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Child Stardom and Parent Toxicity: A Look Into Jeanette Mccurdy’s Memoir

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Most of us know Jennette McCurdy from her role as Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon TV series iCarly and later Sam & Cat. In the series she plays an overconfident borderline bully; however, she revealed in her new novel that her real life consisted of a constant need to please her mother and a person she calls the Creator. Her memoir has caused a stir over the harsh truth of the title but also has caused many to question the ethicalities of child stardom. The pages of the memoir are shrouded in hesitancy over whether she should express her true feelings from things as small as ice cream flavor to acting. The massive success of McCurdy’s memoir has opened the eyes of many of her childhood fans to the realities of her life. On release day, it was completely sold out online and in most bookstores.

Her mother’s dream of becoming an actress manifested itself into controlling and monitoring every aspect of McCurdy’s life. Debbie, Jennette’s mother, was always concerned with appearances but it worsened once she saw her daughter gaining fame, she encouraged anorexia and performed vaginal and breast exams until the age of 17. Not only did she experience abuse from her mother but she also explains the ways in which the Creator took advantage by pressuring her to drink and offering massages.  

McCurdy was dealing with the emotional abuse her mother caused and the pressure of having to perform to provide for her family, who heavily relied on her as a source of income. While they did mention that some of her earnings were safe within a Coogan Account she was constantly providing her family with her income. All these opportunities for abuse and for children to be taken advantage of leads many to question whether or not children should be as heavily involved in or even allowed to perform in such an adult industry. The memoir even states that acting had caused McCurdy to expose herself to fake trauma situations in order to cause her to cry which she would eventually and quickly become desensitized to.

Child stars are not in a position to give away their freedom or privacy, McCurdy explains, and once she had gained a certain level of fame, she became recognizable almost anywhere. Parents like Debbie McCurdy who intend to live vicariously through their children may not take into consideration their child’s wants or needs. Many of us are obsessed with the glamorous lifestyle and financial stability that fame seems to provide and in doing so we fail to consider the burdens and responsibilities.

McCurdy now states she is in a happier stage of her life and may now even consider turning back to acting as a way of healing her past. I’m Glad My Mom Died forces readers to confront the reality of what fame can mean for a young star as well as make society question the ethicalities in child stardom as a whole: Should there be more protections in place?

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Hi my name is Angela! I'm currently a Second Year at FSU and some things I do in my free time are read, run, and listen to music!