Why we’re covering this: Considering the rampant fat-shaming in the gay community, we’re vehemently anti-body-shaming and also sick of beauty standards that favor cis, White muscularity. We also think it’s important to highlight depression issues to alleviate shame around it.
The Lad Bible, a popular dude-bro site that posts funny pictures and videos, apologized to openly gay actor Wentworth Miller for posting an 2010 image of Miller mocking his weight (image below). Miller responded that the photo came from a point in his life when he was suicidal. In response, The Lad Bible deleted the post and apologized, saying “Mental health is no joke or laughing matter. We certainly didn’t want to cause you pain by reminding you of such a low point in your life.”
Miller mentioned that the photo was taken after the conclusion of his lead role in the TV drama Prison Break After seeing the post, Miller posted the following message on his Facebook page:
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.
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
In 2013, Miller spoke about his lifelong battle with depression and his suspicion of the exclusionary gay community to the politically impotent Human Rights Campaign. Though he didn’t go into his weight gain in his 2013 speech, his shame and depression are understandable considering that one-third of all gay men have experienced fat-shaming from other gay men.
In his 2013 speech, Miller talked about how he’d basically given up acting around 2011. In a September 2015 Facebook post about his depression and eating issues, Miller wrote:
Over the years, on a handful of dark days, I would determine that my final meal would be my favorite and when it was finished, I would exit this earth. Because I couldn’t imagine feeling better. Because I couldn’t imagine a different, vastly improved state of existence…
That was another tool in Depression’s toolbelt: the limits of what I could and could not imagine.
The man I was then couldn’t have pictured the man I am now, moving (more) consciously and (more) thoughtfully through the world, (more) alert to the people, habits, and belief systems that invite peace and purpose into my life on a daily basis. A man departing (escaping) Los Angeles with a plateful of things to look forward to.
The man I was then wouldn’t have believed any of this was possible. But it was. Is.
Since the 2010 photo above, Miller has gone on to screenwrite the 2013 psychological horror film Stoker and to star in the recurring cast of the superhero TV show, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow.
After reading Miller’s response to their photo, The Lad Bible responded with the following apology:
We posted two pictures of you last night to our Facebook page, but today we want to say we’ve got this very, very wrong. Mental health is no joke or laughing matter.
We certainly didn’t want to cause you pain by reminding you of such a low point in your life. Causing distress and upset to innocent or vulnerable people is simply not acceptable.
TheLADbible continues to cover how prevalent mental health issues are among our audience, as well as the damaging stigma that surrounds such matters.
We applaud your raw honesty and promise to now cover such matters in the responsible manner that our audience expects.
Responding head-on to our post is something we applaud as it will help others through similar challenges in their lives.
Once again, we got this very wrong, and we wanted to say sorry.