JAMEELA JAMIL WEIGHS IN 'SIZE DOESN'T MATTER'
Model and actress Jameela Jamil has something to say, and we think the whole industry needs to listen up…
There’s a song playing in the background when I speak to Jameela Jamil. It’s Dua Lipa’s I Don’t Give A F**k, which is pretty damn apt.
Jameela’s in the middle of something of a media whirlwind. Two weeks prior, the presenter-turnedactress who is regularly outspoken on social media, brought her followers’ attention to an Insta-snap of the Kardashians which detailed each of their weights. It prompted rage from 32-year-old Jameela.
‘Toxic,’ she wrote. ‘This is how women are taught to value themselves. In kilograms. Grim.’ Her response? A list of traits that determine her ‘weight’: ‘I’m financially independent.’ ‘I like my bingo wings’…
And then… BOOM, the ‘I weigh…’ campaign went viral.
‘I had no idea of the reaction it would create,’ says Jameela. ‘I was just angry at how women are valued in 2018. Every man I know is eating as much as he can. Every woman I know is eating less. In the ’90s we had heroine chic, where we had to look like we were so thin we were on drugs, now we expect people to be smaller, but with huge tits and a massive arse, too. Everyone’s obsessed with
how women should look. Men can get old, that’s just ‘sexy’, women are just supposed to ‘stay constant’. Yes, I’m pissed. This is what we’re valued for, how ‘little’ we are. Too little to function. But @i_weigh has started something.’
Now, @i_weigh has it’s own Instagram account (it’s already amassed 25.5k followers),and Jameela receives thousands of ‘I weigh’ snaps from women every day. And she’s using that to start a movement.
‘When I grew up we only had to look at celebrities, now it’s all airbrushing and filters. Suddenly, you have all these normal people and influencers projecting perfection [on Instagram]. People who have normal jobs, can feel supermodel pressure. It has created chaos.’
It can’t help that Jameela, who has been cast in The Good Place alongside Kristen Bell, (‘I love it, I can’t believe this is work’) is currently in the vanity epicentre: LA. Surely, this must have had an effect on her self-esteem, as most who visit the city seem to suggest?
‘I Weigh has actually spurred me on,’ she admits. ‘I’ve become healthier emotionally. I’m thinking less about my own appearance. Currently, I haven’t looked in the mirror for four days.’
Why? Because Jameela has her own personal experience to bring to her
campaign. As a teen, she’s been open about her battle with eating disorders. Then in 2008 when she was just 22, she landed a huge gig as the first woman to land the Radio 1 Chart Show. It was a huge deal and it became an even bigger one when viewing figures were released showing that Jameela had added 200,000 listeners. Not only was she the one presenter to have increased listeners, she was also the only female. A huge step forward in the gender war, right? Wrong.
‘I was naturally slim and then started taking steroids for asthma, just as the news had come out about the listeners. It was amazing because it proved women could do it all. The papers reported on all the male DJ’S listening figures, but for me? They only reported that I’d gained three dress sizes.’
‘I felt like all my hard work diminished. It wasn’t my job to look good. There was an onslaught of fat-shaming,’ she adds. ‘You don’t even want to know how disgusting the comments were from the paps who would wait outside my house, trying to push me into a reaction so they could get a photo of me looking sad. But I would never cry. I never let them get that picture. I would always make sure I held my head high and was happy and strong. I didn’t care about my size, whether it was because of medical reasons or just eating fries every day, it’s not my job to look good.
‘Now, I tell photographers, “Don’t take out my pimples, don’t airbrush me, don’t make my thighs slimmer. Yes, I have stretch marks on my boobs, leave them.” It offends me when they want to retouch me.’
But, with all the good work Jameela’s put into this campaign, I haven’t seen nearly as many celebrities get behind what she’s doing. ‘There’s some people who I know stand by what I’m trying to do,’ she tells me. ‘But they won’t openly side with it.’
It’s surprising when I Weigh comes right in the middle of a much wider movement by the fashion and beauty industry to be more diverse, more size inclusive (something, and I’m blowing Look’s trumpet here, we’ve always prided ourselves on). It’s gone as far as to have the opposite effect as Jameela recently came under fire when she said she was ‘done’ with body positivity.
‘I’m sorry about that,’ she tells me. ‘I did try and change it. I’m not trying to undermine all the good work that has been done. I am trying to champion the original body positivity for every shape, race and size. Now, it’s become about hashtags and marketing trends. Take brands like Simply Be, who I worked with. They actually care about the woman they’re selling to and they fight against the term plus-size. I love that.’
Jameela is now keen to keep pushing hard with @i_weigh and not let it lose momentum. ‘My plans are endless. I’m trying to do a documentary – I’m working on pulling together the right people for it now – and I’m writing a book. I want support for @i_weigh and for women to feel better about themselves.’