The 33 year old British actress and activist Jameela Jamil was spotted in New York, promoting her body-positive ‘iWeigh’ campaign, a movement celebrating people’s quantified achievements rather than focusing on their numerical weight, and ‘The Misery Index’, an upcoming TV gameshow series she is hosting under the TBS network, premiering October 22nd 2019.
Jameela has been cast in the limelight this year after using her platform to condemn dietary body-shaming advertisements and the celebrities encouraging them. In a recent interview with BBC News, Jamil shares “I find it just very strange that we’re in a time where now celebrities just have carte blanche to sell whatever they want, however they want, to young impressionable people. There’s no regulations, there are no legal implications to what they’re doing, they’re selling toxic products, that often are laxatives, not declaring that they’re laxatives.”
The inspiration behind the ‘I Weigh’ movement came from an Instagram cult account with a large following that posted a picture of the Kardashians against a breakdown of how much each one weighs. Looking back at it, Jamil shared “I just thought – why do we care so much about this? When women have come so far in life why are we still being told to care about this? I’m hearing about eight-year-olds worried about their bodies and their thighs, and their thigh gaps. It’s just out of control. At least before it used to just be celebrities, but now it’s people trolling each other on Instagram, or glamorising being anorexic”. Jameela has since perpetuated a global anti-shame movement, encouraging women to adopt a healthy mindset when it comes to their ‘weight’, starting a trend advocating for people to list their achievements and post positive messages unrelated to their appearance.
Since the movements conception, Jameela has founded an instagram community page for the campaign. “I Weigh is about radical inclusivity, so that no one feels alone. Our job is to amplify, advocate and pass the mic.” Jameela is set on inspiring women not to focus so much on the way they look, telling Newsbeat “Every minute we spend thinking about how thin and gorgeous and perfect we aren’t, is a moment that we aren’t thinking about growing our business or our education, or our family or the fun in our lives”.
The Good Place star sparked a big row over the internet when she explicitly called out the Kardashians for the products, such as appetite suppressants and slimming teas that they were known to promote then. Jamil condemned Kim for her ‘diet lollipop’ post, and Khloe for her Flat Tummy shakes and teas. Jameela slammed the two for their ‘toxic’ influence, leaving a highly critical comment on Khloe’s sponsored Flat Tummy ad, writing “If you’re too irresponsible to: a) own up to the fact that you have a personal trainer, nutritionist, probable chef, and a surgeon to achieve your aesthetic, rather than this laxative product…And b) tell them the side effects of this NON-FDA approved product, that most doctors are saying aren’t healthy […] then I guess I have to.” She went on to say “It’s incredibly awful that this industry bullied you until you became this fixated on your appearance. That’s the media’s fault. But now please don’t put that back into the world, and hurt other girls, the way you would have been hurt. You’re a smart woman. Be smarter than this.” Earlier in the year, Jameela also came for Khloe’s IG story captioned “2 Things A Girl Wants: 1) Lose Weight, 2) Eat”, Jamil took to her Twitter to say “I hope my daughter grows up wanting more than this. I want more than this. Sending love to this poor woman. This industry did this to her. The media did it to her. They fat shamed her into a prison of self critique. Dear girls, WANT MORE THAN THIS.”
Kim responded to the backlash saying “If there is work that is really easy that doesn’t take away from our kids, that’s like a huge priority. If someone was faced with the same job opportunities, I think they would maybe consider”, to which Jamil aptly replied “Essentially, “f**k the young, impressionable people..we want the money.” I have been given these same opportunities to flog this stuff, and I don’t do it, so they don’t have to. Thank you, next.👎 ”
The actress-turned-activist spoke on her “Trojan horse” technique and how it landed her where she is today, at the centre of the public’s attention for the better, as she doesn’t shy away from strategic shock culture. She traces her “body positivity warrior” stance back to her broadcasting days where she hosted the Official Chart Show on Radio 1, “I’d gained 200,000 listeners which was great, and the papers on that day – instead of reporting that – reported that I’d gained two dress sizes and had loads of photographs fat shaming me and ridiculing my body,” she says.
