The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil is the body-positive celebrity we need

Jamil addresses disordered eating and privilege on social media

Jamil addresses disordered eating and privilege on social media
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Jameela Jamil is about to be your new favourite badass.

Joining the ranks of empowering female celebrities like Serena Williams, Chrissy Teigen, and Lorde, Jamil is the unfiltered, unedited, and unapologetic media presence the world needs right now. She’s the rare celebrity who challenges social expectations for women in the public eye both in real life and online.

Not only does Jamil bless our screens as philanthropist and fashionista Tahani on NBC’s The Good Place, she’s also popular on Instagram for her #IWeigh campaign. The social media movement asks participants to share photos of themselves surrounded by a list of personal attributes they care about more than “the flesh on [their] bones.”

Instead of thinking of weight as a number on a scale, Jamil’s movement asks us to value the positive characteristics they hold, like strength, honesty, accomplishments, friendships, and self-love.

Instead of thinking of weight as a number on a scale, Jamil’s movement asks us to value the positive characteristics they hold, like strength, honesty, accomplishments, friendships, and self-love.

In an interview with Buzzfeed this past October, Jamil explained the #IWeigh campaign stemmed from her own struggles with body image and disordered eating. “[W]eighing is not an indication of health,” she said. “It shouldn’t be part of our narrative.”

Jamil also uses social media to address sponsored celebrity weight-loss products which influential women often peddle on their platforms, especially Instagram. Last November, Jamil made headlines after criticizing Cardi B for accepting a detox tea brand deal and endorsing the product in online videos.

The actor took to Twitter, telling her followers, “[Y]ou need fiber! Not something that honestly just makes you have diarrhea the day you take it.” In additional tweets, she called out female celebrities for having diet plans and personal trainers but attributing their weight loss to these sponsored tea products.

Jamil explained that she used controversial weight-loss products as a teen and suffered from the results. She tweeted, “I was the teenager who [...] spent all her money on these miracle cures and laxatives and tips from celebrities [...] I have had digestion and metabolism problems for life.”

The thing that makes Jamil all the more likeable is she stays true to the advice she shares. Her photos are unedited, her posts uplifting, and her platform is used to highlight lesser-known causes and activists. 

Despite the actor’s authenticity, as a conventionally attractive woman herself, she’s been criticized for speaking out against body-shaming and societal beauty expectations. Critics seem to believe women at the forefront of the body positivity movement should better represent the disadvantaged community they defend. 

On Twitter, Jamil responded to these criticisms by saying, “Fat phobia and ableism leads those with power to willfully ignore the voices of the most important activists. Because of my privilege, they are not currently ignoring me. I take it as my duty to use that privilege to push things forward.”

While Jamil’s explanation is valid, her actions shouldn’t have to be justified. It’s admirable that Jamil is using her privilege and fame to further the causes that benefit everyone.

That’s why #IWeigh is so important. The campaign’s Instagram account has over 300,000 followers, allowing the people who submit their photos to reach a much wider group than they would otherwise. Jamil rarely posts photos of herself there. Instead, people with unique sizes, shapes, and skin colours greet you when you click through the page.

It’s important for our generation to have fiercely outspoken female role models in Hollywood and over social media. Jamil’s refusal to back down when it comes to speaking about what she believes won’t only inspire others to reject gender expectations, but also has the capacity to affect change. She may only be one voice, but Jamil’s shown that when you use your privilege against the patriarchal system, people listen.

Jamil’s refusal to back down when it comes to speaking about what she believes won’t only inspire others to reject gender expectations, but also has the capacity to affect change.

Recently, Jamil shared that she wore jeans under her dress at the 2019 Golden Globes. She paid for the dress—and, I’m guessing, the jeans—out of pocket, did her own makeup, and wore jeans because she knew it’d be cold. 

If that isn’t the most relatable thing a celebrity’s ever done, I don’t know what is.

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