JoJo Siwa's Most Controversial Moments

JoJo Siwa might not strike anyone as a controversial personality. The former "Dance Moms" star, known for her giant bows and seemingly boundless energy, has become an icon for young kids around the world. But outside of that family-friendly image, she's had some bizarre drama with fellow public figures over the years. Justin Bieber faced the wrath of Siwa's fans when he told her to "burn" her custom-painted 15th birthday car in 2018. He later apologized in a tweet, explaining that he was just objecting to the vibrant colors of the car — which features a rendering of Siwa's face on the hood — not Siwa. "I really hope you didn't think it was malicious," the "Sorry" singer wrote.  "It's all good bro," she replied on Twitter, joking that all would be forgiven if Bieber came and performed at her 16th birthday party. 

Another mess arrived when DaBaby namechecked her in the song "Beatbox," quipping, "JoJo Siwa, b****." He denied having any beef with the teen star, telling Siwa on Twitter that he'd purchased every JoJo Siwa product available for his daughter, who is a big fan. "Don't let em trick you into thinking I'd ever have a problem with you. My word play just went over their heads," he added, urging her to "keep shining!" (Per Genius, the lyric is apparently a play on "JoJo see why"; "JoJo" is thought to be a reference to Jonathan, his first name.)

Keep reading to find out about more unusual controversies surrounding the "Boomerang" singer.

Her bows were banned

When JoJo Siwa joined the "Dance Moms" cast, her seemingly never-ending collection of bows joined, too. And after she went on to become an internet sensation, elementary school kids around the world started flocking to buy big, eye-catching hair bows just like hers. The popularity of the JoJo bowbows caused a surprising amount of backlash in UK primary schools, where staff started banning the accessory. One headteacher told The Sun that the large colorful bows had become too much of a thing among students. "We have a massive curriculum now in primary schools and there is simply no time for added distractions like this," he said.

In a 2017 chat with Newsround in 2017, the YouTuber defended fans who liked wearing them and expressed disappointment in the bans. "[The bow] is a sign, a symbol of power, confidence," she mused. "This isn't a word, but believing-ness." Though she did not support the bans, she urged kids to leave them at home if their schools didn't allow them. Always one to look out for her fans, Siwa didn't want anyone getting in trouble.

Her makeup line was recalled because of asbestos

JoJo Siwa's empire of merchandise took a hit in 2019 when her Claire's makeup line was recalled by the FDA over asbestos concerns. The teen had become known for her bright, glittery makeup looks, and her team decided to collaborate with the accessories store, which has always been a favorite of tween girls. Understandably, a lot of parents were seriously concerned when the FDA posted a photo of one of the line's offerings on Twitter and warned asbestos had been found in some of the products. In a since-deleted video (via Teen Vogue), Siwa stated, "I just want to let everyone know that no matter what, safety is myself and Nickelodeon's number one priority in everything, in every product, and everything out there."

Siwa also announced that they were pulling the makeup set from stores everywhere and ceasing production. "Thank you for understanding, because it is serious to me, and it means a lot to me. It is my name, my brand, and it is my face — quite literally," she said. A spokesperson for Claire's told USA Today that the company maintained that their products were in fact safe, since there was only a trace amount of asbestos found, but that they would refund any customers.

She feuded with fellow Dance Moms alumni

"Dance Moms," the reality show that launched dancers like JoJo Siwa and Maddie Ziegler into the spotlight, has never been controversy-free. Dance teacher Abby Lee Miller, in particular, has faced accusations of bullying and racism from her young starlets, and served jail time following a bankruptcy fraud conviction. But Siwa has always stood up for her former mentor, crediting her success to Miller. "It makes me really, really upset that I am one of the few — there's only a few people — that really truly thank Abby, and are thankful and grateful for what she's done for us. Because without her, 'Dance Moms' wouldn't be a thing," Siwa told ET in 2020. 

That same year, Siwa squared off with Christi Lukasiak after the former Dance Mom accused Gianna Martello, one of the show's choreographers, of bullying her daughter Chloe Lukasiak. "That is absolutely the most disgusting ignorant thing I have ever heard anyone say," Siwa told her TikTok followers, praising the choreographer's personality and her work ethic. Christi responded with her own TikTok, clarifying that her daughter and Siwa were not on the show at the same time. "If she had an amazing, positive experience then I'm really happy that's how it went," she added. "I honestly just wish mine had been a little similar."

The blackface controversy surrounding her music video

When JoJo Siwa put out a music video that sparked accusations regarding blackface, the dancer felt the need to speak out.

In July 2020, Siwa released the music video for "NONSTOP." The song, which expresses the teen star's love of performing, was accompanied by a visual showing her as the ringleader of a circus. She's surrounded by performers in outlandish costumes: some are dressed up on stilts, others are covered in silver, and many are dressed as animals. One, a contortionist who plays a monkey, wears brown makeup — a choice that raised concerns. Per People, a number of viewers called the singer out for the apparent use of blackface in the video.

Siwa took to Instagram to address the social media storm, insisting that there was no malicious intent behind the makeup. "We're talking about kids dressing up as circus animals! No one in my video is wearing blackface," she wrote. "I will say it again for the ones in the back, Black Lives Matter, today, tomorrow, yesterday, and forever. I'm on the right side of history here. Stop trying to make this about something it isn't." When social media users pointed out that her IG post regarding the criticism was not an apology, she stuck by her original response. "I didn't do anything that needs an apology.... this is me clearing things up," she tweeted.

