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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Pop Culture Psych: What JoJo Siwa can teach us about self-awareness

Ever wonder what motivates an overenthusiastic, bow-wearing eighteen-year-old? We looked into the mega-star’s self-awareness and success.
Alexa White
What’s the secret to JoJo Siwa’s success? And what can we learn from her? (Photo by Ralph Arvesen)

How does a teen in a psychedelic bow stay relevant for eight years?

JoJo Siwa has been kicking it in the spotlight since her debut on Season 2 of Dance Moms in 2013. Almost eight years later, it seems that she might just be at the beginning of her success. The star has created a bow brand, made some cringy YouTube videos and become a household name. 

But, behind all the bling and success, the secret to this high-energy teen’s mega-success—and a window into her future—may lie in the patterns of her personality. 


Where do we even start? 

An eighteen year-old who uses a toilet emblazoned with her face and boasts an affinity for neon bows may seem like, well, not your average teenager. To understand the anomaly that is JoJo, let’s take a look at where it all began: the Abby Lee Dance Company. 

Some of JoJo’s earliest moments from Lifetime’s hit reality show “Dance Moms” shed light on her sassy, unafraid persona. 

“People hate on me because I know they’re jealous of me,” JoJo once said once said on “Dance Moms.” On at least one occasion, she was kicked out of class for talking back to Abby, something none of the other girls dared to do. She values honesty even in the face of conflict. “Well, I mean, if it is the truth, I don’t mind it being said,” she once told Abby. In this regard, she was acting like a typical Enneagram 8: the Protector. 

However, I don’t think JoJo is in an 8. 

Enneagram 8s spend their lives striving for power. They are independent and will use any means necessary to achieve their desired ends. Though this description makes some sense for JoJo, I don’t think this is her typebecause for her, such behavior is the deviation, not the trend. 

Think of it like the line representing the U.S. economy: a general upward trend with deviations for recessions and expansions. For humans, “deviations” can be seen as our day-to-day behavior: you might skip class for no reason, talk back to your mom or rush out of the Abby Lee Dance Company in a huff (just like my average Saturday). These actions, while indicative of some personality traits, fail to reach the core of our primary drives. Your “trend,” is the single largest force behind the direction of your life—it’s how you perceive your purpose on this earth. The “trend” indicates your Enneagram type. 

Based on this criteria, JoJo Siwa is a 3 on the Enneagram: the Performer. 3s are similar to 8s in their ambition, but value success for the sake of public appearance rather than asserting power. 3s may feel unloved and guilty in childhood, and consequently compensate for these strong emotions by suppressing them and seeking “love” through attention. This explains JoJo’s go-getter lifestyle and major focus on her personal brand. Somehow, I just can’t see a stone-faced 8 becoming famous from a hair bow brand. 


A different kind of Enneagram 3

3s on the Enneagram are driven toward success because they care about how others perceive them. JoJo’s bold, colorful outfits likely aim to attract attention, and her optimism and constant smiling are hallmarks of the camera-loving Enneagram 3. 

But, with so many 3s in the world, what sets this 18-year-old with a $20 million net worth apart? 

“I work a lot,” JoJo explained in an interview with People. Since she got her GED two years ago, JoJo has spent her time dancing, filming—her autobiographical movie “The J Team” came out earlier this year—and slapping her name and likeness on everything she can (“JoJo”-branded products can be found at Target, Walmart and JCPenney). 

If you ask me, her work ethic, likeability and success stem not just from her primary Enneagram type, but the traits that lie at the intersection of her top three types. In addition to a primary Enneagram type, each person has a “tritype,” or one number that describes them best from each “triad” of the Enneagram. JoJo’s tritype seems to be “387,” meaning that she is primarily a 3, but also has traits of an 8, the Protector, and a 7, the Adventurer. 

Due to their emphasis on attention, 3s without this same tritype may sometimes get lazy with the substance of their work or lack the emotional depth necessary to engage an audience long-term. However, JoJo’s Enneagram 8 and 7 sides balances this. The 8 externalizes anger, which often means speaking up for justice and bearing one’s full emotions to the world out of sheer honesty. Such behavior was apparent when JoJo boldly came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the summer of 2020 and proclaimed that she did not want people buying her products if they didn’t support that. 

