Jennette McCurdy Speaks About Her Abusive Childhood

"I know if my mom were alive, I'd still have an eating disorder."
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Trigger Warning: This article deals with the topic of abuse and eating disorders.

Former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy has shared candid details about her abusive childhood. 

You may remember Jennette McCurdy, 29, as Sam Puckett from Nickelodeon’s iCarly, where she starred alongside Miranda Cosgrove, Nathan Kress, Jerry Trainor, and more. Or even as the same character in the later spin-off sitcom Sam & Cat, where she shared the screen with Ariana Grande. 

WATCH: Demi Lovato opens up about her eating disorder

But while Sam Puckett was known for her rebellious antics, the reality of Jennette’s upbringing was wildly different, largely due to her mother, Debbie, who died of cancer in 2013. 

The child star spoke to People ahead of the launch of her new one-woman show, I’m Glad My Mum Died, about the abuse she received while growing up.  


Jennette McCurdy has spoken candidly about her abusive childhood. (Credit: Getty)

Jennette told the publication that her earliest childhood memories were of “heaviness” and “chaos”, explaining that her mum wanted her to be a star from a young age, and thrusted her into the spotlight as a result.

“My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor and she became obsessed with making me a star,” the 29-year-old said, revealing that she accordingly went on auditions even through she was “cripplingly shy”. 

It was earlier this year in her podcast, Empty Inside, that Jennette, who has now turned to writing and directing, revealed that she didn’t want to act. But considering her role on iCarly was the main form of financial support for the family, she felt an obligation to continue.


In the same interview with People, Jennette also revealed that her mum started bleaching her hair and whitening her teeth when she was 10 years old. A year later, Debbie introduced her daughter to “calorie counting”. 

Jennette’s mother also would perform regular vaginal and breast exams on her daughter and never let her shower alone.

During her teenage years, the actor developed multiple eating disorders, recovering in 2018 after intense therapy.

“I know if my mom were alive, I’d still have an eating disorder,” Jennette said. “It was only distance from her that allowed me to get healthy.”

Jennette turned from acting to writing and directing. (Credit: Instagram)

When it was announced that iCarly was returning to screens in the form of a revival, many fans were saddened to see that Jennette wouldn’t be reprising her role as Sam.

At the time, the star’s representatives released a statement to Newsweek explaining her absence from the reboot.

“Jennette is busy working on her book which sold to Simon & Schuster as well as bringing her one-woman show back to the stage.

“She is also working on some other film & TV projects which have not yet been announced.”

Jennette has also spoken about her decision to quit acting on her podcast. Chatting to actor Anna Faris, the 29-year-old said she “resent(s) her career in a lot of ways”.

Jennette didn’t take part in this year’s iCarly reboot. (Credit: Nickelodeon)

“I feel so unfulfilled by the roles that I played and felt like it was the most just cheesy, embarrassing… I imagine there’s a very different experience to be had with acting if you’re proud of your roles,” she said.

“With [my mother’s] death kind of died a lot of her ideas for my life, and that was its own journey, and a difficult one for sure.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available.

Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website. 

Call The Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 or visit their website.

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