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What happens when one of Hollywood’s funniest men decides to speak up about his long-standing insecurities regarding his weight?

Jonah Hill has been cinema’s go-to funnyman for well over fifteen years, but there’s one subject he’s not willing to laugh about. 

Over the years, the 37-year-old has established a reputation as an immensely charming, sharp-witted, and self-deprecating comedian. You can always count on him for a well-crafted, cleverly delivered wisecrack, no matter how inappropriate or out-of-bounds it may seem. One might think he’s more than happy to joke about his weight; after all, that’s what everyone expects from a funny, overweight persona in the industry. The mentality seems to be: humiliate yourself before anyone else can. 

In reality, Jonah Hill’s had enough. The Maniac actor has gotten more and more forthcoming about the struggles he’s faced, both publicly and privately, as a result of the discourse over his appearance. It doesn’t matter he’s a seasoned actor who’s spent nearly twenty years in the limelight, it doesn’t matter if he’s poked fun at his size before, it doesn’t matter if it offends audiences and erodes his standing as a comic. If something bothers you, you have every right to speak up for yourself. 

And that’s exactly what Jonah Hill did. 

He’s faced “childhood securities” for a long time, but at 37, he’s finally ready to accept himself

On October 13, Jonah Hill asked his followers on Instagram to not “comment” on his body going forward. “Good or bad I want to politely let you know it’s not helpful and doesn’t feel good. Much respect,” he said. He said he understands that many of his supporters “mean well,” but any discussion over his figure doesn’t do any favors for his mental health. 

The post received resounding praise from numerous celebrities and social media users across the board. It’s not every day a famous male comedian expresses vulnerabilities about his size. However, it’s critical to keep in mind that it’s not the first time Jonah has detailed his predicament. In response to a DailyMail article where he was photographed in a wetsuit surfing on the beach, Jonah revealed he’s suffered from “childhood insecurities” about his body for as long as he could remember. 

I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself […] For the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect. All my love.

Jonah Hill

The Oscar-nominated actor said he didn’t take his shirt off at the pool until he was in his mid-thirties, even when he was around loved ones. “Years of public mockery about [his] body by press and interviewers” only compounded his shame, and he didn’t think he ever could accept his true self. Yet, as he writes the post, he couldn’t be prouder. “I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself,” he said. 

The Superbad star said he’s not trying to garner sympathy for his situation. He’s not trying to boast about his newfound confidence, either. He just wanted to convey his love and support to the youth who are facing the same ordeal he did; kids who are afraid to bare their bodies in fear of ridicule; kids who can’t look themselves in the mirror because they loathe themselves so much; kids who just need a little bit of kindness in their lives to improve their self-esteem. “You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect,” he told them in his post. 

Lastly, he declared that disparaging articles by tabloids don’t faze him anymore. He’s evolved plenty in the last couple of years, and he won’t let anyone rain on his parade. “Daily Mail, not even you can take that smile from my face,” he said, concluding his statement. 

Here’s why his admission matters

Jonah Hill’s heartfelt honestly represents a watershed moment for body positivity among men. The movement has largely centered around women so far, but the consequences of body-shaming are as severe for men as they are for women. Men, too, have to work to the bone to meet the impossible aesthetical standards our society is dominated by. Male actors, specifically, have to endure these pressures in the public eye, and most of them can’t help but succumb to them. They either undergo dramatic fitness transformations to get their frame to look a certain way, or they get around the stigma by just poking fun at their own bodies. Just look at Zach Galifianakis or Jack Black. 

I think everybody has a version of themselves ― I call it a snapshot ― at some point in life… [you’re] trying to hide from the world […] For me, it’s definitely being like this 14-year-old kid, being overweight, wanting to fit in with these skaters and hip-hop kids, and just feeling lonely and maybe not understanding my own worth.

Jonah Hill on The Ellen Degeneres Show

Jonah Hill, on the other hand, wants to address his anxiety head-on. In a candid interview with Ellen, Jonah disclosed he was called “fat, gross, and unattractive” as a teenager. That’s why he’d developed a habit of hiding himself from the world, whether it was through his humor or his occasional coldness. This unease doesn’t end when you’ve older, more successful, or good-looking; it’s perpetual in many ways, so you’re going to have to get used to the discomfort. 

Not comprehending his “own worth” led to a great deal of loneliness and self-doubt, which continued through his teens, twenties, and the majority of his thirties. Only when he started working on his directorial debut Mid90s did he begin to examine some of his deep-rooted difficulties regarding his weight. He finally started to “understand how much that hurt and got into [his] head,” he told Ellen. 

It took a long time, but he did reach a place of peace and pride. His journey demonstrates that everyone can suffer from crippling insecurities at any age, and it will be a continuous dilemma you will simply have to navigate as you go on. Jonah Hill’s growth as an individual is also remarkable in that he’s usually known as the comic relief, the guy who doesn’t mind a gag or two at his expense. For him to be so open about his vulnerabilities has made him an icon of sorts in the body positivity conversation. 

It’s never too late to stand up for yourself

Nobody can dare take your voice away. It doesn’t matter who you are; you should always have the freedom to speak your truth and demand the respect you deserve. No one should have the power to make you feel inferior or any less worthy of love. If Jonah Hill can find self-love and acceptance in his late thirties, nothing is stopping you. Just keep believing in yourself, and trust that the worst days will pass. Someday, you’ll look back and wonder why you ever felt so down about yourself. The truth is everyone comes to their realization in their own time. As Jonah Hill says, “You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect.”

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