Jameela Jamil: Not Just a Pretty Face

As someone who has followed her since the beginning of her career, I have always seen Jameela Jamil as an inspiring young woman who would go on to do great things, and she has succeeded. I’m so glad that she has got the recognition she deserves and is using her platform for good, by spreading positivity and speaking up for what she believes in.

If you don’t know who she is, you’re about to. She is making waves in the States with her recent appearance in The Good Place on Netflix. With Season 3 having aired its first episode on NBC on 27th September and on Netflix the day after, now is the perfect time to binge watch and catch up on the first two seasons (I would definitely recommend; it’s a clever bit of light-hearted comedy that doesn’t offend anyone to make its jokes).  You might also recognise her voice from her radio work presenting The Official Chart Show on BBC Radio 1 (the first woman to do so) from 2012 to 2015. You may even be familiar with her from her first appearance on TV presenting T4 on Channel 4 from 2009 to 2012.

The Good Place

 

Working in the broadcasting media, Jameela has quite often had the scrutiny of the press to deal with. Being a high-profile presenter and writing articles for Company and Cosmo UK magazines, she became well known in the public eye and had to deal with the pressures of conforming to the expected standards of style, fashion and appearance. From the beginning of her career, Jameela has always been against the idea of photoshop. She describes it as “toxic” and “one of the worst things to happen to women in recent history”.  Photos of her have been airbrushed, without her consent or approval, and sometimes even the shape of her nose and colour of her skin were changed to make her look more Caucasian. Now when she shoots a photo campaign, she always asks not to have anything retouched.

 The media were also quick to comment and criticise her shape and her weight. Especially when she gained 70lbs from taking steroids due to an illness. She wrote on Twitter, “the paparazzi tried to shame me and would taunt me outside my own house. Did I cover up? No. I wore whatever I liked and owned my fun body…” In a recent podcast with Channel 4, Jameela revealed that she suffered from an eating disorder when she was younger due to the influence of the media. From the ages of fourteen to seventeen, she did not eat a proper meal. There was an overwhelming pressure to be thin that came from images of celebrities and supermodels. No other representation was available, and this was the narrative that was set for young girls and women, that in order to matter, you had to be thin and attractive.

Finally, enough was enough. While scrolling through Instagram one day, she came across a photo of the Kardashian family with numbers written across each one of them. This photo was showing everyone how much they weighed. The caption also encouraged others to comment their own weight below. No matter what you might think of the Kardashians, they are very successful business women who have built an empire and a brand. However, all the media can comment on is how much they weigh and how they look. This prompted Jameela to post her own photo of her weight. She did not use a number measured by scales, but instead listed all the things that make up the sum of her, for example her relationship, her friends, her job and her passion for speaking for women’s rights. She got a wave of responses of women and men from all over the world replying with their own ‘I weigh’ photographs. So many, in fact, that there is an entire Instagram page dedicated to them, @i_weigh .

This whole page and campaign was set up to make people think about how much they value their physical appearance, and often neglect other aspects of themselves. The photos celebrate intelligence, gifts, talents, achievements, activities, hobbies, interests, lifestyles; basically anything that plays a part in who you are and what makes you, you. This is such a breath of fresh air from all the advertising and unrealistic standards “influencers” are paid to give us. We have to remember that social media is not a true representation of real life. It is what others want us to see; the good parts. With her actions, Jameela Jamil has reminded us that actually, it is ok not to look like a flawless model. She has voiced what a lot of us feel, and what a lot of people in her industry are too afraid to say. We need more people like her to promote this message of acceptance and body positivity. So thank you Jameela, for always supporting us and sticking up for us!