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Wentworth Miller proves that fat-shaming is as real for men as it is for women

31 March 2016, 11:11 Carmen Williams

Wentworth Miller, the 43-year-old actor and director, recently shared a powerful and thought-provoking message on his Facebook page in response to a rather cruel internet meme doing the rounds after being created by The LAD Bible.

Wentworth says that even though this is not the first time he’s been the subject of a meme this one “stands out from the rest”. The picture that shows him looking heavier than in his Prison Break days was snapped during a period when he was suicidal and struggling with his mental health.

He sought comfort in food to get himself through this tough period and, as a result, gained weight. “Big f--king deal,” he says. I have to agree. Because gaining weight when you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders is human, and no one should be allowed to make you feel like less just because there’s a little more of you going around.

Image: Facebook

The site that posted this meme on their Facebook page has since apologised to Wentworth saying that they “got this very, very wrong. Mental health is no joke or laughing matter.” Neither is fat-shaming.

As someone who has struggled with mental illness and who has loved her fat body for most of her life, I really responded to Wentworth’s heartfelt essay. Not only because I know how hard it is to deal with being depressed and eating to fill the void that is your sadness, but I also know how hard it is to talk about.

According to SADAG (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group), an estimated 20% of the population may suffer from depression at any time during their lives and women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as their male counterparts. Treatment can alleviate symptoms in up to 80% of cases, but these symptoms often go unrecognised, and when we don’t recognise or talk about our pain, it festers and doesn’t get any better. Which means that, very often, depressed people suffer in silence.

So many people turn to things to comfort or distract themselves like Wentworth did with food. But does that mean anyone has the right to be judgey about it? No. Will they judge anyway? Yes. Because being fat is seen as a major disability, especially when you’re famous or a woman or both. We’re constantly told we’re not good enough. The few role models we have are told they’re not good enough. This needs to change, not only for those who gain weight because of an illness or medication, but for those who exist in bigger bodies on an everyday basis.

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