Jameela Jamil to the Kardashians: Stop selling laxatives and I’ll back off

Jameela Jamil was among the recent defenders of the Duchess of Sussex against the racist bullies in the English press after they attacked Meghan (and Harry) for using Elton John’s private plane. Jameela speaks up when something doesn’t sit well with her. She gave an interview to Bustle for their 2019 Rule Breakers issue. She’s on the cover! People shared some of the highlights, including Jameela’s comments about the Kardashians’ endorsement of a variety of weight-loss aids:

On wanting the Kardashians to use their platform for good
“I’m not trying to cancel anyone. I don’t want to beef with the Kardashians. They have a huge amount of influence. I just want them to use that for more good. I think what Kim does with the prison system is really cool. Stop selling laxatives and I’ll get off your d*ck.”

On criticizing Miley Cyrus in 2013 for how she expressed her sexuality onstage, and Beyoncé in 2014 for showing too much skin in a music video
“I regret all the mistakes I made. I call myself a feminist-in-training. Stuff I said when I was younger — I didn’t really have all the answers yet. I hadn’t had therapy yet. I didn’t know who I was actually angry at.”

On being mocked by tabloids for her temporary weight gain
“I’ve been playing bullsh*t whack-a-mole for the last 10 years.”

On unrealistic beauty ideals
“The beauty ideals of our generation are still stemmed in white supremacy… I’m using all the different privileges I have to try to kick the door open and let everyone else in. I’m the Trojan horse.”

On her motivation for calling out body shaming
“Being in the middle of this industry and being used as a vessel to set unrealistic standards for other women — because I was being Photoshopped, and altered, and starved — made me realize that, ‘Oh, my god, everything I thought was real was a lie when I was a teenager. I have to tell the other teenagers.’”

[From Bustle]

I really love everything that Jameela has to say here about the problematic “beauty ideals” that many of us aspire to, and that she connects them to white supremacy for people who haven’t necessarily made that connection. I also appreciate her nuanced take on the Kardashians: She doesn’t want to “cancel” anybody, and she can simultaneously praise them for some of their work while calling out the more problematic bs. And, I also respect that Jameela realizes that she needlessly criticized both Miley and Beyoncé. Anyone who admits a mistake and has learned and revised her opinion gets props in my book.

I really connected with Jameela’s response to being mocked by tabloids after she gained weight temporarily because of needing steroids. That sums up my own experience dealing with all kinds of garbage (not only specific to weight) over the past several years. I’ve often told people that I feel like I’m playing “Whack-a-Mole” when I’m trying to get a lot done at once and more things keep popping up, but I love Jameela’s description of this particular problem. I can’t wait to see what she does after The Good Place finishes its run.




Photo credit: Emily Shur/Bustle received via promotional email

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53 Responses to “Jameela Jamil to the Kardashians: Stop selling laxatives and I’ll back off”

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  1. MachineElf says:

    I hope the Kardashians listen. In high school in the middle of the nineties when everyone wanted to look like Kate Moss, laxatives were a huge problem. My friends and I would go out to dinner and pass around laxatives at the end like some sort of after dinner mint. Laxatives give quick results because you lose water weight. That kind of instant gratification can be addictive. To promote this unhealthy cycle is truly ignorant and unhealthy. I wish there had been people like Jameela speaking out back then.

  2. Michael says:

    Does her criticisms work? I honestly have no idea who she is or what she does outside of her always criticising other (bigger) celebrities. I know she is in a show somewhere but the only perception of her that I have is as a critic. I wonder if I am the only one?

    • Claire says:

      You know, that was the first thing I thought of when I read this article too. I wish she would balance out her critiquing with more enabling. We don’t have nearly enough people speaking up for the status quo. Women who are critical are just such a drag /s

      • Michael says:

        LOL. Snark received. But my point still stands. Does the general public know her for much besides her criticsms? Also, in the hip hop world it is common for a lesser artists to go after a bigger artists because they get attention from the attack and if the bigger star retaliates they get more “cred” because they were acknowledged. I am not attacking the validity of her criticisms just that she may be known more for that than her actual work

      • castletoz says:

        Micheal, for many years as a teenager and through college I worked on the grounds crews of local gold courses as, usually, the only female on the crew. If I pointed out inefficiencies or pointless work I would be called a whiner or a complainer. This happened more times than I can count. Weirdly enough, every time the change I was trying to make got implemented within a few weeks of my pointing out the problem.

