JUST A QUICK NOTE; THERE IS BREIF MENTION ON THE TOPIC OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARRASSMENT, EATING DISORDERS, SUICIDE AND DIETING IN THIS EPISODE. WHILE I DO NOT DISCUSS DETAILS, YOU MAY NOT BE COMFORTABLE WITH THIS, SO I UNDERSTAND IF YOU WANT TO SIT THIS ONE OUT.
Modern society is all about the comparison game, especially when it comes to body image and health, and I feel that a lot of people get drawn in by the shiny image of wellness, rather than the unhealthy or unrealistic reality bubbling beneath the surface. Someone I really admire for challenging these ideas is Jameela Jamil. You have probably heard of her, seen her in magazines, and probably loved her in the TV show The Good Place.
Jameela Jamil suffered from an eating disorder in her teenage years, reportedly not eating anything between the age of 14 to 17 which was largely triggered by the ideals of Beauty which she saw in the magazines and TV images at the time. A few years later, Jamil started out her career in media on British TV shows and later popular radio shows but in 2016 she moved to the States and had an unplanned career change into acting after successfully auditioning for The Good Place.
In 2018 Jamil was disappointed to see the Kardashian and Jenner sisters posing for a photo together, all comparing their weight.
Inspired to take action and use her platform for good she created the Instagram handle, I weigh. I weigh is all about measuring people by their success and all of the beautiful and unique things that make us who we are rather than measurements of our outward appearance. This platform is completely intersectional, no one is excluded from this space, and it challenges not only damaging beauty standards but also transphobia, ableism, racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, mental health stigmas… and, well I could go on for days! if you were to go on this platform right now scrolling through would probably make you feel how it makes me feel: More normal, more human, Ok exactly how I am, but also challenged in some of the biases and ideals I may not be aware that I have.
The main idea behind this movement is giving value and meaning people without prescribing an expectation set by the media, influencers and celebrities who perhaps have a lot more money, privilege, and access to ways be able to fit in with these norms. A good example of this is how Jamil tends to champion against celebrities who advertise for diet products and appetite suppresants which have little scientific backing regarding health behind them, and questioning where these products lie within our society. This movement truly challenges the idea that skinny is healthy, she particularly takes offence, as do I with products which are probably exposing us to harmful chemicals or ill health simply to make us look like the body shape that is currently in fashion.
Jamil also talks about the responsibility of public figures to be honest with their audience. She challenges those who promote a version of themselves that is for example airbrushed wearing a corset subjected to cosmetic surgery and using these things to sell a product well being dishonest about how they have achieved the looks that the photo shows.
Well, no one is off limits and many people have been called out by Jamil such as the Kardashians, many Pop Stars, actors, and runway models. She also actively campaigns against cancel culture, reminding us all that while we should call people out for harmful behaviour, everyone deserves a second chance if they are willing to put in the work to improve themselves and become better people in the future.
Jamil has gained popularity as an activist and with this comes great pressure. She is often asked to speak on every and any issue that arises in our society and manages to speak out a huge amount, with grace and good intent. She has also been incredibly outspoken on issues facing our climate expressing support for Jane Fonda, Greta thunberg and many other activists within the climate change movement.
Jamil actively participates in charity work as well, she once wore a chicken costume for 16 consecutive days which was to match the amount that her sponsorship equalled being 16,000 pounds. Jameela Jamil has achieved all of these amazing things and deserves to be honoured; she has been included in the forces for change issue of the British Vogue magazine, and has won several awards to do with her advocacy and activism work.
Jamil has also been extremely open with her experiences of sexual assault which can be incredibly difficult for survivors to discuss, however is an invaluable way to bring awareness to the issue and make other survivors feel less alone.
If all of these amazing things weren’t enough it has also been revealed that Jamil has suffered from many different PHYSICAL health issues including cancer scares, lumpectomies, and living with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She also suffers from anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder and is very open with her survival of a suicide attempt earlier in her life. She often criticises the way that people who have mental health issues unable to gain services in many different countries around the world, especially those less privileged.
Thanks to the groundwork of Jameela Jamil,the I weigh movement has grown and taken on more and more forms. What started as an Instagram page now has a website and a podcast hosted by jamila. This is no longer a celebrity simply trying their best to make a difference, this is a movement of people from celebrities to everyday people like you and I getting involved to tell our stories, and listen to others’ so that we can educate ourselves on issues faced by people who may be different to us. This is a truly holistic approach to social health and wellness and I think what I have gained from this movement is the link between mental health and physical health. A reminder that we cannot be truly physically healthy if we are not mentally healthy.
The I weigh movement continues to have a huge impact on our society supporting the black lives matter campaign, bringing awareness about harassment on the street particularily for women, rights for people within the lgbtqi+ communities, and plenty more.
One of my favourite projects on the iWeigh community website is the stereotypes project, created by Mark Leibowitz.
Leibowitz felt very frustrated around the polarization that had emerged around the time of the 2016 US election and he wanted to find a way for people to be able to understand each other more than they judged each other, and look past the stereotypes we often prescribe to people. Leibowitz tries to achieve this by asking three specific questions of the people involved in the project; how do you other people view you, how do you view yourself, and how do we reconcile the difference. While they started with celebrities and well-known people within this community they are now open to anyone wanting to submit a video of themselves answering these questions.
Being able to visually see people identifying the stereotype that we hold about them and provide alternative or further information about who they are as a person is an amazing way for us to learn about the stereotypes that we hold, and the assumptions that we make about other people. It is also a great way to have much better understanding about people who may be different to us but also to be able to relate to people who we have maybe never related with before including those who hold different views to what our own are. This challenges the notion that I feel we often fall into nowadays that if someone holds different views to us that we should not make the effort to no them support them or learn any more about them.
I strongly encourage you to have a look in the show notes and check out Jameela Jamil’s Instagram, the I weigh Instagram and also the iWeigh podcast and website. I think these are amazing platforms. They provide incredible empowerment for people who have historically been marginalised, amplifies voices of those previously unheard. And it provides learning and understanding in this area that I don’t think we’ve ever had in our society before on this scale.
I really hope that this kind of movement can change the world. I truly believe that people should be valued and measured by their actions, achievements, and personalities, and that the harmful monetization and exploitation of women and minorities as public figures and influencers needs to stop, iWeigh is definitely an important step. I continue to be inspired by Jameela Jamil and I hope that I can in my own way leave some kind of Positive Impact on the world like she has. Thanks so much for being here with me for this episode of good news, good night.