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Wentworth Miller responds to fat-shaming meme, reveals he was suicidal
The ‘Prison Break’ star wrote candidly about his experience.
Wentworth Miller is best known as the star of the late aughts drama Prison Break. Seven years after the show’s demise, a meme using photos of the actor has prompted him to speak about something even more dramatic than his TV work: suicide.
A set of two photos of Miller was posted on the Facebook page of the LAD Bible, a comedy and entertainment website, on Monday. The first photo shows Miller in peak physical form during his Prison Break days, while the second shows him in 2010 after gaining some weight. They were presented together to poke fun at his apparent weight gain.
Once Miller caught wind of it, he decided to respond publicly with a brave confession: His weight gain was due to suicidal thoughts. He’s spoken a bit about this struggle before, he writes, but never to such a large audience.
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.
He writes that the photo used by LAD Bible was snapped during a hike with a friend in 2010, and headlines like “Hunk to Chunk” mocked his extra pounds. “[F]ighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed,” he wrote.
When he dropped the weight a few months later, even Perez Hilton, who wrote on his site that Miller looked good a few pounds heavier, wrote: “The last time we saw photos of Wentworth Miller, it looked as though he had traded in a slim waistline and a decent hair cut for a few extra cartons of Ben & Jerry’s.”
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.
After Miller’s emotional response, the typically snark LAD Bible posted an earnest apology post. In a message from the whole team, the staff wrote: “Mental health is no joke or laughing matter,” and that they “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.”
They applauded his “raw honesty” and “promise to now cover such matters in the responsible manner that our audience expects.” They also provided links to various mental health resources, like the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Trevor Project.
A reminder that behind many memes are actual humans with real emotions, if ever there was one.
Screengrab via Prison Break Revival/YouTube
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.