Inside JoJo Siwa’s ‘cringe’ bad girl rebrand as she unveils new look ahead of Karma single release

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A child star’s transition into adulthood is an age-old right of passage, and one only a handful have ever truly managed it successfully.

For every Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, there’s been a Victoria Justice and a Haley Joel Osment; stars who have failed to evolve their brand and flourish into fully-fledged celebrities.

Now, it’s former Dance Moms star JoJo Siwa’s turn, and she’s going down the classic good girl gone bad route that worked so well for the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera back in the early 2000s.

Sadly for Siwa, who still drives around Los Angeles in a car emblazoned with her face on the paintwork with the interior covered in colourful rainbow stickers, the attempted rebrand appears anything but genuine to audiences who don’t seem to be falling for it.

Siwa has amassed more than 30 million TikTok followers since she rose to fame on Dance Moms in her early teens.

She quickly made a name for herself and became one of the show’s biggest breakout stars, with millions of pre-teen girls falling head over heels for her child-friendly, unicorn-loving, rainbow-coloured persona.

She began to build her career around her signature high-ponytail with a bow, and quickly morphed into a Wiggles-style entertainer.

However, criticism soon began to follow her from all corners of the internet, with social media poking fun at the star for appearing to dress and act far younger than she actually was, with fake social media rumours even emerging of her being trapped in a contract that was forcing her to act such a way.

After years of channelling the spirit of Willy Wonka, Siwa has finally now decided to break out of her childlike fantasy realm and embrace who she truly is at heart; which, according to her new image, is a watered-down version of Miley Cyrus from the star’s now-iconic Can’t Be Tamed music video.

The sudden and intense shift from has collectively given social media whiplash, and it’s sparked a wave of commentary online as Siwa gears up to release her new single Karma on April 5.

But it all feels disengenious.

Sure, Britney and Christina were both child stars who “went bad” and received a wave of backlash for it.

But while their undeserved backlash was centred around how it was supposedly impacting their impressionable young fans, Siwa’s is instead rooted in ridicule.

Just two years ago, Siwa was angrily responding to critics telling her to “act her age” by rapping along to Doja Cat lyrics and hitting back in the comment section. She was defiant that the characature she had created, of which critics have previously labelled “creepy” and “unsettling”, was authentically and intrinsically her… and yet here we are today.

The shift is so sudden, so manufactured, and what’s more, it’s a double-edged sword for Siwa, who built her brand on sharing every single part of herself on social media.

As a result, it’s become far harder to have us fooled.