Wentworth Miller Uses A Fat-Shaming Meme To Share An Empowering Message About Depression
Wentworth Miller came to fame as Michael Scofield on Fox’s Prison Break where he wore full upper-body tattoos on his thin, muscular body. The role would earn him a Golden Globe nomination and the adulation of female fans worldwide. What no one knew publicly, until 2013, was that he was gay and, at the age of 15, had attempted suicide. “When someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I said no, because I told no one. You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for,” he told a Human Rights Campaign dinner in 2013.
On Monday, Miller became the subject of a fat-shaming meme that juxtaposed a photo of him during his time on Prison Break with a shot of him from 2010 when he was dealing with depression. The photo was captioned: “When you break out of prison and find out about McDonalds monopoly…”
Initially, Miller was upset by the meme but then he saw it as an opportunity to spread awareness about depression and to find pride in how he’s persevered. “The meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness. Of myself and others,” he wrote alongside the meme on Facebook.
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. #koalas #inneractivist #prisonbroken
Update: This article originally appeared on March 29, 2016.
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