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Madison De La Garza recalled “starving” herself after facing criticism for her appearance when she was just a kid.
“The reactions that I got to my character on ‘Desperate Housewives,’ it was just shocking,” the actress said on the “Heart of the Matter” podcast Tuesday.
“A lot of people came at it in a way that they were ‘concerned for my health,’ and I personally believe that that’s just not true, that that was a cover-up so that they could just judge a 6-year-old.”
De La Garza, who is Demi Lovato’s younger half-sister, said she would spend “hours and hours” reading comments about herself below YouTube videos despite not being allowed to use a computer “unsupervised” when she was that young.
“I would just spend a crazy amount of time reading through these comments, and most all of them were just atrocious,” she remembered.
“They said things like they wanted me to die because of what I looked like. It was just horrible. And this was when I was 7, 8 years old.”
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De La Garza, now 21, said the cruel comments “definitely affected [her] mental health and ultimately played into [her] developing an eating disorder at a very young age.”
De La Garza joined the hit ABC series in Season 4 as Juanita Solis, the adoptive daughter of Eva Longoria’s Gabrielle Solis and her husband, Carlos Solis (Ricardo Antonia Chavira).
The child star shared that she knew Longoria understood her pain while filming the mystery drama and even “went out of her way” to make her feel better.
“The whole joke of my character was that Eva was this thin, beautiful model and her daughter turned out to be quite the opposite. And so I think she was very aware that this was going to affect me,” De La Garza said, noting that they “never explicitly discussed it.”
“[Longoria] definitely went out of her way to make me feel like I was pretty and like I was special, and she made me feel like I was family,” she added.
“And if I ever did want to go to her with these things, I absolutely could have.”
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.
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