Jennette McCurdy Gets Candid About Eating Disorder, Says Her Mom Did Not Help

Jennette McCurdy attends a Nickelodeon event.
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Jennette McCurdy is opening up about her battles with a long and hard eating disorder.

Today, the iCarly star penned an op-ed piece for The Huffington Post wherein she detailed her battle with anorexia and bulimia, which began when she was just 11 years old. The actress decided to break her silence in light of the recent National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and this is the first time that she has spoken publicly about it.

Prior to that, McCurdy says that she toyed around with the idea of writing an article on her disorder. However, since she had recently written an article on her mother’s battle with cancer, it was too hard for her. For the past two years, Jennette has been in recovery maintenance, and she is no longer engaged in disordered eating. And now that she has been in therapy and is in a good place, she feels like she can finally tell her story.

“My disordered eating started when I was 11. As a child actress working in Hollywood, I quickly learned that remaining physically small for my age meant I had a better chance of booking more roles. Unfortunately, I had a trusty and dedicated companion ready to help me with my burgeoning anorexia: my mom!”

When she was a teenager, Jennette’s mom was hospitalized for an eating disorder of her own — many times — and she’s convinced that her mom never overcame the disease before she died from cancer. The actress says that she doesn’t hold a grudge against her late mother, despite the fact that she helped her with her disorder.

Not only did Jennette’s mother count calories for her, she’d also portion out her meals — and compare her weight to that of other girls. At the time, she just thought that her mom was trying to help her, and just wanted her to be successful in her career. But once she was 12 years old, Jennette said that she realized she had a problem when her mom told her something strange. Her mother told Jennette that some of her friend’s moms had reached out to her, and they had said that they were worried that she was too thin.

“If anybody asks, just tell them you’re eating normally,” her mother told her.

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McCurdy said that she wishes she could have stopped at that time, but she was invested. She had also booked several roles for characters that were younger than she actually was, due to her small size. Then, she landed a role on the hit show iCarly — and the stress of it all got to her.

“I monitored every bite I took. I exercised obsessively. I measured my thighs with a measuring tape every night before bed.”

Luckily, she started to see an eating disorder specialist when she was 23 years old. Though it was exceedingly tough, she knew that it was something that she needed to do. Though she still does have slip-ups from time to time, she says that she is on the right path — and that it’s easier now.

“Anytime I’ve had a slip, I’ve gotten back on my program. It’s been two years and I’m doing well, recovering and moving forward. I still get eating disorder urges, compulsions and occasional fantasies. I still hear that old eating disorder voice, but luckily I hear it less and less often,” she says.