The Bad Feminists

Why We Need To Pay Attention To Jameela Jamil

by Nidhi Pattni

When we scroll through our social media, aside from the cat videos and memes, we see advertisements and sponsored posts all selling an ideal life to us – what we should look like and how to fill the void inside ourselves with beauty and social acceptance. It is almost impossible to escape this bombardment of messages relating to our appearance, constantly telling us that how we are is not enough and we must purchase their ridiculously overpriced products to make sure we conform to their standards of attractiveness. It is easy to fall into the rabbit hole of self-hatred and buy into this messaging that we can be truly happy and confident if we look a bit more like Kim Kardashian, so we purchase the appetite-suppressant lollipops and the detox teas they sell so often through their social platforms. It’s almost as if the people we see on our television screens and our Instagram feeds are not really on our side at all; instead, they are just messengers of the same destructive narrative that has brainwashed us for generations. That’s where Jameela Jamil comes in.

You might have seen Jameela on The Good Place as Tahani Al-Jamil – best friends with Beyonce, text buddies with the Dalai Lama and a proud owner of The Heart of The Ocean, gifted to her by her good friend James Cameron – but Jameela has made a name for herself in the feminist movement. She has become associated with conversations about self-love, making her almost like a big sister for millions of young people who might be under attack by the same ideals that once deeply affected her.

Born in the United Kingdom, Jameela was an English teacher when an opportunity to become a radio presenter changed the course of her career. She is now an actress and social activist, making waves with her social movement “I Weigh”. On social media, she is known as someone who will not shy away from calling out celebrities who sell harmful products to their followers in the name of weight loss and supposed health. What drives Jameela is the personal struggles with her body she experienced in her teens. She suffered from an eating disorder for three years until she was in a car accident when she was 17; the traumatic experience changed the way she treated her body. Through the platform she has created for herself during the course of her career, she wants to make sure that nobody is made to feel inadequate by influencers and corporations who profit from the self-hatred of their consumers.

It all started when Jameela came across a post about the body weight of all the Kardashian sisters; she scrolled through the comments and was horrified by the response of young girls comparing themselves to these celebrities. They were measuring their self-worth by how similar their own body weight was to those of the Kardashians who have the privilege of personal trainers, nutritionists and plastic surgeons to help them look the way they do. This led to Jameela making a post on her own Instagram handle listing all the things she weighed, including a successful career, a beautiful relationship with her boyfriend, family and her friends, and her mental health. What followed immediately after were messages from thousands of people listing their own accolades that didn’t have to do with physical attractiveness. She decided to dedicate an Instagram account to give them a platform, creating what she now calls “A museum of self-love”. The Instagram page titled “I Weigh” now has a following of 266,000 people and the numbers are continuing to grow.

What is so remarkable about Jameela is her courage. It is common for Hollywood celebrities to remain complicit when their contemporaries in the industry endorse an unhealthy product or lifestyle. Jameela, on the other hand, has no tolerance for celebrities who don’t act responsibly on their massive platforms and she has never refrained from publicly calling out problematic posts from stars such as Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Cardi B and many more. Jameela’s message is loud and clear, and she is here to stay. It is important for us to listen to what she has to say because in this age where our self-doubt and vulnerability can be used to sell us an illusion of happiness, it’s comforting to have someone who has our back.