Copyright 2016 KING


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