Right now, there’s a huge movement going on to promote inclusiveness and body positivity among women. Actresses such as Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham have been very outspoken about the unfair pressure actresses face in the industry. This pressure, of course, is echoed through the halls of virtually every high school and workplace in America. Whether it’s postpartum weight loss, the celebration of different body types or the common struggles of humans trying to maintain a healthy weight, more and more people are speaking out against the unrealistic expectations that have been placed on women… but what about men?
There was a time when Wentworth Miller was on millions of television screens across the country on a weekly basis. Fox had an almost instant hit with Prison Break and he was a big reason for the show’s success. Today, he’s a little older and, perhaps, a little wiser due to some personal struggles brought on by a rarely discussed issue – male body shaming.
To be clear, the criticism women face does seem to be a bit more widespread but that does not negate or minimize what men experience. In a recent open letter, the current star of Legends of Tomorrow shared what it was like to deal with fan backlash after he put on a few pounds. On his official Facebook page, he shared a meme that features an old picture from his leaner days alongside an image of him at his heaviest. The caption reads: “When you break out of prison and find out about McDonald’s monopoly …”
His written response to this was eye-opening and sobering. He wrote: “In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I was suicidal… 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.”
The actor, who also said that he’s battled depression since childhood, is not alone. Many people turn to food as a source of comfort during hard times. In fact, most of us should be able to relate to what he was going through.
While Miller was trying to stay away from the public, a chance encounter changed everything. He explained: “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.”
Fortunately, the actor turned the hurtful moment into something positive. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
That is an absolutely fabulous way to look at the situation. Rather than become a victim of the circumstances, Miller chose to focus on the fact that he is a survivor.
In addition to bringing attention to this important issue in society that men also face, Wentworth Miller closed with the following message: “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.”
He’s right! Don’t suffer in silence alone. If, however, you don’t feel like there’s anyone in your life that you can speak to, you can always speak to someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.