        What I’m trying to say, is women are often given negative labels like whiners, complainers or critiquing B’s when men just want them to shut up and know their roles. Just because she’s saying it, and you don’t care for it, doesn’t make her wrong.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think most people know her from starring on a highly rated, critically beloved tv show.

      • Shannon says:

        ^^^ This. The Good Place isn’t exactly some unknown show that just came out. I’m sure not everyone has heard of it, but it’s certainly enough of a hit that she’s not just some rando.

    • Frida_K says:

      I know who she is because she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and is a wonderful source of public information on this not-so-rare rare disease:


    • B says:

      She’s well know in the UK, she always comes across as funny and articulate.

    • simonasays says:

      Her criticisms work very well to give her a USP and advance her career.

    • Kimberly says:

      Michael….dare I say… you are not her goal. You are not her demo. she has been in a range of highly praised shows, and just because you dont know who she is, doesnt take anything away from her or her message.

      If you only clicked because of the Kardashian thing…that’s funny. I haven’t watched anything Kardashian since 2009 bc they’re irrelevant to me and my like minded. To me Kardashians are infamous and not famous.

  3. BlueSky says:

    She was on Amanda Seales podcast and I came away with a better understanding as to why she is so dogged about calling out celebrities hawking those weight loss products.

    As a black woman who grew up in the late 70s and early 80s I agree that the beauty standards are steeped in white supremacy. I hardly saw anyone on the cover of magazines or TV or movies that looked like me or represented black women in a way that was seen as beautiful. I feel that is why black women who embrace their curves, skin color, and hair texture often get ostracized or harassed because it goes against that European standard of what beauty is.

    • LaUnicaAngelina says:

      I agree, Bluesky. Tying in white supremacy to classic all-American beauty tropes makes so much sense. As a brown-skinned girl growing up, I was made to feel like I was never pretty enough. The first Latinx role model I remember on tv was Maria on Sesame Street, but they were few and far between. I would cringe any time referred to a blond, blue-eyed person as a “class beauty” because I was never going to be that. I could never articulate why I was hurt, but I knew that term was problematic.

    • Kitten says:

      I can imagine how frustrating that would be. Do you feel like we’ve made any progress in that direction?
      On one hand, I feel like there was more representation in the 80s when we had shows like 227 or Family Matters etc.
      Yet when I was at the movies recently I was struck by how many trailers were for movies that featured black casts and black directors. I’m not sure if that helps as much for body diversity but it’s heartening to see black folks holding it down creatively in Hwood. I was also struck by how every damn movie looked amazing! Like, finally Hollywood *might* be getting the point that increasing diversity = increasing talent pool.

      Also, I need to listen to Amanda’s pod. I absolutely love her and she (and her kitties) are one of my fave IG follows 🙂

    • sammiches says:

      AHHHH I love Amanda Seales so, so much.

      Sorry, I know that is not the point of your comment, but I can never pass up the opportunity to declare my love for Amanda.

  4. Lenn says:

    Sometimes I think about all the Kardashians could accomplish if they used their platform and power to do good. To help people. To raise awareness. All they’ve really done for the world is create an unrealistic beautystandard. I’m so tired of the big butts and big lips. I’m so tired of them packaging all this crap in ‘empowerment’ and ‘selflove’. It is damaging our youth, the young girls we Are trying to raise to not care about what you look like but to care about whats inside.

  5. Seraphina says:

    I appreciate her real-ness. She apologized for what she said when she was younger, hey we’ve all been there. And yeah, the laxatives being used as weight loss needs to stop.

    • Erinn says:

      I really like her, honestly. There ARE occasionally times where I’m like “we get it Jameela” but it’s really because she’s preaching to the choir in terms of me receiving the message, and I know there are people out there that do need to hear it.

      There will be a lot of talk about how she’s just looking for attention – but I genuinely think there’s more to it than that. She’s been open and honest about her own struggles with body image, and not being a great feminist over the years. She started the “#IWeigh” movement in an attempt to empower women to think of themselves as SO much more than a number on a scale. She refuses to have photos of herself retouched. So it’s not just her talking the talk – she tries her best to walk the walk as well.

