Proud2Bme | Wentworth Miller’s Honesty About Body Image is Refreshing

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Wentworth Miller’s Honesty About Body Image is Refreshing

By River Zain Ceballos--If you're familiar with actor Wentworth Miller, you probably know him as the hunk from the hit TV show Prison Break that aired from 2005-2009. Miller's character was the strong-minded brother who knew that he had what it took to break his sibling out of prison. Miller's character was also covered head to toe in tattoos, and in a lot of episodes, he filmed shirtless. He admits that the confidence he emanated all came from his character, not him.

It's the norm to see side-by-side photos of celebrities. The "good" and the "bad" ones, the "before" and "afters," etc. It’s what sells magazines. But when you see these photos that show celebrities in a less-than-flattering light, have you ever stopped to think, "How was the celebrity feeling that day?" or "What was going on in their personal life that day?" Truth is, probably not.

A couple of years ago, paparazzi took and sold a photo of Wentworth in the middle of a hiatus from acting. He was taking a walk in the park and he looked a few pounds heavier than he did on Prison Break, but still completely healthy. The media had a field day with the photos.

Body-shamers came from all sides, bashing the young actor, and the photos were fodder for countless headlines poking fun at his new appearance. Fans and critics alike wondered why he had let himself go; apparently, his new look was a far cry from his Prison Break physique. Unlike other celebrities who have responded to unflattering photos by brushing them off, saying the images don't affect them or lying about the picture being Photoshopped, Miller decided to surprise everyone and get completely candid.

He told the truth. I couldn't be more proud of Miller for his bravery. He put a public face on a very private struggle, which is body image issues in men. Miller said that his weight gain was caused by depression and anxiety that left him suicidal. He has always suffered with these mental health issues, but they were amplified by being in the public eye.

He's shed light on the dark side of mental health issues. Miller wrote that when he first saw the photos and internet memes, "it hurt to breathe." I can only imagine how I would've reacted to something like that at the height of my eating disorder. To have the world poke fun and laugh at someone who was already so vulnerable and fighting so many demons is heartbreaking. Since Miller’s story broke, it’s been such a big thing in the media for various reasons. The main one? No one fails to respond to trials, tribulations and LOVE. Someone, in some way, can identify with Wentworth.

You can't help but respect his openness. His struggle is so private and personal, but it’s not uncommon. Most people don't talk about it because they are ashamed or they believe that no one will be able to relate. Like I've always said, depression, self-harm, eating disorders and body insecurities don't discriminate; they are human problems. There is no rulebook on how to deal with depression and anxiety. Every person is different and every person deals with it differently. Food happened to be how Wentworth dealt with his depression at the time and I can completely identify with that.

When I was younger and feeling stressed, I turned to food—because it was always there. What saved my life, and the reason that I am able to write this story today, was swallowing my pride, speaking up and getting the help I needed. It really took me taking a step back and forgetting everything I THOUGHT I knew about eating disorders and body image issues and learning the truth. I threw my preconceived notions about mental illness out the window.

Society has a way of making us feel like we should fit a certain mold—and if we don't, they can and will make it known. Miller is a prime example of this, but instead of staying silent, he told his story and lives his truth—and I hope it has a ripple effect.

"I put on weight. Big f--king deal. Long story short, I survived. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face [referring to the 'unflattering' image] I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist." -Wentworth Miller

About the blogger: River Zain Ceballos is a spokesperson, print model, actor, and activist. Follow him on Twitter @RiverC_Official.

Also by River Zain: 

Where are the Plus-Size Male Models?

Breaking the Perfection Mold

I Have a Voice and I Intend to Use It

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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