By Bailey Brockett
The Body Acceptance movement has taken many forms recently, and Jameela Jamil is a pioneer for them in so many ways. You may know her from portraying Tahani Al-Jamil in The Good Place, but she’s got quite the list of accomplishments behind her other than acting.
Her work in the body image and body acceptance movements are inspiring. Aside from her roles in film and television, she is perhaps most notorious for founding the “I Weigh” movement. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, she defines the movement as, “A mental health movement that really moves against shame, and changes the way that we look at ourselves, and teaches us to be grateful for our bodies, and for our minds.” In an interview with BUILD, she states that she was scrolling through the explore page of Instagram one day and she came across a picture of all the Kardashian women. Across each picture of the women was how much they weighed. She made the point that “You would never have a picture of a group of men, of businessmen, with their weight written across their body.” She proceeded to discuss how mortified she was by continuing to see pictures of successful women with their weight plastered across their faces instead of their accomplishments and their contribution to society. She said, “I realized that that’s still how we value women: Via how much flesh they have on their body and how much space they’re taking up in the world, physically. So, in response to this, she made the decision to say what she weighed on the internet which was her relationship, her financial independence, her friends, and her job. She implores people to realize that these are the types of things you will be thinking about on your deathbed, not your love-handles or whether or not you have a flat stomach. She received so many positive responses that she started a separate Instagram account for them all. It has encouraged thousands of people to post what they weigh, and, instead of a number on a scale, they choose to measure themselves by what brings them happiness. The “I Weigh” movement has given her opportunities to change policies on several social media platforms to protect impressionable minors from being exposed to detox and dieting products, and cosmetic surgery procedures. It has also allowed her to speak at the U.S Senate in an effort to pass two bills that would make this a priority and put it into practice. In her interview with Conan O’Brien, she said that she took products like those when she was younger and, “she’ll be damned if it’s gonna happen again.”
Jameela is also notorious for her witty and eloquent Twitter responses to ignorant, closed-minded people, and to articles that may not be seeing the full picture. Perhaps one of her most criticized and talked-about tweets was a thread she posted right after news about the plans for abortions bans in Georgia came out. She retweeted a news article regarding the bans and said, ” This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a disregard for our rights, bodies, mental health, and essentially a punishment for rape victims, forcing to carry the baby of their rapist.” She then proceeded to discuss her own experience getting an abortion, ” I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially.” When she is not making excellent points like these, she is shutting down know-it-alls who don’t actually know it all.
She also happens to be an advocate for mental health awareness. In a recent tweet, she mentioned her struggles with mental illness, and how they caused her to try and take her own life. She is also very open about struggling with eating disorders, and the emotional and physical pain it has caused her. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said, “I didn’t fully understand my shame, I just knew that I felt embarrassed about having a little seven-year-old tummy. By the time I was about eleven or twelve, I have very, very bad body-shame because I wanted to look like all of the anorexic models in my magazines, and I was fully anorexic by the time I was about thirteen.” In response to how she later felt about her disorder, and how she managed to cope with it, she stated, “I was very sad to see what I had done and how I had wasted the last couple of years of my life, and so I stopped starving myself and became healthier on what I would put into my body, but I still had an anorexic mentality until I was about twenty-eight.” Mental health is a process, and one that Jameela embodies perfectly.
To pay our respects to this incredible, inspiring woman, I ask you to consider posting what you truly weigh!