      And ANYONE who is railing against ‘cleanses’ and ‘detoxifying’ is a person that I want to sit next to. It’s absolutely dangerous and neglectful for celebrities to be advertising things like that, so I’m glad she’s constantly taking swipes at that industry and everyone who participates.

  6. fishface says:

    I understand what she means about being a feminist in training. I grew up in an environment where women were slut shamed, fat shamed, everything shamed. It has taken me a long, long time and a lot of effort to throw off this kind of negative energy towards other women. I now make a conscious effort when I see women in revealing clothing, for instance, to say: “Good for them.” Same with women who don’t cover up with baggy clothing but who celebrate and love their curves. Same with plastic surgery, make-up – whatever. Your body, your choices. I respect that.

    • Kitten says:

      I think a LOT of us have had to kind of deprogram from that way of thinking. It really does become so ingrained: the underlying misogyny behind the collective message that society sends us.

      I appreciate that she was honest and owned up to her mistakes. That is SO effin rare in the celeb world and really refreshing.

    • lucy2 says:

      I get it, and feel like I”m still learning and growing myself. At least I hope so, as that’s what we all should want to do! Owning up to past mistakes is important, as is learning from them and hopefully not repeating them.

    • Savannah says:

      Is it really a woman’s choice when plastic surgery, make up etc. exist on a basis of constantly telling women they’re not good enough though?

      I mean, is it really a free-will kind of choice when the choice to get fillers, get butt implants or contour your face to hide the shape of your nose basically is some made up “right answer” for women to feel worth, good enough and accepted?
      When their “choice” is being profited off of and exploited?

      • fishface says:

        @Savannah – yes, all good questions. And I think that it’s hard to given definitive binary answers. Between the ‘no – women who do this are responding to societal tropes about women being ‘less’ if they aren’t beautiful, thin, young…’ and the ‘yes – women who do this are making a choice and should be respected for making that choice..” is a lot of grey area. Because I think its varying degrees of both. But there are good role models out there who don’t conform to mainstream societal demands and they are increasingly diluting the ‘norm’. From Frances McDormand to Beth Ditto, Beyonce and Rihanna to Lizzo.

  7. Léna says:

    I really would like women’s opinion on this. I am feminist but I surprise myself having “wrong thoughts” sometimes.
    I love Beyoncé, Rihanna and other pop stars expressing their sexuality and sexiness on screen. It normalizes and empowers other women. But, and this is where I need opinion, I feel like, especially on social media, women claim to post empowering and feminist pictures by posing naked/really raunchy pictures, when I feel like they are just playing the game society wants them to play. Is it really feminist to post naked or is it just what the (men) public wants to see? I’m just a bit confused sometimes as to why we are doing some things now.

    Would love to have opinions, I’m not opposed to other extremes opinions

    • Nahema says:

      I don’t know what the answer is but I am often confused by that too. On one hand I love seeing women dress however they like and I think they should be allowed to use their femininity & sexuality however they want, even if that includes selling it to men… but then it still feels like everything is aimed at and created for men.

    • Erinn says:

      I wrote out a reply, but apparently my comment got eaten /:

      Ultimately, I think it really relates to whether or not the body autonomy is there. Is whoever doing this doing it with control over their own body, or are they doing it because they’re being pushed to sell a certain image. Are they feeling proud of their body – the good and the bad, or are they doing it because they’ve been told this is how they should look. I think that if being appealing to men is a by-product of that it doesn’t automatically negate any feminist aims. And as long as they’re not out there telling kids that a great body is somehow the be all and end all and they should not bother with education or career or building strong relationships with others as long as they look the way society dictates as ‘good’, then it’s not so much a problem.

      I think a lot of the problem is when people start dictating that someone is more OR less valuable based on how they look/dress/act/who they date and not their intentions or character as a whole.

    • Kitten says:

      Oh man..I struggle with this so much and wish I could provide you with a clear answer.

      I know Otaku Fairy has some interesting thoughts on this…maybe we’ll see her on this post today.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      I struggle with this as well! On one hand I feel like a woman owning her sexuality is a great thing and then on the other sometimes it can feel like a self-esteem issue and looking for validation from the male gaze. Ultimately I think it comes down to the motivation and reasoning behind it. For instance take someone like Emily Ratajowski. She claims that she is all about women’s bodily autonomy but a lot of what she does reads as simply attention-seeking or exhibitionist. And while again – that’s not necessarily wrong it does make me wonder is it stems from a need for validation. Which negates the whole reasoning. It’s a touchy subject. And I would never want to come across as body-shaming so a lot of the times I don’t say anything at all.

