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Legends of Tomorrow‘s Wentworth Miller Talks His History of Depression After Hateful Meme

wentworth miller

After starring on the hit FOX show, Prison Break, actor Wentworth Miller went through severe depression, which is why he kind of disappeared from public life in 2010. He’s since talked about his depression, but late yesterday he was prompted to do so again after seeing a hurtful meme with him as the subject.

He posted the following 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…

Posted by Wentworth Miller on Monday, March 28, 2016

It’s so important, and I’m so grateful, that Miller not only talked about his depression, but made the connection between depression and his eating and weight gain. I am all about body positivity, for loving our bodies no matter their size or ability as an extension of loving ourselves, and for being positive about others’ bodies and not making assumptions about people’s experiences or personalities based on the bodies they’re presenting. All of that is body positivity, and all of that is good.

However, Miller is talking about something very specific and important with regard to some of us who are fat. We turn to food the way others turn to drugs, or alcohol, or sex, or any other form of comfort that in and of itself is harmless, but when done to excess can be damaging. Too often there are two extreme reactions to fat people, especially fat women:

  1. They should love themselves and be who they are! Be fat proudly and fuck the world! And if you don’t love your body, you’re self-hating and harmful to others! Or…
  2. They really need to lose weight! All they need to do is stop eating so damn much and stop being lazy and get off their asses and do some exercise.

 

If people bring up overeating as a symptom of depression at all, it’s often brought up sarcastically or mockingly, ie: Awww. What, are they drowning their feelings in food? Boo hoo. And too often, the focus of “weight loss” efforts are just that – it’s about losing the weight. Sometimes it’s about physical health. What’s it’s rarely about is mental health, and that’s where most of those problems lie.

Listen, I’m not saying that everyone who eats a lot of food has a mental health issue. There are people who just freaking love cupcakes and eat them all day, erry day just because they like them. They love food, they love their fat bodies, and they’re completely unapologetic. To those people I say, Rock on with your bad selves and keep doing you! Similarly, there are people that you see getting drunk at a party, or doing recreational drugs, or sleeping with lots of people who are just living life to the fullest and experiencing as much as they can. They’re having a good time, and their behavior isn’t affecting the rest of their lives negatively. Those people should rock on, too.

But depression is a multi-faceted beast, and one of those facets stares out on the realm of eating disorders, one of which is compulsive overeating. Yet, of all the eating disorders that exist, compulsive overeating even within the field of eating disorder treatment — is taken less seriously than something like anorexia, or bulimia, in large part because we don’t have true body positivity, and so society bombards us with messages that tell us that the thin are more worthy than fat people. So people “understandably” trying to stay skinny are met with more sympathy than those who are making themselves fatter.

It’s frustrating, because many people who overeat — like those who drink, do drugs, or do anything else in excess — are crying for help, and yet they’re seen as incompetent, lazy, and unsympathetic, because their weight is their fault. And so they don’t talk about it and keep suffering in silence. Whenever I’ve brought up these issues in my writing before, there’s always a contingent of people who try to shame me by calling me anti-feminist, or who say I’m just another fat-shamer beholden to societal beauty standards, simply because I bring up the connection between compulsive overeating and depression that some people have.

I’m grateful that Miller’s statement brings his experience with weight gain into the mental health discussion. It would be great if we stopped looking at fat people themselves as problems to be fixed by virtue of their fatness, and instead looked at the issues affecting fat people, treating our minds and hearts with as much “concern” as our bodies and physical health.

(via Uproxx, image via screencap)

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