Calling time on Jameela Jamil and her toxic brand of feminism
It’s not everyday sis
J*m**la J*mil is everywhere. Kim K says something about her diet: Jameela is in the comments. A fitness influencer promotes bogus diet pills: Jameela is there for the retweets. Someone photoshops themselves: Jameela will try to make photoshop illegal. If any female celebrity ever does something bad, she pipes up. She's on the news. She's on the covers of magazines. She's at the top of your timeline. She's there so much she's become a voice in your head. She's that one mate you wish you deleted on Facebook years ago. But, question, where did she even come from???
Believe it or not, Jameela Jamil was once a Channel 4 presenter. Years ago, she was the voice who told you what episode of The Simpsons you were about to watch. But now she's appointed herself as the world's biggest answer to the patriarchy.
And in all fairness to her, she's done some really great things. She's launched "Why Not People?" – a members club for disabled people which hosts accessible live music gigs. She's started the body positive I-Weigh movement, which is a pretty cool campaign where women share photos of themselves and the things they've achieved instead of their weight. More recently she has been a prominent voice against diet shakes and hunger suppressant products. In fact, she was credited to having done more to expose detox-tea lies than the entire FDA.
But she's also been rubbing people up the wrong way:
In all honesty, you've probably low-key felt uncomfortable with her as well, but couldn't figure out why. Well I'm here to confirm you haven't lost your sanity and have actually picked up on something that goes way, way deeper.
The truth is, although Jameela Jamil is doing a good thing, her feminism is lazy, uncomfortable and patronising. And when she messes up, she absolves any responsibility she carries by saying she's a "feminist-in-progress." And mess up she has.
Her initial career as a columnist was founded on shaming women for having sex
Some people do bad things in the past and we shouldn't drag it all up. But when the world's most pernickety woman decides to go on a crusade against everyone, it's only fair to examine the harmful stuff she used to say.
Before Jameela Jamil became a big TV star in America, she was a columnist for Company magazine and wrote for her own blog. An example of her fine writing: "Sex is like money. The more of it there is going around, the less value it has" and "there’s something empowering and exciting about waiting a while [for sex]."
And sure, she may have addressed this in a wishy washy way on her Twitter a few times. But she's never properly apologised for it:
Jameela has continuously torn down female musicians, undermining their every move
A blog she published called "Booty and The Beast" in 2013 targeted Beyoncé. Jameela accused her of sexualising herself in order to sell her new album. She wrote: "Is it possible at all that in a climate of women OUT-FANNYING each other to sell records… a là Miley, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna… doing everything other than having a live smear test on stage, that Beyonce has succumbed to what gets attention they have deluded themselves into thinking it’s 'feminism' if you get your fanny out on 'your terms.'”
Jameela has been accused of being a SWERF – a sex worker exclusionary radical feminist because she repeatedly shamed women for doing anything remotely sexual. SWERFs are usually characterised by promoting socially conservative attitudes towards sex and sexuality, which clearly she has done for years and years.
She also once came for Rihanna, writing: "Amongst her flaunting of a relationship with a man who the entire world knows beat her senseless, her incessant promotion of marijuana, and daring stage antics… Now, call me old fashioned, but when did it become acceptable to post pictures of yourself naked on social- networking sites? Rihanna, I love you, but put your minge away will you?"
Funnily enough, a few years later, when it suited Jameela's new feminist brand, she tweeted about how Rihanna has "grown into such an important voice for women, for people of colour and for body positivity", calling her a "God-Level Boss." But she was shortly called out for being patronising towards a black woman.
She seems to be neglecting the very people body positivity was originally meant for
When Jameela stopped writing angry blog posts about female singers, she started campaigning for another cause – body positivity. Jameela had anorexia and various eating disorders when she was younger, so it's a topic close to home. "How can that possibly be a bad thing?" you're already typing in the comments. Well, the target of her anger may have changed, but her approach is the same.
The body positivity movement is for all women but it is not supposed to focus on all women. It has roots in fat acceptance. It was never intended to be commercialised to bolster the confidence of those women who are already catered for in mainstream society, ie. white, able-bodied, cis women with smaller bodies. Jameela's take on body positivity, however, focuses on exactly those women who are already seen as attractive, with bodies accepted by western beauty standards.
Jameela was even called out for being tone-deaf and the erasure of black women’s voices in her dialogue and body positivity campaign "I Weigh."
She savagely singles out individual women to make her point
In the past year alone, Jameela has gone after Iggy Azelea, Cardi B, Kim Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian. She targets the low-hanging fruit such as the Kardashians by calling them "sad" and telling them to "fuck off" to further her own brand of wokeness. Jameela's career has sky-rocketed since she's been shaming other women on the internet. She's been on cover after cover after cover. But you'd think someone with her problematic past would be kinder to people who clearly haven't reached her kind of "feminist enlightenment" yet.
The world isn't black and white. These celebrities are victims of the fat-shaming society we live in. Someone who calls themselves a feminist should know that all the issues they're fighting for are institutionalised.
And more importantly, you don't have to be this mean to people to prove your point.
She's ignorant of her own pretty privilege
Within the last year, Jameela Jamil has called for the ban of airbrushing, said people who photoshop their pictures are committing a "disgusting crime" and criticised people for having plastic surgery.
Not only does she ignore the huge privileges she possesses by saying this, but she consistently shames others while doing so. Because let's face it, she's still considered to be a slim, very beautiful woman by western beauty standards. And this fact seems to have somehow bypassed her entire thought process.
PSA: Not everyone can hire a professional photographer who puts amazing filters on their photos. Let us FaceTune in peace.
Calling herself a 'feminist-in-progress' allows her to avoid responsibility
Any time Jameela gets called out for anything she's said, she responds with the classic "I'm still learning" excuse. Just a few weeks ago, she got into a heated argument with Azealia Banks, in which she said cosmetic transformations are "self-hating."
This statement not only left transitioning trans women out of the equation, but policing anyone on getting plastic surgery is messed up. Besides, there are people who need plastic surgery in order to feel comfortable with themselves after an accident or because they have deformities. Have a day off mate.
She tries to speak for everyone, when the best thing she can do is pass the mic
How did a privileged thin person, who benefits from having a small body and is also seen as flawlessly beautiful by everyone, become the spokesperson for all-encompassing body positivity?
In this article about Jameela Jamil's Body Positivity Campaign, a reader summed up her hypocrisy:
"Body positivity cash cowing, feminist credentials policing, and puritanical bullshit to top it all off? I am not fighting the patriarchy so that I can be ruled by a matriarchy that gets to tell me how I should feel about my own body AND THEN STILL gets to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be allowed to do with it."
If you really cared about the wellbeing of those women and the message they're sending to their followers, do that without publicly singling them out. Use your privilege to support the already amazing activists out there instead of shouting over them. The conversations surrounding body positivity require nuance. Unfortunately Jameela Jamil hasn't offered that so far.