‘Desperate Housewives’ Child Star Says She Developed an Eating Disorder After Cyberbullying

Madison De La Garza
John Sciulli/Getty Images for CBS Films

Madison De La Garza details battle with an eating disorder at 7 years old after cyberbullying.

Madison De La Garza, well-known as the child star from later seasons of ABC's Desperate Housewives, opened up this week about her battle with an eating disorder sparked by cyberbullying following the show. 

"They said things like they wanted me to die because of what I looked like," De La Garza told Heart of the Matter podcast host Elizabeth Vargas this week. While speaking about her experience with online attacks, the actress shared memories of sneaking onto the computer to find comments about herself. 

"It was just horrible, like, 'ugly fat cow,' and 'I hope you get cancer and die because you're so fat," De La Garza recalled.

De La Garza played Juanita Solis, the daughter of Eva Longoria's Gabrielle Solis, on the show. She took on the role in season 5, after the series jumped five years ahead. De La Garza was just 6 years old at the time of her casting, and she stayed in the role for the rest of the show's remaining three seasons. 

"Just horrible, horrible, horrible things and this was when I was 6, 7, 8 years old," she said. 

De La Garza also pointed out that her weight was often the punchline of jokes made on Desperate Housewives. "This was talked about literally in the script of the show," she said said. "The whole joke of my character was that Eva was this thin beautiful model and her daughter turned out to be quite the opposite." 

Offscreen, though, De La Garza added that Longoria did her best to counteract the bullying, saying the actress "went out of her way to make me feel special." 

Nevertheless, the effects took De La Garza years to process, she said. "Reading comments like that definitely affected my mental health and ultimately played into me developing an eating disorder at a very young age…my first memories of trying to starve myself, I was 7 years old." 

Today, De La Garza is eight months sober and two years into recovery from her eating disorder. She added that she's received support from her half-sister, Demi Lovato, for helping her with addiction. The sisters, who are related through their mother, are nine years apart in age.