ICarly’s Jennette McCurdy: My mom encouraged anorexia
- Jennette McCurdy, who won awards for her role as Sam in ‘iCarly,’ says her mother was a narcissist who taught her about anorexic behaviors.
- In her memoir, McCurdy says she developed bulimia and that her mother would encourage this behavior if she were still alive.
- Children of narcissists are particularly susceptible to eating disorders, a psychologist has said.
Jennette McCurdy, the award-winning actress known for her role as Sam in Nickelodeon’s “iCarly,” says her mother taught her to be anorexic from age 11. In her memoir “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” McCurdy details her mother Debra’s physical and emotional abuse, which she suffered until her death from cancer in 2013.
McCurdy wrote that her mother constantly commented on how young she looked for her age, which her mother believed would help her book more acting roles. Debra was also crying while holding McCurdy and telling her that she wanted her to stay physically small and young.
It caused a young McCurdy to think, “If I start growing, mommy won’t love me so much,” and to feel guilty at every sign of normal growth, such as developing breasts and growing taller. She asked her mom how she could keep her “crazy people from coming” to please her, and her mom suggested a “secret thing” called calorie restriction, McCurdy wrote.
Now 30, McCurdy wrote that participating in anorexic behaviors with her narcissistic mother robbed her of her childhood. She also wrote that if Debra were still alive, she thinks she would support the bulimia McCurdy developed after her death.
Narcissistic parents, who see their children as an extension of themselves, will use control tactics to manipulate them into matching their self-important image. Craig Malkinpsychologist and author of “Rethinking Narcissism,” told Insider.
He said that if a narcissist is “caught up” with fame and physical attractiveness as ways to prove their self-esteem and importance, they prioritize those things at all costs, including the health of their children.
As a child, McCurdy says she would ‘team up’ with her mother to count calories and weekly weigh-ins
As a child, McCurdy said she saw her mother’s obsession with her height as a sign of love.
They would “team up” to count their calories and stay accountable to their weight goals, she wrote. This included weekly weigh-ins.
In order to control their children, narcissistic parents often reserve praise and emotional availability for times when their child behaves exactly as they would like, according to Malkin.
“She was like, ‘For you to be special to me, you have to play the right way. You have to look the right way. You have to realize certain things,” Malkin said.
When a child finds out, they will do anything to gain the narcissist’s approval, even if it means pretending to like something they don’t like or hiding parts of themselves, did he declare.
McCurdy wrote that she weighs herself five times a day to have the best weekly weigh-in possible and impress her mother.
After her mother’s death, McCurdy began gorging and purging herself
When her mother died, McCurdy said she developed bulimia and could not stop gorging and purging. She said she considered purging a way to undo the shame she felt about eating.
As adults, children of narcissists may unconsciously develop behaviors that recreate the feeling they had as children when they had to earn their parents’ approval, Malkin said. Since bulimia and purging are often linked to shame and guilt, these acts could be ways to feel these emotions and maintain the feeling of codependency, even if the narcissist is not physically present.
He said it’s a “complicated grief reaction” that could be in response to the loss of a narcissistic parent, and could also be a way to hide from difficult emotions they’ve had to ignore as a child to please their parent.