Samira Wiley addressed how unwanted comments about people’s bodies can have a lasting impact, even if someone is comfortable in their own skin.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” actor got candid about an experience that “really affected” her in a People magazine interview published Wednesday — and to make matters worse, it occurred in a professional setting.
“I remember this one so vividly because [I] feel like I have a healthy body image,” the 34-year-old “Orange is the New Black” star said. “And I was on the shoot and one of the outfits they put me in was something that showed a bit of midriff. And honestly, I thought it was fine. But someone on the set was like, ‘Oh, don’t worry. We can fix that in post.’”
Wiley noted to the magazine that she had a pretty good attitude about her body at the time, and the remark “didn’t really put me in a horrible mood” but she couldn’t help but be shaken by its larger implication.
“But this is what I have to deal with?” she asked. “I can’t imagine what all of these young girls who are just looking at these magazines, and their perception is that this is reality and it’s not.”
Wiley is one of several actors who have recently spoken out about how unwanted comments about their bodies can be daunting — even if they comments are meant to be compliments.
Jonah Hill said in October 2021 that praise about his smaller body is “not helpful,” regardless of commenters’ intent.
“I know you mean well but I kindly ask that you not comment on my body,” he said in an Instagram post. “Good or bad I want to politely let you know it’s not helpful and doesn’t feel good. Much respect.”
Lena Dunham — whose body has been a part of public discourse for the entirety of her career — recently gave some perspective on this attitude. The “Girls” star and creator got married to musician Luis Felber on Sept. 25, and photos from her big day were published in a Vogue spread. Soon after it was published, her body was heavily criticized because it had “changed since I was last on television.”
“When will we learn to stop equating thinness with health/happiness?” she wrote on Instagram in October 2021. “Of course weight loss can be the result of positive change in habits, but guess what? So can weight gain.”
She added: “The pics I’m being compared to are from when I was in active addiction with undiagnosed illness.”
Wiley seems to be taking the conversation around body image a step further by producing the upcoming documentary short “The Gratitude Project,” which will feature stories from real people who have used body gratitude to better themselves, inside and out, People reported. The film is slated to premiere in June 2022 at Tribeca Film Festival.