Jameela Jamil: ‘You’re not called anti-male if you criticize Kanye or Trump’

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I really appreciate Jameela Jamil. She’s unapologetic about speaking up about things that matter to her, and says what she thinks. She’s not averse to being told that she’s wrong, or to admitting that she’s changed her opinion or deepened her understanding of an issue. She doesn’t offer defensive “Sorry you were offended” non-apologies. Over the summer, she gave an interview to Bustle, in which she criticized the Kardashians for selling dangerous weight-loss aids, and talked about unrealistic beauty expectations and tackling body-shaming. Jameela has given another candid interview, this time to Glamour, and she makes many of the same points. Love her or hate her, there’s never a question about what Jameela cares about. Here are some of the highlights from her interview, though the entire piece is worth a read:

On the Kardashians
I don’t hate those girls. I just want them to stop selling laxatives, and then I will get off that dick. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to attack anyone. But if you have a lot of power and influence and money, and you’re using yours irresponsibly, and other people aren’t aware that they’re being sold a lie, I’m gonna step on that dick.

On self esteem
I don’t really do self-esteem. I don’t have space for it in my brain. I feel like it just involves me still thinking about myself, which is tedious. And so I just don’t think about myself…. I follow my instincts.

I don’t think about my body ever. And because of that, I swear to God, I never would have been able to have this success that I have now. It opened up all this time because I spent hours a day thinking about my food.

On her activism
I’m calling people out in the same way that I’ve been called out. I don’t sit there and play the victim if I’ve done something wrong. I just take that as an opportunity to learn. I feel as though I’m being afforded the faith that I can do better

We still have a booming diet industry. We’re in an epidemic of teen suicide, teen eating disorders. The nice way doesn’t work. I have to get in people’s faces. I’m okay with pissing people off, as long as it creates change.

On being called anti-woman for calling out other women
You’re not called anti-male if you criticize Kanye West or Donald Trump and you’re a man. It’s quite condescending to imagine that women can’t take any criticism. And it’s dangerous because without criticism, we never know how to improve.

[From Glamour]

I appreciate that she’s discussing the double-standard of women being labeled anti-feminist for calling out other women, while men aren’t called “anti-men” for speaking out against other men. I usually hear the former argument as a criticism of liberal women by conservative women (who hate the term “feminist” and are attempting to use it against women they can’t stand who are calling them out on patriarchal BS). I also think, though, that Jameela is assuming that women (in general) care about criticism and are open to learning and changing. Maybe some are, but some probably aren’t. (Have the Kardashians stopped endorsing shady weight-loss aids?) So I can see how some people would find her eye-roll-inducing, because to them she’s needlessly preaching a lesson that they don’t need or want. But she’s also right that men don’t get called “anti-male” for criticizing men, so why are women labeled “anti-feminist” for similarly calling out other women for their nonsense?

Glamour wrote that Jameela is “on a crusade against shame.” I want that message on a t-shirt. It’s so important, so I got frustrated with some of how Jameela was articulating that. She’s interested in “body neutrality, even ambivalence,” and says, “I don’t think about my body ever.” I understand that she’s trying to get people to be less fixated on their weight and on dieting, but completely ignoring your body doesn’t make sense, either. (And is that really possible?) She also says that she wants to shift the conversation toward thinking about “mental health around our body.” I don’t see how we can do that without thinking about our bodies. The idea of not obsessing about our size/shape is important, but a healthy relationship with our bodies involves acknowledging them with compassion and common sense, not pretending that they don’t matter. Jameela’s messages are important, so while I knew what points she was trying to make, I got exasperated with how she was glossing over holes in her message.

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Note by CB: Jameela is wearing frozen peas on her face in the photo below because she just had oral surgery before she was scheduled for a panel discussion about a new show she’s hosting for TBS.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

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36 Responses to “Jameela Jamil: ‘You’re not called anti-male if you criticize Kanye or Trump’”

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  1. KNy says:

    I like her.
    Also, one of my fave moments in The Good Place is when her character mentions how her friend Taylor was rudely upstaged by her other friend Kanye who was defending her best friend Beyonce.

