Model and ac­tress Jameela Jamil has some­thing to say, and we think the whole in­dus­try needs to lis­ten up…

Look (UK) - - #LWIW -

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.’

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