She's Got VERVE - Why We Love Jameela Jamil
If you haven’t heard of Jameela Jamil in the last couple of months, then I honestly don’t know where you’ve been. Previously a radio presenter for BBC 1 and former host of ‘The Official Chart’, Jamil gained further recognition when she starred as ‘Tahani’ on the American TV show ‘The Good Place’ (If you haven’t watched it already, you absolutely should) after being told she was ‘too ethnic, old & fat’ to make it in Hollywood. Although, like her TV character ‘Tahani’, she has spent much of her time doing charity work and activism, it wasn’t until recently that she gained monumental recognition for all of her hard work. And oh my, does she deserve it.
After openly talking about her own anorexia, having not eaten a proper meal between the ages of 14-17 and as a result not menstruating throughout that time, and talking about the car crash that broke her back and led doctors to believe she’d never walk again, Jamil most certainly has a right to be as furious as she is when it comes to the way society has treated women in relation to their body-image. In her most recent interview with Channel 4’s Kirshnan Guru-Murthy she talks about how growing up in the 90s, where ‘hip-bones were a thing’ and skinny = success, influenced her and her school friends to cut down to 400 calories a day in an attempt to attain the unrealistic goal Hollywood was selling them. And this was before social media.
Now, with the Kardashian Klan ruling social media, their influence is vast and powerful. Which makes the fact that they advertise the most recent assault on the female body - the Flat Tummy Lollipops - a devastating blow to Jameela Jamil, who is out here trying to celebrate Women in all their shapes & sizes. After calling them out Kim K deleted the post (Go Jameela!), but then she stumbled upon a picture of the Kardashian Klan alongside the amount they weighed in KG. And thus…… ‘iWeigh’ was born. Starting out as a rebuttal, a picture of Jamil alongside what she believes she weighs (‘A loving relationship’, ‘Financial Independence’ etc), became so big she had to create an Instagram account and hire somebody to manage the amount of pictures of women coming in doing the same thing. When I first saw it my heart swelled with joy. How often have we put ourselves down? Forgotten that the real measurement of success lies in the person that we are, and not the numbers on a scale? Too often. Now everyday I see pictures of women I don’t know express confidence in themselves because Jamil has helped them see that they are so much more than what they’ve been told.
‘Time’s Up on women being sold as nothing more than flesh on our bones’ - Jameela Jamil
She called the Kardashian Klan ‘Double-Agents for the Patriarchy’, and isn’t she right? They are women who use their power and status to get money from putting other women down; for influencing generations of women to be exactly who the patriarchy wants them to be: skinny, compliant, pretty. And like she says in the aforementioned video, how much money does anybody really need? We all know the Kardashian’s aren’t scrambling for cash. So why get paid to advertise something they should realise instills so much hatred into girls and women? There has been a backlash against Jamil calling out the Kardashian’s. Women saying that her feminism is toxic because she’s bringing the Kardashian’s down in an attempt to lift herself up. I don’t believe that. Every person is entitled to their opinion of her, but to me, she is lifting every woman up to a level of self-acceptance and self-love. She isn’t telling us not to care about our appearances, but that those factors shouldn’t be the defining feature of our self-worth; that there’s infinitely more to women than we’ve been taught, and that these attributes should be celebrated. Say what you will, but her activism has done wonders for women in so many places. Perhaps, one day, women will not be defined by their image, but rather their intellect and everything they’ve achieved. On that day, we sure as hell should thank Jameela Jamil for helping us get there.
Article by Helena Burton-Jones