Seventeen-year-old Joelle Joanie Siwa, known to fans as Jojo Siwa, was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 2003. Her path to stardom began as a 2-year-old as she performed in pageants and danced whenever she could. At age 9, she appeared as a contestant on Lifetime’s Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. Later, she became a regular, known as the “obnoxious” one on the über-popular show Dance Moms. After she and her mom left the show, Jojo began pursuing other passions, including singing and dancing.
But Jojo’s true skyrocket to fame began with the release of her anti-bullying hit, “Boomerang,” as well as the start of her YouTube channel in 2015. Now, five years later, Jojo Siwa has more than 12 million subscribers on YouTube, a deal with Nickelodeon, her own merch line with Claire’s and tons of other products available at places like Walmart, Target and Amazon.
But that’s not all. Her larger-than-life personality transfers into each of her videos, no matter the subject or content. Those video categories include prank calls, dances, music videos and DIY lessons, as well as makeup tutorials and tours of her colorful mansion. And, of course, big bows, buckets of glitter and side pony tails.
The opening song for each video shines a light on Jojo’s main goal: to make all viewers feel that they are loved and wanted, just the way they are. And after facing years of online trolling and bullying, it makes sense that Jojo would want fans to be comfortable in their skin, something she tries to model in her daily life.
Jojo is practically the definition of “high energy.” She’s also loveable, kind, encouraging and teaches fans to stand up for themselves.
Many of Jojo’s songs define “power” as the ability to look out for one another. She also encourages her fans to learn to be a kind friend and to work on living your life to the fullest. Jojo encourages fans to focus on the positive rather than the negative, and she strives to combat the damaging impact of bullying.
Jojo’s happy, bouncy videos still have some issues parents will want to know about. She’s hosted guests with same-gender attraction, such as gay beauty guru James Charles, whom she gave a beauty makeover to look like her. Some vidoes may include a misuse of God’s name and show Jojo as a dramatic young girl with a bad attitude. Still, others promote consumerism.
Older videos from earlier in Jojo’s career picture her in leotards and other revealing outfits. The reality TV show she participated in includes drama and rude behavior. Much earlier in her career, a video shows her mother telling her—as a 9-year-old—that she needs to work harder as Jojo cries.
Though Jojo’s channel emphasizes self-esteem and self-acceptance, there’s still a strong emphasis on what products a young girl might buy to make herself feel prettier; in this sense, the channel—like many product focused videos on YouTube—promotes consumerism.
There’s a lot to like about Jojo Siwa—which is undoubtedly why a lot of people do indeed like her. Her positivity is infectious. That said, parents still need to beware of potential problem areas that stem from her focus on beauty, sexual inclusivity and consumerism.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).