JoJo Siwa talks body acceptance and loving her ‘pooch’: ‘We need to spend less time shaming them and more time appreciating them’

JoJo Siwa on the power of authenticity, how she handles criticism and misconceptions about lesbian culture.

Video Transcript

JOJO SIWA: Since the world met me when I was nine, in the public industry, it's always been the real JoJo. And I will never, ever do anything that doesn't feel like me, or that I'm not proud of, or that I'm not who I am. I built my career on being myself. And so yes, this is the real JoJo.

A lot of people think that I put on a face to the world or I put on an act for the world. But I really did just share who I was with the world. If the world would have worked out for me to come out sooner, then I totally would have. But I never felt a need to. I never even really, I guess, realized that I was gay until I realized I was gay. You know?

It's not about being comfortable, for me, with being the face of the LGBTQ young demographic, young age, younglings. It's about being honored with that. It's something that I've been appointed by not myself, by just the world calling me a gay icon, calling me this generation's icon. That is an honor that I do not take lightly any day.

I am most unapologetic about who I am, about who I love, about what I think, what I feel. I'm just now realizing that I don't need other people's approval to cut my hair. When I was on my first TV show, we made a matching bow to go with every outfit. And it was like, you don't leave the house without your bow.

Honestly, I just wear bows because I like them. They can be a symbol of being kind to one another. If I see a kid with a JoJo bow in, I can go sit with them because I know they'll be nice to me.

You can be queer and be girly. I think that's a thing, is a lot of times, "lesbians" are taken to be masculine. If you're a lesbian, you're supposed to be-- you-- do you want to be a boy? That's not the case. There are plenty of very feminine lesbians.

I don't like the word itself. It just like-- "les-bi-an." It's just, like, a lot. But-- but I mean, at the end of the day, that's what I am. So it's like-- it just is-- it's like the word "moist." It's just like, ugh.

It's really cool being a teen idol at this age. I'm only 19, and to have millions of people all around the world look up to me, want to be like me, I mean, that just is a feeling that you can't even explain. When people say bad things about you, it's never fun to hear. I'm unfortunately used to it from being on the internet for so long. And so I've learned how to handle it.

However, when people are coming at me for my dance knowledge, I was like, OK, that's just not true. The people who are telling me that I'm not a dancer are on Twitter behind a phone screen. No one actually says that to me in person, because I'll show you what a dancer I am. And I can explain to you what a dancer I am.

"So You Think You Can Dance" is back on Fox, and I'm a judge on it. We are just getting into our live studio shows, which are going to be amazing. You're going to get to see some of the best dancing in the world. I'm very excited for it.

My mom was always my dance teacher, so I was never afraid of what I looked like. There's little kids in the competition world who have competitions to see who can eat the least. And stuff like that isn't OK because you need food to feel your body. And you can only physically go so much. And once you're past that limit, it's not fun anymore. And I think that's what people forget about dance, is it's supposed to be a fun thing.

I think all bodies are beautiful. Every time I have this pooch area in my belly, I always say, that's where my baby is going to go one day. We have these bodies, and we have these legs and these arms and these faces that are able to do such magical things, and our senses. And I think we need to spend less time shaming them and more time appreciating them.