  2. Snowslow says:

    I understand exactly what she’s saying.
    I once asked my husband how many times he thought about his body and food in a day and he replied: “In a day?!”. Meaning he thinks about it once a week if at all. That was the beginning of my own “not thinking about my body”.
    I also try to look at what I like when I look in the mirror rather than going straight to what I don’t like a la Ashley Graham. Now I even liked my “cellulit” the other day. Sexy.
    So… Yeah, In understand saying not thinking about one’s body and also building a discourse around health and body positivity. It’s not a contradiction.
    Just think: how many times do you think about your body against the times you think about books, plants, colours, your friends, activism, climate, texting a friend you don’t speak to often, reading an article etc.

  3. Annabel says:

    I find her interview style a little tedious—there’s something kind of adolescent about going out of your way to be that crass—but I appreciate her point. I’m a writer. In my industry there’s this constant drumbeat of “we must support other woman!” and there’s a part of me that’s like, “seriously? I can’t disagree publicly with [other female author X] without being accused of being anti-feminist? can’t we indulge in stupid literary feuds like the guys do?”

  4. lucy2 says:

    She makes a good point about the anti stuff, and I appreciate her efforts to fight against shaming.

    I’m so sad the Good Place ends this year, but can’t wait to see the new season!

  5. lil_G says:

    Yes, thank you for bringing up how odd her ‘body ambivalence’ message is. Listened to her on Russell Brand’s podcast the other week and that bit really confused me. Perhaps it works for her, but It seems disingenuous to me …. I too am a victim of multiple assaults and in ED recovery, from a family of women who struggle similarly (we are always breaking a cycle it seems). Feeling embodied on my own terms, feeling the sun and the sea, feeling what my body can do, i.e. walking and stretching, dancing, having good, sober consensual sex—has been the most radically healing piece of the process. I am so grateful for therapy, for all of the thought and conversation that has helped me heal, but ultimately, healing happens in the body. Reclaiming my body as my own, as a site of peace and pleasure, feels like the whole point. Perhaps, ambivalence really works for her, but her kind of bloviating, comic style makes this unique take sound like an absolute. It’s a message that won’t work for the majority of people.

    • Snowslow says:

      I think that what you describe so beautifully is exactly what she means: “Feeling embodied on my own terms, feeling the sun and the sea, feeling what my body can do, i.e. walking and stretching, dancing, having good, sober consensual sex”>> this happens in your body but not while you think about it. And in order to promote it, you have to call it body positivity, i.e. doing things with your body rather than to it.

      • Kate says:

        Yes, well put! There’s a difference between awareness of how your body looks and how your body feels and when you’re so focused on the former it takes you out of yourself. I also think body ambivalence is more attainable for people than whatever you want to call it when you LOVE how you look (body positivity? self love?). Finding your imperfect body attractive and sexy is a wonderful goal, but requires a total shift of perspective which takes a lot of time and effort. Ambivalence about your shape is frankly easier and is still better than self loathing or self criticism.

      • lil_G says:

        Thank you snowslow ! The more I thought about it, the more I figured this meant being in your body not bound to an idea of it or an image of it. And absolutely Kate, ‘body positivity’ just feels like more disembodying capitalism when all is said and done. sigh

  6. Hikaru says:

    Her brand of activism is “criticizing” only and specifically the women that society has marked as low value and open for attacks because she knows they are the ones she can get away with “criticizing” because they are hated by most people anyway.

    • otaku fairy.... says:

      To be fair, she’s far from the only one guilty of that- toward straight women or toward women in the LGBT community. I appreciate the fact that she can admit to being wrong, and has really owned up to her problematic past in that regard, because it’s something that usually goes without apology. The bar is so low in that area that people typically double down.

    • KL says:

      The Kardashians are billionaires who continue to profit from, among other things, using their unprecedented reach and platforms to sell products that do direct harm.

      Actual “women that society has marked as low value” would be: poor women, women who are sex workers, trans women, etc, and especially if women from these categories are not also white.

      I think it’s easy to dismiss the Kardashians as easy targets, and if Jamil were going after them personally — their intelligence, their sex or romantic lives — I’d be condemning her with you. But as far as I can see, she’s targeting their business practices.

