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There was a time when Jana Duggar was a wildly popular presence on social media.

With nearly a million followers on Instagram, the eldest Duggar daughter genuinely seemed to enjoy sharing frequent updates about her hobbies and interests with her massive audience.

But like several other members of her massive family, Jana has decided to keep a lower profile in recent years.

In fact, she hasn’t posted anything on Instagram since March of 2022.

Jana Duggar talks to producers during her time on Counting On. (TLC)

Jana has never spoken publicly about her decision to step away from the spotlight, but the move likely has to do with the Josh Duggar sex scandals and the many other controversies that have impacted her family in recent years.

Other Duggars have demonstrated a similar wariness of public platforms, and in each of those cases, the decision appeared to be the result of criticism from followers.

As the weeks of her hiatus turned into months, it was widely assumed that Jana’s days of interacting with fans online had come to a close.

So it came as quite a surprise when she made an appearance on YouTube this week — albeit a very brief one.

Jana Duggar smiles at the camera during a camping trip.
Jana Duggar smiles at the camera during a camping trip. (YouTube)

As is so often the case these days, the latest update on life within the Duggar clan came to us from 26-year-old Joy-Anna Duggar.

The mother of three runs a popular YouTube channel, and most of her content has to do with fun family outings.

So when Joy went camping with 15 of her siblings over Thanksgiving weekend, she made sure to document the occasion for the benefit of her 200,000 subscribers.

And many viewers were overjoyed to see that Jana had returned to the public eye — if only for a few minutes.

Jana Duggar cocks her head at the camera during an autumnal family camping trip.
Jana Duggar cocks her head at the camera during an autumnal family camping trip. (YouTube)

“Enjoying it?” Joy asked before pointing the camera in Jana’s direction.

Jana merely smiled and said, “Yes,” but it was enough to give her most devoted followers a mild thrill.

Much has been made of the fact that Jana has lightened her locks.

Some fans went so far as to describe the change in hair color as “drastic” and “dramatic.”

Jana Counting On
Jana Duggar on Counting On. With all her family’s nonsense, that must be a facial expression that she makes quite often. (Photo Credit: TLC)

Others pointed out that the new look is surprising given controversial comments that Jill Duggar made about Jana’s hair color in her recent memoirs.

As you’re probably aware, the Duggar family spent many years under the sway of a powerful cult leader named Bill Gothard.

Gothard founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the organization that inspired many of Jim Bob Duggar’s most bizarre beliefs.

Gothard was eventually forced to resign amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations, but before that happened, Jim Bob allegedly endangered his eldest daughter by encouraging her to spend time alone with this known predator.

Cult leader Bill Gothard resigned from his post in disgrace following dozens of sexual assault and harassment allegations. Here he is with Jim Bob Duggar in 2017. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In her memoir, Jill claims that Gothard had an affinity for blondes, which is why Jana was chosen to serve as one of his assistants.

“We were new to the inner workings of IBLP, but we knew enough already to understand why it was only Jana who was invited,” Jill recalled in the book.

“She was the only elder Duggar girl who was blond, and everybody knew that Mr. Gothard liked blond girls,” she continued.

Jill Duggar and her book
Look out, Michelle and Jim Bob! Jill Duggar has come out with a book that exposes just how evil you truly are. (Photo Credit: Amazon)

“We’d joke about it, calling Jana one of ‘Gothard’s Girls.’ It didn’t occur to me at all how strange, unsafe, and unwise it was.”

We may never know what sort of trauma Jana endured during her upbringing — but we know that she has chosen not to follow in Jill’s footsteps by cutting ties with her parents.

It’s not our place to judge that decision, but we hope someone is protecting Jana and looking out for her mental health.