Every woman has felt, at sometime or another, that her body is just not good enough. It seems like our bodies are always in the public eye, being sexualized and compared to images that have been photoshopped and Facetuned. There is no way to meet these standards. Unrealistic ideas begin to creep into women’s minds, and a negative body image starts to form. In contrast to this, rising star Jameela Jamil is promoting body positivity. The Good Place actress fully knows negative experiences from these fanatical expectations, and is using her platform to encourage self-love.
“We have to be thin, but with big breasts and bottoms, gravity free, spotless, hairless, ageless, light skinned but always with a year round sun kissed glow; we must be fun and eat pizza and drink beer but also completely cellulite free…. NO. I’m sorry but at some point something has to give. We have to object. We have to do it together.”Jameela Jamil on the double standard women face in beauty.
She is no stranger when it comes to speaking out for women who have been discriminated against because of their body type. Her passion to help women comes from her unique backstory. Jamil was born partially deaf, and at 17 was bedridden due to a car accident. She has also shared that she suffered from celiac disease, mercury poisoning, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and eczema. She was often made fun of by her peers because of these differences, leading to teenage anorexia. This trauma stayed with her, even lead to a s**cide attempt in her twenties. But thankfully she survived, which she described as “the most extraordinary gift,” and pursued therapy and activism as proper treatment to her trauma.
After a successful run in modeling journalism, Jamil landed a gig as a BBC Radio DJ, but she faced public scrutiny because of weight gain she experienced due to asthma medication. This sparked her to create a blog called “Diary of a Goon” where she spoke up against the body image criticism she and other women constantly faced. This was a frank, honest, independent publication where she first expressed herself completely. And in 2015, she launched a project called Why Not People?, which was a membership service prioritizing in providing entertainment events for disabled people. Considering Jamil’s own experiences with disabilities, it’s no wonder she’d fight for a more egalitarian entertainment industry.
In 2018 Jamil spearheaded a social media body positive campaign known as “I Weigh.” Inspired by an insulting photo of the Kardashians showing off (and certainly lying about) small weights, Jamil was outraged and wanted representation for the truth in women’s sizes. This campaign celebrates radical inclusivity. Women are encouraged to send in photos of themselves celebrating their body, and all of its beauty. She hired six female employees to take her campaign to a corporate level, and has even gained the attention of The Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle. This campaign spawned a podcast of the same name, where Jamil discusses politics and mental health with many guests, including Margaret Cho and Reese Witherspoon. The series has been well received, with a solid 5.0 on Apple Podcasts, and over a million Instagram followers.
“The pictures were amazing. None of them were posed and filtered, nobody was contoured to within an inch of their life, or sucking anything in. It was women living their lives, writing down all of the things they were grateful for and proud of.”
Being a Role Model
Even though Jamil is a role model for many, she admits that she is not perfect. In 2013 she spoke negatively of entertainers like Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé, for rather conservative and unfounded reasons like vulgarity. But, Jamil admits that she has made mistakes. As a young woman she was angry, but did not know where the source of her anger came from. Now whenever she speaks out at another celebrity, it’s for her body-positive narrative. For instance, she disapproves of the Kardashians and Cardi B promoting diet suppressants, or of Cupcakke posting that she’s practicing a water fast. Considering how as a teen she took after such unhealthy celebrity-endorsed trends, and it only gave her an eating disorder, she has a right to call out that toxic culture.
She’s also strongly against photoshop and other body-altering practices in modeling. When Kim Kardashian alters her images on a computer, and applies skin foundation to cover up her psoriasis, Jamil views that as a lie to the viewer. Instead of masking up bodily imperfections and differences, they should be embraced, as they are what make each of beautiful.
As a professional model herself, she actively refuses any of these alterations. When you book Jamil, you’re going to get Jamil, nothing more or less. To the point to when she was interviewed for the infamous publication Playboy, she decided to dress in a suit, and have the shoot go as they would for any of their male guests. Her choices may be outside the norm for famous models, but she doesn’t care. She’d rather live her authentic life, and encourage her fans to do the same.
Jamil is now bigger than ever. After years of playing socialite Tahani Al-Jamil on the hit sitcom The Good Place, countless fans find themselves pleasantly surprised to see how active and thoughtful she is. She has also come out as queer, after being cast as a judge on the voguing competition series Legendary. There’s no telling where her career will go next, but we can all hope for more of her in the future, as her honesty and authenticity is often so rare in Hollywood’s biggest stars.
That is why Jameela Jamil is promoting body positivity and why her work is so influential. She is prompting women everywhere to take control of how they feel about their bodies. And do not let others dictate how they should love themselves. Every woman is different and those differences should be respected, and even more important, celebrated.
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