Jennette McCurdy has revealed heartbreaking information to People about her relationship with her mother — who passed away in 2013 from cancer.
The 29-year-old actor, who is widely known for her role as Sam Puckett in the popular Nickelodeon show “iCarly,” told the magazine that her mother sexually abused her, People reported.
McCurdy has been candid in the past about having an eating disorder, which she has said was spurred by her mother’s influence.
But according to the magazine, McCurdy’s mom also “insisted on performing vaginal and breast exams” on her daughter until she was 17, and “never let her daughter shower alone.”
HuffPost confirmed the information with McCurdy’s publicist, who had no further comment.
Although People does not quote McCurdy directly on this, the actor — who stars in her one-woman show “I’m Glad My Mom Died” and is publishing an upcoming memoir of the same name — is quoted saying that it took her years of therapy to dismantle the abuse, which she said was also emotional.
“It was only distance from her that allowed me to get healthy,” McCurdy told People.
McCurdy described her childhood to People as “heaviness, and chaos” due to her mom’s emotions that were “so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day.”
“My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor and she became obsessed with making me a star,” said McCurdy, adding:
“I felt like my job was to keep the peace. And I wanted to make my mom happy.”
McCurdy has written about her mother for major publications over the years — and her attitude toward her has shifted over time.
In 2011, she wrote an essay for The Wall Street Journal in which she expressed admiration for her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer after a 15 year remission.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for my mother to tolerate all she has gone through and continues to go through - the pain, the worry and the battle,” McCurdy wrote at the time. “She wakes up every day hurting and goes to sleep hurting even more. My mother, the constant optimist and effervescent, sprightly woman I know her to be, is caged along with this hideous beast they call cancer.”
In 2019 — after extensive therapy and being in recovery from anorexia and bulimia for two years — the former child star was much more candid about how her mother’s emotional abuse affected her in a HuffPost Personal piece.
In it, she wrote that her disordered eating began at age 11. She said that her mom would regularly compare her body to those of other girls, “portion out my meals for me” and “help me count calories.”
McCurdy said that at the time she wasn’t bothered by her mom’s “suggestions” and thought “that she was actually helping me” stay thin so she could get acting roles.
“‘Are you sure you want ice cream? You’ve already had 900 calories today,’ she’d remind me as I yanked open the freezer door,” McCurdy wrote for HuffPost. “I’d pause, rethinking my decision, and then I’d lose my grip on the door and let it shut slowly as a wistful expression crossed my face. That’s mom, always looking out for me.”
McCurdy also described an interaction she had with her mom at age 12 that “should have been alarming enough to make me question mom’s support.”
She described riding in the car on her way home from a dance class when her mother told her:
“‘Angelica’s mom is really concerned about your weight. She said she brought it up to the other dance moms and they’re all worried you’re too thin. They’re thinking about calling to get you help,’” McCurdy recalled.
McCurdy wrote that her mom’s next words to her were:
“‘If anybody asks, just tell them you’re eating normally,’ she directed.”
In June, an “iCarly” reboot premiered and McCurdy was noticeably absent. People’s podcast “People Everyday” explains that McCurdy decided not to participate in the reboot because of her mom’s abuse while she was working on the original show. The podcast also explained that McCurdy said she did the “iCarly” spinoff series “Sam & Cat” in 2013 because it was her mother’s “dying wish” for her to do the show.
McCurdy told People she believes that if her mom were still alive, she’d “still have an eating disorder” and that after her mom’s death she “did not know how to find my identity without my mom.”
But she also said she made it her “mission” to create a life for herself outside of her mom’s control.
“And I’m not going to lie. It was very hard to get here,” McCurdy told People. “But now, I’m at a place in my life that I never would have thought was possible. And I finally feel free.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.