During a recent episode of Elizabeth Vargas’ Heart of the Matter podcast, Madison De La Garza explained how cyberbullying stemming from her role on Desperate Housewives led to mental health issues and other problems growing up.
On the popular ABC series, De La Garza, who is the younger half-sister of singer Demi Lovato, played Juanita Solis, the daughter of Eva Longoria’s character, Gaby Solis. De La Garza made her debut on Desperate Housewives during its fifth season in 2008 when she was 6 years old.
De La Garza said that during her four seasons on the series, she saw “horrible” and “atrocious” comments that were made about her on gossip websites, something her parents didn’t know she was reading.
“The reactions that I got to my character on Desperate Housewives … it was just shocking,” she said.
De La Garza said the comments “definitely affected my mental health” and led to her “developing an eating disorder at a very young age.” She remembers “trying to starve” herself when she was only 7.
“They said things like they wanted me to die because of what I looked [like],” she said. “It was just horrible, like, ‘ugly fat cow,’ and ‘I hope you get cancer and die because you’re so fat.’”
On the set of Desperate Housewives, De La Garza kept the emotional pain she was experiencing to herself. She said Longoria, her TV mom, “definitely went out of her way to make me feel like I was pretty and like I was special” but De La Garza never talked to her about the things she was reading about herself online because she “felt so ashamed.”
“I think it’s incredibly important for people to know how bad cyberbullying can be, and just how the unthinkable is actually happening today,” De La Garza said. “I think it’s really important that people are aware of that so they can look out for it and protect this next generation of children.”