Conversely, JoJo’s 7 side lends her a childlike magnetism that goes beyond the intense work ethic of a 3. 7s have a childlike view of life that can seem irresponsible but also comes with an admirable innocence. For JoJo, this gives her a magnetic personality, as she believes the world doesn’t have to be a cutthroat place, pushing her above the rest in likeability as well as work ethic. Plus, proudly sporting sparkly bows as a teen in the public eye is a major part of her brand.

Essentially, JoJo Siwa is a thought-leader on embracing childhood. 


So, what’s going on inside this girl’s head?

As we see for many child stars, 3s on the Enneagram sometimes fizzle out, either because they lack the emotional depth to engage an audience or because they are consumed by their tumultuous emotions beneath the surface. 

I predict that this won’t be the case for JoJo for two reasons.

First, JoJo is likely a 3 wing 4 (a “wing” is a secondary type next to your primary type that partially influences your personality). While 3s suppress their strong sense of guilt and try to attract positive attention through their performance, 4s are masters at emotional expression and embracing their unique identity. JoJo would not have stayed relevant for this long if she was just the bow-touting, optimistic dancer that many of us initially thought she was. The public likes seeing vulnerability when connecting with public figures, and JoJo’s combination of a 3’s work ethic and 4’s self-expression have enabled her to do just that. 

She has worked her heart out on rehearsals and brand deal signings while also showing us her true self. Just consider her coming out story—she not only showed us her true self but was incredibly relatable, expressing that she does not want a label and just wants to be herself. 4s value personal identity and don’t want anyone else defining it for them, a sentiment that likely resonated with many JoJo fans. 

“My thing is, I don’t want people to watch my videos or buy my merchandise if they aren’t going to support not only me, but the LGBTQ community,” she said in a People interview

JoJo has also embraced the common classic social justice focus of the 8 in her coming out journey and support for Pride. So, while the public often gets bored with showy, emotionally closed off 3s, JoJo has embraced her showiness while adding vulnerability and sincerity to make the public remain interested.  


What’s on the menu for JoJo?

Despite showing growth beyond the cookie-cutter 3, JoJo still strongly values her image and struggles with negative public commentary on her fame. Like many 3s, she often feels like her value comes solely from her accomplishments, and thus garners a sense of “love” from her past success. 

This outlook was apparent when she explained her experience meeting her now ex-girlfriend Kylie Prew. When speaking of how she met Prew, she explained that she initially introduced herself by describing her accomplishments. “I told her my whole spiel that I tell everyone when they ask me my life story,” JoJo said. “She goes, ‘I could have Googled that. I want to know your life story. You just told me about your career. I want to know about you.’ And I was like, ‘No one’s ever asked me that before.’”

Although JoJo is no longer romantically involved with Kylie, continuing this shift away from finding value in accomplishments towards a more holistic view of her self-worth will be the key to persisting fame for JoJo. 

She has already shown tremendous growth in coming out and embracing a more emotionally vulnerable public persona. As she moves forward, she will need to ensure this emotional growth is sincere, because if it is just a way of doubling down on attention-seeking behavior, this vulnerability could inadvertently drag her back into self-limiting 3 tendencies. 

Like all of us, JoJo has far to go when it comes to emotional growth, but she is advancing there impressively, with relatively high self-awareness and a strategic presentation of her personality to the public. 

As we head into the future, you may want to prepare to see more of JoJo Siwa, not less.

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About the Contributors
Veronica Tadross
Veronica Tadross, Senior Staff Writer
Veronica Tadross ('25) is majoring in economics and history and minoring in Arabic in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Long Island, N.Y., and you can reach her at [email protected].
Alexa White
Alexa White, Former Graphics Director
Alexa White ('23) is from Traverse City, Michigan, and is double-majoring in secondary education and English. When she isn't writing for The Hustler, she is probably teaching, reading or creating art. After graduation, Alexa plans to be an English teacher and hopes to inspire kids to love reading, writing and exploring their creativity in all forms. She can be reached at [email protected].
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