      So: you are defending the right of billionaires to do shady business, and equating those rights with the struggles of women who are… well, to quote the people you think need defending: “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”

      But yes, let’s defend the incredibly rich women with their own personal media empire, who have been deemed “low value” — i.e. people whose opinions will never affect them are sometimes jerks about their life choices. It’s attitudes like yours which validate Jamil’s focus, in my opinion. It’s possible to be the targets of misogyny and still do bad things, and if people really have trouble separating the two, then it deserves to be repeatedly called out.

      • Hikaru says:

        “So: you are defending the right of billionaires to do shady business…”

        Please quote where I do that. Thank you.

        As for this trend hopping faux activist, she doesn’t give a single damn about people who are actually dying, in her head and words it’s just being patriotic – so spare me your feelings on her “focus”.

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        KL, you’re right and it’s perfectly fine for Jameela and anyone else to call them out about their shady business dealings and other crappy things they do. I personally don’t like any of the Kardashians for a couple of reasons. Women who are considered ‘wh*res’ are marked as of lesser value (with the extra hierarchies you mentioned included). While income is a real thing, it’s also used as a shield sometimes for patriarchal (as well as racist, homophobic, etc.) entitlement – both by deplorables and by liberals who forget that misogyny, victim-blaming, and hate speech directed at public figures only impacts the individual public figure.
        It is possible and common to be targets of misogyny and do bad things, just like it’s possible to be the target of transphobia, classism, fat-shaming, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, or anything else. A lot of times though, less privileged targets of those groups pointing out that a public figure is a target of those things gets conflated with denying the bad things they also did or failing to acknowledge that others have it worse.

    • Jadedone says:

      I guess I feel it’s fair to criticize people who are shilling a product they dont use for financial gain. I think the Kardashians have a big influence ( just look at the Kylie lip challenge thing a few years back) and as such need to be aware of the impact they have on their fans. They are advertising dangerous products to their audience which unfortunately includes young girls and that really bothers me. They have such a tremendous influence and are already very wealthy but insist on still posting about these products, I think they could easily focus on their makeup collections, clothing collections and TV show to earn income instead of selling laxatives.

  7. Betsy says:

    I really like her. I like that she’s outspoken and I’d like to see her somewhere with Dr. Jen Gunter.

    Also “get off that dick”? This is a phrase with which I am completely unfamiliar. I mean, I get the meaning from context, but that’s kind of an eye popping phrase.

  8. Adrien says:

    I like her but I think a part of her activism is performative. She first gained public admiration when she went after the Kardashian and their laxatea shilling ways. Not everyone watches The Good Place. Since then, she became the unofficial spokesperson of body positivity. Sometimes people just want to look flawless for themselves and not exactly to be attractive to others.

  9. BANANIE says:

    I typically find people who call things “tedious” to be tedious themselves.

    Also can someone explain to me what not “doing” self-esteem means?? Does she just mean she has it naturally and doesn’t have to think about it? Or does she not even believe in the construct?

    • Snowslow says:

      sigh* I feel that suddenly became a Jamil apologist but she probably means that the wellness and self-care industry cater to your anxieties. She seems to be advocating for the replacement of certain thoughts and habits with others without too much focus on the self which is where the anxiety and self-hatred come from.
      She just seems very possessed and unapologetic which… seems to be rubbing people the wrong way? I like it as much as I hated Natacha Lyonne’s caustic fuckery in the other post so I guess it’s up to one’s own personality.

    • Piptopher says:

      she has a disability called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Her body ambivalence is likely linked to the fact that for her it is her body that is the primary source of pain. In my own EDS body I often feel caged by my own constant pain. I often wish I was a head too, free to think but not feel the agony of multiple joints dislocate.

  10. Cay says:

    It’s easy to call out the Kardashians, but she doesn’t call out her coworker Kristen Bell for being in the “wellness” industry. Bell shills “vitamins” on her Hello Bello site.

