Body shaming & mental health: a male perspective

Actor and director Wentworth Miller recently spoke out about an old internet meme mocking his weight. Originally released in 2010, it was making the rounds again and, this, time, he had some choice words for the online publication responsible for it.

As it turns out, he was dealing with major depression at the time and, like many, was using a variety of coping mechanisms to get through. Once this became known, the “reason” behind his weight gain was suddenly more accepted. And while it’s heartening to see that there is empathy and acceptance for what he was going through – the thing is, it’s NEVER okay to shame someone, female or male, about their body shape and size. It doesn’t matter if they’re depressed, or suicidal, OR in an absolutely fantastic place in their life. There is never an appropriate time to judge or humiliate someone else because of their body. And while Miller handled the situation with grace and eloquence, I’m reminded that there is another level of acceptance we clearly have not reached yet. And it’s not just a women’s issue.

It’s okay if your body changes, whether you’re suffering or not. There doesn’t need to be a reason that makes people backpedal. The statements are inappropriate and unnecessary no matter the state of your mental health. You can endure and persevere and be proud of your body, no matter what.

His post reads in full:

Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.

This one, however, stands out from the rest.

In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I was suicidal.

This is a subject I’ve since written about, spoken about, shared about.

But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few.

Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time.

I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.

In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.

And I put on weight. Big f–king deal.

One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. “Hunk To Chunk.” “Fit To Flab.” Etc.

My mother has one of those “friends” who’s always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.

In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.

Long story short, I survived.

So do those pictures.

I’m glad.

Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.

Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.

Anyway. Still. Despite.

The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.

Of myself and others.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. Much love. – W.M. 

www.afsp.org
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
www.activeminds.org
www.thetrevorproject.org
www.iasp.info

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s