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YouTuber Tana Mongeau is facing a huge backlash after she dressed as a “sexy” version of young social media star JoJo Siwa for Halloween. The problem? Siwa is only 15 years old. Now, Mongeau is saying she didn’t mean to sexualize Siwa and said that Siwa actually encouraged the costume.
Not everybody, though, is buying Mongeau’s explanation.
The controversy began on Thursday when Mongeau, who has 3.7 million YouTube subscribers and nearly 4 million more followers on Twitter and Instagram, tweeted this.
Siwa has 8 million YouTube subscribers and is best known for her appearances on the Lifetime show Dance Moms and for vlogging about her everyday life—mostly teenager-type content like giving tours of her “epic” new bedroom and showing how she creates side ponytails. She’s also very much underage. That wasn’t lost on some of the people who saw Mongeau’s tweet that generated 5,000 retweets and 63,000 likes.
Not only did Mongeau dress like Siwa, but with a bare backside in a thong, she also labeled it “hoe hoe” and tagged her in the tweet.
Seriously what is wrong with you oh my god— Leighton Stollard (@yeahsureiguess) November 1, 2018
Mmmmmmmkay so what we ain't gonna do is sexualize a child— Darr 🕸 (@FundipGal) November 1, 2018
Shane, you should undo this retweet. She’s sexualizing a child and it looks very wrong. You probably didn’t mean it in a bad way and thought it was funny, but the message you’re sending is wrong.— Nessie (@thelochnesss) November 1, 2018
Can’t wait for the apology video for tagging a CHILD in a half naked picture of herself lol.— Auntie Coco (@ago19) November 1, 2018
Tana I love you but this is truly the worst thing I've ever seen please tell me at least one of your friends tried to talk you out of this, I'm screaming— frenchiest ᴡᴏʀᴍ #2 (@dogwithknife) November 1, 2018
In response, Mongeau tweeted that she “saw some tweets about my Jojo costume and I just wanna clarify before things get crazy—Jojo is a great friend of mine & I would never intend to sexualize HER, I literally think that anything like that is gross as fuck. It was just like a slutty schoolgirl costume, girl scout, or cheerleader to me. I totally didn’t see it that way and would never want to! I LOVE Jojo and making crazy halloween costumes and she was telling me to do it! just wanted to let u know my standpoint on that before I see anything else.”
That explanation, though, didn’t necessarily satisfy Twitter.
jojo is a real life fucking minor you weirdo, she isn’t a group activity or hobby that you can create some weird sexualized outfit out of. don’t justify sexualizing her and her looks by saying “she was telling me to do it.” she’s the minor. you’re the grown ass adult, act like it— ariel (@iIuvworms) November 1, 2018
Mongeau has seen plenty of controversy in the past few years. In 2017, she was the focus of an iDubbbz video in which she was seen saying the N-word on multiple occasions on social media. At the time, she tweeted, “I have made a lot of mistakes, and the right thing to do is own up to them, and move on … I’ve made so many mistakes and even at 18, I’m still trying to learn. I intend on owning up to everything, and hoping you’ll forgive me.”
In June, her newly created festival TanaCon was overrun with problems and overcrowding, and it eventually had to be canceled. Afterward, she tweeted, “Being 19, and planning a convention is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and being the face of every problem is hard and I’m sorry. So sorry. I wish we would’ve had two arenas and 10,000 more security. I’m fucking dumb obviously but at the end of the day my number one priority is your happiness.”
Her judgment is still being questioned. Meanwhile, another controversial star also dressed up like Siwa for Halloween. Fortunately for Jake Paul, his costume was a little more appropriate.
H/T We the Unicorns
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.