"At the time I just thought, 'Mom wants me to look young so I can book more roles so I can support the family.'"
Jeanette McCurdy opened up about her struggle with eating disorders, saying her late mother "introduced" her to anorexia.
During a guest appearance on "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown" podcast, the former "iCarly" star claimed her mother suggested restricting Jeanette's diet at the age of 11 to help keep her breasts from developing in order to continue landing roles as a child actor.
"My mom was the person that introduced me to anorexia, actually," she began. "I said, 'Well, how can I not develop boobs? I don't want those.' And she said, 'Well, there's a thing called calorie restriction.' Those were her exact words. She did not say the word 'anorexia.' I did not hear the word 'anorexia' until I overheard a doctor talking with my mom a year later when I had lost X amount of weight and was rail-thin, and it sounded like a dinosaur to me. I remember that distinctly, like, 'Hmm, somebody's talking about me like I'm a dinosaur. But it was her talking to my mom about my eating disorder, which my mom denied in order for her to be able to support it."
It was only after her mother died in 2013 from breast cancer that Jennette said she finally understood how she was affected by her mother's actions.
"At the time I just thought, 'Mom's looking out for me, Mom wants me to not have breasts so that I don't have breast cancer, Mom wants me to look young so I can book more roles so I can support the family and do the thing,'" she explained.
She also revealed she dealt with her mother's death in a variety of ways, including developing bulimia.
"That same week [of her death] was the first time that I had sex, the first time that I made myself throw up -- bulimia, which I then had for a few years -- and the first time that I had a drink of alcohol. Those coping mechanisms all kind of hit at once."
At a low point, she was purging five to 10 times a day. Jennette added, "Anytime that I wasn't purging, I was thinking about my next time purging. That was how my mind was just oriented."
It wasn't until her sister-in-law confronted her at a Thanksgiving one year that she decided to seek help. But discovering family had known about her struggle while she was trying to hide it all along was a blow as well.
"I thought that I was this gifted secret-keeper," she said. "I wasn't good at that. That was pretty much all I had during that time, was hoping and clinging to the fact that maybe my shame was my own but knowing that, eh, you actually weren't pulling the wool over anybody's eyes, that was a bummer."