How Jonah Hill Shut Down Tabloids, Taking Control Of His Own Narrative And Becoming A Body Positive Icon
Last week, the Daily Mail newspaper published an article filled with photographs of Jonah Hill surfing both in his wetsuit and completely shirtless, pointing out elements of his body. The “Superbad” and “21 Jump Street” actor often plays characters whose weight is at the heart of the jokes, and his weight seems to always be a topic of discussion in real life, too.
Hill did not take the content from the tabloid lightly, considering his own childhood insecurities about his body that is a universal struggle for many kids around the world. He took to Instagram to take control of his own narrative, and his response strategy was a massive PR success.
How Did Jonah Hill Respond to the Daily Mail?
Hill posted a screenshot of the Daily Mail article on his Instagram account, and captioned it with a heartfelt message opening up about his childhood insecurities surrounding his weight, and discussing the way growing up in the public eye throughout his early acting career contributed to his negative perception of his own body.
“I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30s even in front of family and friends. Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers,” he wrote.
Hill then continued by celebrating self-love and the realization that his love and acceptance for himself can no longer be disturbed by others. He spoke directly to the younger generation, who notoriously struggles with their self-image in the world of social media, sending love and support to kids who experience what he had growing up.
“…the idea that the media tries to play me by stalking me while surfing and printing photos like this and it can’t phase me anymore is dope. I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself. This isn’t a “good for me” post. And it’s definitely not a “feel bad for me post”. It’s 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,” he continued.
And in iconic Jonah Hill fashion, he ended his commentary with a lighthearted stab at the tabloid, saying, “Oh and Daily Mail, not even you can take that smile from my face ;).”
How Did People React To His Post?
Hill’s post garnered support from fans and celebrities alike, his comment sectioned filled with admiration for his honest response and followers sharing their own stories.
One fan wrote, “…I’m happy knowing someone who I looked up [to] struggled with what I went through and came out on top.”
Film director Judd Apatow commented, “When I take my shirt off at the beach it looks like I am still wearing a shirt…or a sweater. Now I will show it off with pride!”
The reaction to Hill’s post was phenomenal, driving massive engagement to his account, with over 1.7 million likes and over forty-four thousand comments that were almost exclusively positive. The response to his strategy solidified him as a body positive icon, and a role model in Hollywood.
What Can We Learn From Jonah Hill’s Response Strategy?
Hill gave us all a lesson in honesty, confidence, transparency and communication with his well-crafted response to negative press attention. By understanding his audience of younger generations and providing honesty and relatability he was able to take control of the media and transform his narrative into what he wanted. Additionally, he crafted a positive image of himself by empowering the youth and being authentically himself, elevating his position in the public eye.
By getting out in front of negative publicity and addressing it honestly with your core values at the forefront, PR professionals and industry leaders can take a page out of his playbook of taking control of your own narrative.
Lauryn Bayley is a public relations and content development intern at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency representing financial and professional services brands nationwide. To learn more about Flackable, please visit flackable.com. Follow Lauryn on Twitter at @LaurynBayleyPR.