iCarly star Jennette McCurdy writes about eating disorderPhoto by InstagramJennette McCurdy starred in popular Nickelodeon shows as Sam Puckett in iCarly and Sam & Cat.
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder Discussion Below
Let’s get real about social media: No one is posting a bedhead, bare-faced, just got off work or a long flight when they are jet-lagged and motion-sick, kind of selfie. They are posted the air-brushed, filtered to the max, makeup on, relaxing in a beautiful destination sipping a delicious drink, kind of selfie.
In an age where “influencer culture” is so prominent on social media, young people are constantly observing perfection all around them. Women with surgically enhanced, photoshopped and downright unattainable bodies are posting their bikini selfies and trying to sell you their workout routines and detox teas. This behavior is fueling the immense social pressure and unrealistic expectations young girls have for themselves, and thus, perpetuating body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
Although young women are facing this issue more than ever all around the world, the toxic bubble of Hollywood has placed stifling pressure on the women in it to be flawless in every way for as long as it’s been around. It is important for these women in the limelight to come out and share their stories so that young girls everywhere can see for themselves that they are not alone.
Admirably, former "iCarly" star Jennette McCurdy has recently come out with an extensive article with Huffington Post on her 13-year battle with anorexia and bulimia where she discussed the tremendous amount of pressure put on her by those whom she trusted and admired most.
At age 11, McCurdy remembers her obsession with food and dieting commencing, as her mother pushed her to count her calories, portion out her meals and compare her size to other child actresses. She mistook her mother’s neurosis for love and care, when really all she needed was someone to help alleviate the pressure of getting cast for roles.
At age 18, McCurdy was on a hugely popular Nickelodeon show, her mother was terminally ill with cancer and she had a deal with a fancy record label. She recalls all the crippling tension and pressure making her turn to food. Binge eating and purging became part of the vicious, toxic cycle by age 21. Now, McCurdy could eat all she wanted, self-loathe and then throw it back up to remove the guilt.
“My disordered eating was reinforced wherever I went and by whomever I saw. I’d lose weight and go to a wardrobe fitting where the stylist would look at me excitedly, wag a pair of double 0 jeans and happily singsong, ‘Down a size!’” McCurdy said, according to the article.
Her agent and producers would compliment her appearance and encourage her to keep up whatever she was doing. Little did they know McCurdy was muting them on the phone while she purged her “spicy tuna roll.” It is evident that the young actress’s destructive behavior was obvious to those around her, but no one ever confronted her or asked her to seek help.
Eventually, at the age of 23 when McCurdy was on the brink of death several times, she decided to try seeking serious help in which she described the recovery as brutal. “It felt like breaking up with a bad boyfriend whom I loved even though I knew I shouldn’t," she said, according to the article. "He treated me poorly, he ruined my life, he consistently devastated me — and yet, without him, who was I really?”
The actress has since relapsed a couple of times, which her therapist Hank said is a huge part of recovery, but has been doing well for the past two years. Other famous celebrities have been candid about their struggles with eating disorders and body shaming, such as Demi Lovato and Jameela Jamil. Their stories are powerful and influential on the many young women around the world dealing with the same battle.
It is our job as people and active members of the online community to perpetuate body positivity, kindness, healthy living and encouragement of women all shapes, colors and sizes. There is nothing more powerful than women uniting in support of one another and sharing their stories in the hopes of giving someone the strength to seek help when all others are failing them.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.