Jameela and other body positivity campaigners have made a real impact since instagram has now clamped down on diet and cosmetic surgery posts, rolling out new rules and revised community guidelines concerning weight loss products and cosmetic surgery. Related posts will now be hidden from under-18s, and those promoting “miraculous” weight loss products will be removed. Jamil said this was a “huge win” in the collective battle against the diet and detox industry.
She is outspoken and unafraid to speak her mind. In her recent interview with BBC, when asked if it was “necessary to use such extreme language” such as her claim that “The Kardashians pockets are lined with the blood and diarrhoea of teenage girls” Jameela replied “I wouldn’t be here right now sitting opposite you or speaking at the UN or any of these things if I hadn’t made a big noise, and sometimes you have to use shock culture when a woman, and a woman of colour speaks out, because we are the ones most under pressure to be obedient.. I was genuinely angry, it wasn’t just a shock tactic, I was furious and it poured out. I don’t tend to have a filter because I think that that’s something that is only really reserved for women.”
She also blatantly accused the Kardashians of being “double agents for the patriarchy”. She elaborated her stance on UK’s Change The World podcast, saying “You’re selling us an ideal, a body shape, a problem with our wrinkles, a problem with aging, a problem with gravity, a problem with any kind of body fat. You’re selling us self-consciousness. The same poison that made you clearly develop some sort of body dysmorphia or facial dysmorphia, you are now pouring back into the world. You’re, like, recycling hatred.” Khloe has since removed some of her controversial spon-con posts.
Jameela also came after cosmetics and fashion line Avon, after posting an ad promoting a cellulite cream, reading “Dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs)”. In response, Jamil tweeted “And yet everyone has dimples on their thighs, I do, you do, and the clowns at @Avon_UK certainly do. Stop shaming women about age, gravity and cellulite. They’re inevitable, completely normal things. To make us fear them and try to ‘fix’ them, is to literally set us up for failure.” The thread went viral on twitter, raking over 10,000 retweets. Avon apologised for the “lighthearted” marketing muddle up and took down the ad.
Jameela’s fight against body-shaming and beauty ideals go beyond the youth as she has also pointed out the sexism in aging expectations for men vs. women. Jameela took to her Twitter to demonstrate this, collating images of celebrities in their 50s including George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, noting “An example of Photoshop being weaponised against women: This is how we portray men in their 50s on magazine covers and women in their 50s. Look at the difference. Men who age are sexy in HD. Women mostly just shouldn’t dare age. Men can celebrate the inevitable, we must fear it.”
‘Body Positivity’ is not all that Jameela and her ‘I Weigh’ movement stands for. Instead, she prefers to call it ‘Body Liberation’ or ‘neutrality’. In an explanation she posted to her Instagram, elaborating that body positivity is mainly for plus-size people who are discriminated against, she emphasised “I constantly get labeled by the media as the ‘face of bopo [body positivity]’ but that’s without my announcing that about myself. In fact, I have been trying to clear that up for over a year,” she said. “At @i_weigh we are trying to focus on the inside not the outside. That’s not to say we don’t support BoPo. We do. It’s just not our lane.”
In a statement addressing Instagram’s revised guidelines, Jameela said “Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online, sends an important message out to the world. I’m thrilled to have been able to work towards this with them, alongside a host of other experts who shed light on the danger of these products.” She went onto say “Instagram were supportive and helpful when I brought them my protests and petitions, they listened, they cared, they moved so efficiently, and communicated with us throughout the process. As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I’ve personally known and suffered the perils of the devious side of the diet/detox industry. A focus of our advocacy since inception, it is a proud day for ‘I Weigh’ and a day of hope for our generation, who deserve respect and protection from the celebrities and influencers that they follow.”
More power to her, let us know your thoughts on Jameela Jamil and what she stands for!