    • Naddie says:

      I think it’s all about spontaneity. If the women celebrating their bodies are all skinny, hourglass and pear shaped (no tummy, please!), with sexy poses, then we have a problem. Plus there’s always something wrong if men are enjoying it. That’s my meter for the situation.

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        Male biological response has always been a deeply flawed meter for whether or not a woman doing something is a problem for women or feminism. Partially because it prioritizes male feelings over female feelings, and partially because men being aroused/ getting pleasure from something doesn’t mean men aren’t also willing to mistreat, kill, or take rights from women to get them to stop doing things that they or other men could get pleasure from. Not to mention the fact that most things a woman could choose or reject have already been fetishized anyway. Some men even fetishize the existence of certain women based on assumptions about who will be classier and more submissive to conservative agendas (and get quite tantrumy when they turn out wrong).

    • lucy2 says:

      To be honest, my gut reaction to that sort of thing is often “cover up, you don’t need to do that!” because I want women to be celebrated for their talent, intelligence, humor, hard work, not how they look. But then I go through a whole mental process of reminding myself that they should be able to wear things and do as they please, and express themselves how they choose, even I personally wouldn’t do the same.
      Erinn’s comment about body autonomy is spot on.

    • SuperStef says:

      Good question, Lena.

      I think for some women, being able to wear as little as they like is empowering. While it may feed into what men want, some women see it as a way of embracing their feminine power and ability to be who they want to be.

      I was always quite conservative in how I dressed because I didn’t like too much male attention. I got a lot of attention from men before it was appropriate. At 25, I started belly dancing and tapped into a different kind of female empowerment. Showing off my body and dancing was about my own personal feminine power and nothing else. Sure, it may appear sexy but it was also strong and artistic and a form of personal expression. It helped me balance my femininity and see we don’t have to act like men to be powerful women.

      To each their own, I think feminist knowledge and personal growth in being strong women today is a personal journey. There is no road map.

    • Pixie says:

      @Lena, I am a feminist too and I never understood the need to turn highly sexualised, objectified women into some kind of feminist movement of empowerment. Honestly, I know Jameela got a lot of criticism for critique-ing Miley Cyrus and Beyonce, but I thought she made a few solid points. In fact, Bell Hooks has made similar critique’s of Beyonce in the past. I am a huuge fan of B, but she is a quintessentially beautiful woman using her body (in part, she is obviously hugely talented) for financial gain – that is not feminist, it is simply bargaining with patriarchy for financial success. Of course, she is well within her rights to do so and I certainly don’t judge it, but that doesn’t make something feminist. A lot of women in the public eye use a version of sexuality which had its parameters set by men and patriarchal values because they know that is how they will succeed in an industry where men hold most of the power, and a world that is used to commodifying women’s bodies. If they were simply expressing their autonomy and doing it only because they want to, why aren’t there as many uber successful female musicians that don’t use their bodies? Who is the female equivalent of Ed Sheeran? Why do rappers get to look like Lil Wayne and Jay Z and Megan and Cardi have to be knockouts and feel they have to go to extreme lengths and get full body plastic surgery right after having a baby in Cardi’s case? We live in a patriarchal world and to bargain with it successfully is fair and understandable, but that doesn’t mean it’s above critique or feminist. I do feel differently about women who don’t cover up in real-life though, because that is an expression of self outside of capitalist concerns and they’re just dressing how they want to (which may or may not be a result of the patriarchal world we live in, but that’s for people to decide for themselves and I wouldn’t dream of policing a women just living her life).

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        “I never understood the need to turn highly sexualized, objectified women into some kind of feminist movement of empowerment.”
        Because our patriarchal society has a habit of only wanting to consider giving ‘good girls’ a voice, and feminists have imitated some of the exclusion and silencing tactics. There’s not just a hierarchy of men vs. women, but modest women/perfect victims of misogyny and immodest women/imperfect victims of misogyny, as well as added ones based on race and sexual orientation at play depending on who is being discussed. Among other things, sex positive feminism is about doing away with those abuses (in all their forms) along with the myths and mentalities that drive them.