The 'inappropriate' JoJo Siwa game

Parents were upset by the mature content in a board game released as part of JoJo Siwa's brand, which was taken off shelves in 2021. As Insider reported, negative reviews of JoJo's Juice first surfaced in 2018 when consumers pointed out that the kids' game included questions about dating and walking in on someone naked. "Have you ever gone outside without underwear (a bathing suit doesn't count)?" another card asked.

Siwa responded to the outcry on Instagram, telling her fans that she was not at all okay with the product. "When companies make these games, they don't run every aspect by me, so I had no idea of the types of questions that were on these playing cards," she explained, insisting that she would never have given the go-ahead to JoJo's Juice if she had been aware of its content.

Nickelodeon and Spin Master, who had collaborated on the product, released a statement confirming that the game was no longer being produced and wouldn't be available for purchase. "We respect and value the relationship JoJo Siwa has with her fans and take the concerns raised regarding the game JoJo's Juice very seriously," the companies asserted. One Viacom executive told Entertainment Weekly that it had been Siwa's decision to pull the product, praising her work ethic and tenacity.

She faced homophobia after coming out

JoJo Siwa sparked a lot of curiosity when she appeared on TikTok lip synching to "Born This Way" in 2021 and she later confirmed everyone's suspicions by officially coming out. As the YouTube star told Entertainment Weekly, she received support from celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Nas X after revealing her girlfriend Kylie Prew. But she sadly also faced a wave of homophobia from the public. Per BuzzFeed, one Instagram commenter told the star that she would no longer let her daughter watch Siwa's content, to which Siwa replied with one word: "Okay!"

The dancer later told People that she knew how risky it was to come out as a children's entertainer whose brand relied on being family-friendly. "I have a lot that could have gone away because of my love life," Siwa added. And that fear was exacerbated by the online reaction, which she immediately regretted checking out. "I never should have done that. I was thinking that all the comments were going to be nice and supportive, and they weren't," she recalled. The dancer confessed that she was rattled after seeing homophobic parents target her in their comments.

In the end, however, there was enough love to drown out the hate. "I've never gotten this much support from the world," Siwa stated. "I think this is the first time that I've felt so personally happy."

Her stint on Dancing With The Stars was questioned

JoJo Siwa made history on "Dancing With The Stars" in 2021 by dancing with ballroom pro Jenna Johnson. "They asked, would I be more comfortable with a female or with a male and immediately I knew for myself I would be way more comfortable with a girl," she explained to People. "I have a chance right now to make history and to break down a barrier and there's nothing that I would rather do than that." 

Her presence on the show sparked controversy for another reason: fans of the series objected to Siwa's participation because she was already a professional dancer. Her experience even prompted a Gawker article calling for the supposedly overqualified star to be removed from "Dancing With The Stars" completely. "I explain it as a football player trying to play basketball," Siwa argued, defending her presence on the competition show. "I also think, too, I'm going to be judged a lot harder."

In the end, the former "Dance Moms" star came second to NBA star Iman Shumpert. "I think the crew on the show and the casting department is an amazing team," Siwa told Teen Vogue afterward, praising the show for taking a chance on her. "I feel like, if it makes sense, there should be and will be multiple more same-sex pairings. I'm happy I got to be the first, but I would never expect to be the last."

She fell out with Nickelodeon

Though the network is a big deal to many of her fans, JoJo Siwa hasn't shied away from criticizing Nickelodeon publicly. In September 2021, she told her Twitter followers that the brand had stopped her from using her own music on an upcoming tour. "My movie musical was just released," Siwa tweeted in September 2021 (via E! News). "Nickelodeon told me today that I'm not allowed to perform/add any of the songs from the film into my show." Her movie, "The J Team," had six new original tracks performed by the teen pop star, who claimed that no reason had been given for the order. "Working for a company as a real human being treated as only a brand is fun until it's not," Siwa added.

The feud reared its head again in 2022 when Siwa was snubbed by the Kids' Choice Awards, prompting questions about why a Nickelodeon star wouldn't have shown up to their event. She told fans that she hadn't received an invite in an Instagram post, adding, "I don't want anyone to think it was my choice not to go." Many speculated that it had something to do with her coming out publicly, as Vanity Fair reported, but a source from Nickelodeon insisted that it was an honest mistake. "This had nothing to do with her as a person," the source claimed, blaming COVID-19 restrictions. "That is so off the mark and very upsetting. It was truly an unfortunate mistake and she definitely should have been there."

Some SYTYCD fans aren't fans

Season 17 of "So You Think You Can Dance" hasn't gone off without a hitch. Halfway through the show's run, judge Matthew Morrison left his spot on the panel. According to People, he got the ax after sending an inappropriate message to a female contestant. "She felt uncomfortable with his line of comments and went to producers, who then got Fox involved," their source added. "He was fired after they did their own investigation." Morrison denied any accusations of inappropriate conduct on his Instagram.

Following his departure, some "SYTYCD" viewers wrote online that JoJo Siwa should've been the one to go instead. "18 Years of Dance Knowledge, 4 Major dance TV shows, I've hired over 1000 dancers. 16 Dance music videos," she wrote in response to the critics. "If you don't like me that's okay... but if you think I don't know about dance ya just sound silly." Siwa also told Kelly Clarkson that being on the show means a lot to her. "It's fun because I left the dance world for a long time," she said. "Now to be a part of 'So You Think,' it's unreal."