If there’s one thing you can rely on British Asian presenter-turned global T.V. star Jameela Jamil for, it’s her no-nonsense approach towards Hollywood and societal pressures on women. Her “Emerging Hollywood” interview with Charlamagne was a breath of fresh air where she was frank and upfront about her own struggles, her motivations for moving to LA and where she stands on subjects like feminism, plastic surgery and diversity within the entertainment industry.
There’s so much of this interview I admired her for — from making the leap to America following a cancer scare to standing up for true diversity within the industry. Not only does Jamil continue to challenge the status quo, but her outlook is also refreshing and exactly what we need to keep reinforcing as mainstream societal trends come and go.
For example, the rise of female empowerment through the #MeToo movement gave women the platform they needed to speak up about sexual assault and misogynistic behaviour, which was liberating for victims that have been reluctant to speak up. However, there were some negative drawbacks to the movement which at times felt like a male witchhunt — think Aziz Ansari.
“We need men as our allies,” Jamil explained and she’s right. Being a feminist-in-progress as she puts it, isn’t about hating men but working with them and having their support to elevate women. There are so many men who feel that we should be afforded the same opportunities and rights as them, so why would we not align ourselves if there’s power in numbers?
Her feminism-in-progress is also about constructively calling women out when we need to as well. Look through Instagram and there will be memes and messages of women uplifting each other, but the truth is, not all women support one another. In fact, certain behaviours and attitudes can be extremely damaging to the sisterhood. It’s almost as though there’s this shame where we don’t call women out for fear of being labelled an anti-feminist, however, there is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing your opinion if you disagree with another female, nor is it wrong to call out destructive behaviour and choices.
Jamil has been extremely vocal of celebrities that endorse weight loss pills. This has constantly been misconstrued in the media as Jamil pitting herself against the likes of the Kardashians, when the reality is, public figures with these kinds of platforms should be making better decisions. She explains,
They’re selling products with bold claims of abilities with weight loss and aesthetic differences. They are attributing their aesthetic, which is down to a trainer, a chef, a dietitian, photoshop and surgery to a powder that you buy over the Internet.
Not only does this send a damaging message to young girls about their body image, but it’s also misleading as Jamil explains that these celebrities probably don’t even use these products.
They don’t drink them. I don’t even know if these people really take these products. They definitely can’t know what’s in them, because you would never recommend that to a 13 year old.
We as consumers and fans should want this too instead of simply buying into every endorsement and partnership.
With strong purchasing influence comes a responsibility to a loyal fanbase who have helped celebrities to attain a certain level of fame. It’s not something that you can switch on when you stand to make a profit and turn off when you’re involved in scandals. So the fact that Jamil sees through these damaging promotions and is speaking from a place of experience where she went through anorexia believing that her worth was in the way she looked, it’s evident that she’s trying to help steer young, impressionable people away from the same struggles she went through. If you ask me, that’s so much more admirable than buying into the latest slimming endorsement or fashion-nova celeb collection.
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Stop selling your weight loss nonsense to young people! Feminism is about equality, feminism is not just being able to hurt as many other women as you like and never be questioned about your behavior just because you’re also a woman. We all see you, well all see your greed, willful ignorance and refusal to be responsible, and we are tired, and we are done, and we are going to let you know about it until you get on the right fucking side. Link to this full video in Bio. @i_weigh
Her stance on ethnic representation also revealed that we’re still in the age of ‘token diversity’ where even though a South Asian may be cast in television or film, it will be to either fulfill a stereotype or play a minor or supporting role. Jamil wants this to change given the vast population that only have a handful of entertainers that represent them.
There’s a large and ever-growing population and also the products that are made in Hollywood and in America go out across the world.
There are also demographics from the Indo-Caribbean community who also contribute to the overall South Asian diaspora.
Jamil is a believer in being open to whatever enters her periphery — and it’s a mindset that we can all benefit from. She’s made the most out of the opportunities that have come her way and uses her platform to speak up and speak out with substance. Following Alabama’s abortion ban, Jamil shared how having an abortion was “the best decision I ever made.”
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I DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT YOU THINK OF MY DECISION. MY BODY. MY CHOICE. 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. I’m so stunned that our world is not only behind, it’s moving backwards. This hurts my heart in so many different ways, and in particular as a rape victim. I can’t imagine having fallen pregnant and being FORCED BY LAW to carry his baby to term, and see someone who looked like him every day, otherwise I can get the death penalty?! How do we help the women of Georgia? And Northern Ireland where this nightmare is ongoing.
For some, Jamil’s fierce and blunt approach may seem like an attack, annoying and incessant. Is she the first person to be making these bold statements? No, probably not. In fact, there are other advocates that have said to have educated Jamil on issues like body positivity, which she now shares with her following. However, there aren’t any South Asian public figures with the platform she has calling out scams that profit on people’s insecurities and trying to change the status quo where we measure our self worth with our achievements and intellect rather than comparing our external appearance. She realises the depth of this challenge coming from someone that looks the way she does and I love that she’s not deterred.
I completely understand if people distrust me. I look like the enemy, I’m slim, I fit in with society’s ‘conventional attractiveness’ and I am an actress in Hollywood, why would anyone trust me? But you’re just going to have to wait and see what I do… I’m not going to stop because people doubt me.