    • Jaded says:

      @Lena: It’s a double-edged sword and a difficult thing to quantify. On the one hand women are expressing their sexuality after hundreds of years of repression, but on the other hand they’re playing into a male-defined vision of women, i.e. as sexual objects. If you go overboard, like Miley Cyrus, Cardi B, etc., you’re defining yourself in a patriarchal light. It’s all well and good to be proud of your sexuality – I remember decades ago watching Annie Lennox perform in leather pants and a bra and thinking “damn she’s AMAZING” because she didn’t tip over into a parody of sexuality which many female performers are doing today, and influencing young women to rely solely on sexual titillation as empowerment.

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        Nope. ‘Going overboard’ (according to whose standards, exactly? Hmm…) Can be another way of rejecting slut-shaming and victim-blaming on both the right AND the left.

    • Savannah says:

      What’s problematic is that women always is a subject for other people’s gaze.
      Not just for men, for women too.

      For some reason, being a woman is first and foremost about looks and appearance.

      So when someone like Emily Ratajowski is undressing and being all sexy in the name of feminism she’s right about having the choice to do wtf she wants cause it’s her body and we are sexual beings.

      What makes it problematic to me is that she’s also doing excactly what young girls are being taught through society in general: Being female means being judged by your appearance.
      To have worth, to have oppinions, to take up space, in this world – you must accept that you are for other people’s visual consumption.

      It’s so wrong to me.
      Do we judge men that way? When a man speaks out publicly about an issue, do we jump straight into conversations about his hair, his body or his face?
      And why not?

    • Savannah says:

      And just to add something: There’s no wonder you’re confused about it.
      We all are, I think.
      Cause we keep getting mixed messages as women.
      In magazines we might have an article about losing weight and just a few pages in recipies on chocolate cakes, and also an article about loving your body they way it is.
      We can’t win.

      We need to stop focusing on LOOKS and start focusing on BRAINS.

  8. Samantha says:

    What is this one famous for again? She really wants attention.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      “this one” (nice shade, there…) is famous for being on a highly rated and critically praised television show. She was also what they call a “presenter” in the UK for several years.

    • Jules says:

      She’s not famous. I believe that girls are much smarter than her. The Kardashian’s have built empires acknowledging their mistakes. No one gets that.

  9. Tina says:

    She’s a terrible actress. I can see why she’s going all in on being a rent a gob on these issues. She seems to have every struggle goi g though… Its exhausting listening to her

  10. Adrien says:

    Our bodies build tolerance to laxatives especially the herbal ones. Overtime, it won’t be as effective as the first few times you took them or worse the time you poop won’t be as predictable as before. They will take effect just when you are out having dinner with friends or stuck in heavy traffic and the nearest gasoline station is 20 km away.

    • Girl on fire says:

      Haha! i take them when i know ill be home all day.

      • Mariettaj81 says:

        @girlonfire… you should try digestive enzymes, I had horrible issues with constipation, bloating, etc. and they are absolutely wonderful! I am never constipated or need laxatives again!

        But yes, laxatives are horrible. And now I never have to take them anymore! 😉

    • Apalapa says:

      Yes 🙁 I hope if anyone is reading this who struggles with laxative abuse needs help, that they can find help with iaedp – international association of eating disorder professionals. Stopping laxatives can require some management medically until bodies sort things out.

  11. rose says:

    Ugh she’s the worst, will she never not try to sound self righteous and above everyone? She’s just as fake as the Kardashians.

  12. SuperStef says:

    I love her! Not only is she a great actress but she calls out BS such as photoshopping photos to unrealistic expectations, body shaming, and the laxative “flat tummy” crap the Kardashians hock on the regular. She’s refreshing and stands by what she says, learns from her mistakes, and doesn’t cower in the face of adversity.

  13. Jules says:

    This woman is grotesque.She lectures women on how to act and live just as arrogantly as the right-wing. She insists that people should declare their surgeries ; that is so intrusive. If someone has cancer or cosmetic surgery…it is their prerogative. The Kardashian’s are a big reason that curvy woman are celebrated. Continually using their names is exploitative. PS- They have never sold laxatives.