Bordering on Bullying

As a dedicated viewer of the popular reality television show “Dance Moms” (though not necessarily a proud one), I was familiar with Jojo Siwa’s work as a dancer before she became an Internet sensation. Having followed her growth on the show before she left to pursue other opportunities, I’ve seen her become the subject of unwarranted hate.

People across the Internet have called Siwa everything from “cringey” and “obnoxious” to “bratty” and “disgusting”– Justin Bieber even took to Instagram to tell her to burn her car. Those who criticize her immaturity must realize that it is just as fruitless to call out “Sesame Street” or “Dora the Explorer” for being overly-simplistic as it is to pointlessly attack Siwa for not appealing to an older audience.

Siwa should be commended for the positive and innocent YouTube videos, songs and social media posts that she produces. Given that the Internet is full of negative influences, Siwa provides a role model to young girls who might otherwise see wearing full faces of makeup and having a boyfriend by age ten as the norm– or worse, see drugs and sex as appropriate activities for preteens.

If I were a parent, I would rather have my child be a fan of Siwa than of a star like 14-year-old Tik Tok star and YouTuber Danielle Cohn. Siwa may be loud and flamboyant, but her content ultimately promotes being true to oneself. While Cohn has a right to act and dress however she wants, the way that she has presented herself to such a large fan base sends a message that might pressure other 14 year olds to feel the need to post pictures with minimal clothing or mid-makeout session.

Regardless of their actions, the amount of hate toward Siwa, Cohn and other young figures is completely inappropriate. In general, living in a digital era has made it so much easier to visibly hate on celebrities. This is a larger issue in itself, but when children become the punch lines of jokes and the targets of incessant teasing, something needs to change.

Young stars have always been subject to industry criticism, a major factor as to why so many of them have not made the most graceful transition to adulthood. In a society where social media makes it easy to search up Jojo Siwa memes on Instagram or “Why I hate Millie Bobby Brown” compilation videos on YouTube, it will sadly not be surprising to see the “child star gone bad” phenomenon worsen in coming years.

It is difficult to grow up in front of millions of people. Child stars will mess up by making a poor outfit choice or a cringey comment, things all children, famous or not, will do at some point. When the public continues to scrutinize the every move of famous adolescents, it is unfairly damaging to the morale of kids who might not be able to cope with the criticism with the same degree of maturity as an adult.