Juanita Solis, Desperate Housewives
Credit: Disney General Entertainment Con

It’s been more than a decade since Madison De La Garza last played Juanita on Desperate Housewives, and a lot has changed in that time.

Desperate Housewives was ABC’s drama following a group of women who lived on the fictional street of Wisteria Lane. De La Garza played Juanita Solis — the adoptive daughter of Carlo (Ricardo Chavira) and Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) — from Seasons 4 to 8 of Desperate Housewives. Juanita was the biological daughter of Hector and Carmen Sanchez and was switched at birth with Grace Sanchez (Carlos and Gabrielle’s biological daughter) by nurse Teresa Pruitt.

So where is De La Garza now? Read on for what’s happened since she played Juanita on Desperate Housewives and how starring in the show at six years old affected her then and now.

Who played Juanita on Desperate Housewives?

Juanita Solis, Desperate Housewives

Who played Juanita on Desperate Housewives? Madison De La Garza was six years old when she made her debut as Juanita Solis on Desperate Housewives. In an interview the Heart of the Matter podcast in April 2023, De La Garza, who is now 21, revealed that online criticism over her appearance at the time led to an eating disorder at a young age. “The reactions I got to my character on Desperate Housewives were shocking,” she said. “A lot of people came at it in a way that they were ‘concerned ‘ for my health. I personally believe that that’s just not true. That was a coverup so they could just judge a six year old.”

De La Garza told the podcast that, while she wasn’t allowed to use the internet without supervision, she would secretly visit websites like TMZ and YouTube where she would spend “hours” reading “atrocious” comments about herself. “I was never allowed to be on a computer unsupervised at that age, but kids are very intelligent, especially my generation,” she said. “We know how to get on a computer when no one is looking or when your parents are asleep or taking a nap or cooking dinner. We can get on the computer if we want.”

She continued, “I would spend hours and hours reading comments online and the comments section of YouTube videos and comments on TMZ and I remember this website Ocean Up was a huge, huge thing and I would just spend a crazy amount of time reading through these comments. Most all of them were atrocious.”

As for what she read, De La Garza told the podcast that she would often see words like “ugly” and “fat” in comments to describe herself. “They said things like they wanted me to die because of what I looked like. It was horrible. ‘Ugly fat cow. I hope you get cancer and die because you’re so fat.’ Horrible, horrible, horrible things,” she said. “This is when I was six, seven, eight years old. I like to say that things are different now. I like to say that things have gotten a little better.”

She continued, “I worry sometimes that maybe things are a little less anonymous now, which is why people aren’t risking saying those things as much anymore. I don’t know if people are becoming more compassionate or if they don’t want to get caught. I’m not quite sure. Reading comments like that definitely affected my mental health and ultimately played into me developing an eating disorder at a very young age.”

She confirmed that the comments were what contributed to her eating disorder, which started when she was seven years old. “My first memories of trying to starve myself was at seven years old. A lot of it came from reading those comments and my family had no idea that this was going on,” she said. “My mom had no idea that I was seeing these things, that I was reading these things because I was very, very sneaky about it. I don’t blame her at all. It was literally impossible to stop me from seeing those things, and I was also very good at hiding and throwing away meals and saying that I ate them.”

She continued, “A lot of this happened while I was at school, so there was no way for my parents to know that I was restricting. It changed in different ways. I would enter eating disorder recovery and be fine for a couple years, and then it would come back. I would starve myself and then go into months of struggling with a binge eating disorder.”

As for where she is now with her eating disorder, De La Garza told the podcast that she’s healthy and two years into her recovery. “It’s definitely morphed and changed and gone back and forth,” she said. “Right now, I would like to say I’m two years into recovery and things are going really, really well, which is great to be able to say that. I don’t think it’s something that will ever be completely gone or it will ever be completely fixed. I think it’s the same as having an addiction.” She continued, “It never completely goes away. It’s something you have to continue to work on for the rest of your life. It will get easier, of course, but it will always be there.”

De La Garza also confirmed that no one in the cast or crew of Desperate Housewives ever talked about the comments explicitly with her, but she had the feeling that most people on the show, especially the wardrobe department, knew about the criticism.

“I think if they did, they never came out and said anything to me. They would go out of their way to tell me I was beautiful or tell me I looked really pretty that day or that outfit looked really cute on me and things like that,” she said. “The wardrobe department on the show was very aware of making me feel comfortable. I was able to speak up and say, ‘Hey, I don’t like the way I feel in these clothes. I feel very uncomfortable.'”

She continued, “At one point, they let me bring in my own jeans because I kept telling them, ‘The way these jeans fit, the texture, the fabric, it’s really bothering me. I can’t focus on my lines.’ They would let me bring in my own clothes to wear so I would feel more comfortable. I think they may have had some of what was going on because they definitely made it a priority for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, which I really appreciated it.”

De La Garza also confirmed that she never spoke about the criticism with Eva Longoria, who played Juanita’s mother, Gabrielle Solis, though she also had the feeling that Longoria knew about the comments based on how much of Juanita’s storyline consisted of comparisons between her and her mother. “We never spoke about it. I think she knew from the content of the show,” De La Garza said. “There was one episode where I went to school with a bunch of makeup on because girls in my class said I wasn’t pretty enough to be her daughter.”

She continued, “This was talked about literally in the script of the show. The whole joke with my character was that Eva was this thin, beautiful model and her daughter turned out to be quite the opposite. I think she was very aware this was going to affect me. We never explicitly talked about it. But she definitely went out of her way to make me feel like I was pretty and like I was special. She made me feel like I was family. If I ever did want to go to her with these things, I definitely could have.”

De La Garza also explained why she never went to anyone on Desperate Housewives about the comments. “I felt so ashamed that these comments were being written,” she said. “I didn’t even want to talk about it. On the off chance, they didn’t see the comments, I didn’t want to be the one to bring it up.” She continued, “It’s different now. I have learned to talk about it. I think it’s incredibly important to know how bad cyberbullying can be and the unthinkable is happening today. I think it’s important people are aware of that so they can look out for it and protect this next generation of children.”

Since Desperate Housewives, De La Garza has starred on Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie, CBS’ Bad Teacher and ABC’s American KoKo. She’s also had roles in movies like Gnome Alone and Subject 16.

Desperate Housewives is available to stream on Hulu.

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