    As Betsy referenced above, refer to Dr. Jen Gunter about general supplements and vitamins: “There is large body of medical literature indicating supplements do nothing and may even be harmful. Multivitamins and supplements are not going to help you reverse aging, hack your genes (what ever the fuck that means, like really?), or help you safely lose weight. In fact you may be more likely to die if you take anti oxidant supplements.”

    Bell also touts CBD oil as helping her with her anxiety and depression. Again, Dr. Jen Gunter says that there is zero scientific evidence that CBD oil works for any mental or physical problem. “There are a lot of things Dr. Jen Gunter would like you to know. For starters, most supplements are a waste of money. CBD is a scam. Underwire bras do not cause cancer. You actually can get an IUD if you’ve never been pregnant. Your vagina, under no circumstances, should smell like a pina colada. And, for the love of yoni, please don’t shove a jade egg up there.”

    I am not trying to defend the Kardashians because, please. But JJ doesn’t seem to want to bite the hand that feeds her and call out her own coworker for her stupid “wellness” ideas that are based in “the feels” and not science.

    • KL says:

      To be clear: I dislike Bell’s business practices, so I’m not trying to defend them.

      But there is a HUGE difference between selling vitamins and CBD oil, which have mixed reception among medical experts (you seem a fan on Dr. Jen Gunter, which is cool? but she’s in no way the definitive authority) , and laxatives. I actually wouldn’t respect anyone without medical education, like Jamil, who started to preach on vitamins or CBD , because it’s not her field and there is so much dissent and discussion. There is NO discussion about laxative use for weight loss — anyone with half decent credentials agrees they are to be used with extreme caution to target specific concerns, and that dependency or long-term use is dangerous.

      It’s like the difference between selling a “magic potion” of saline solution and one of diluted bleach. The former probably works on a placebo effect, and while anything can be harmful in large quantities or to those at specific risks, it’s not known to be widely or consistently harmful. The latter is poison. It has useful properties and application, but this is a knowing misapplication leading to proven and consistent ill effect.

      • Cay says:

        Sure, CBD oil and supplements/vitamins can be seen as placebos, but then they need to be marketed as such. Right now, they are being marketed as if they will help a person with an ailment. If you have scientific/medical studies that say CBD oil is effective for any type of mental or physical ailment (other than as a placebo), then please send those studies my way.

        There’s an incredible section about placebos in the book “Cure” by Jo Marchmont. What is most interesting to me is the study that says that even when patients are told they are getting a placebo, the positive effects of a placebo can still work.

        There is, of course, a need for some supplements like iron if a person is low on iron, but supplements that say they help with energy, sleep, immunity, overall health, etc. are dishonest.

        Yes, you can say there is a HUGE difference in selling laxatives for diet, but “wellness” by celebrities is a huge problem. It’s not just Kristen Bell, but Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, (rumored to be starting her own line) Victoria Beckham, Lake Bell, Cindy Crawford, etc. are making money selling bogus items to people. I’m always amazed when I read comments from people who have purchased their items and they have purchased them only because of the celebrity endorsing them rather than an factual information about if they will help with an ailment.

        I think this is a much bigger discussion about the celebrity wellness epidemic happening in our culture because it’s about science versus non-science. (That’s a topic that is also happening with climate change and abortion.) I called out Kristen Bell specifically because I think it is easy to pick on the Kardashians because they have almost become non-people as they have instead become a brand/corporation. What is not as easy for someone like Jameela Jamil to do is to call out someone who she might need for a (current) or future job.

      • Snowslow says:

        I agree with you @Cay regarding th big problem of celebrities attaching their names to everything. How much money can you get? It’s mind blowing. It is irresponsible and the Kardashians are shilling obviously bad stuff whereas the vitamins are mainly innocuous stuff. I thin we are talking different kinds of problems here because Jameela Is a body positivity advocate and therefore she targets the Kardashians because that is their brand and her cause.
        However, it is really annoying to see celebrities everywhere and I loose a little bit of respect for each one of them if I see them selling anything (even Helen Mirren annoys me and it’s only make-up). They are taking jobs from models or actors who are trying to make a living! It reflects the general tendency of the economy of building empires to the detriment of real professionals who know what they’re doing.

      • lucy2 says:

        I agree there is a difference there too. But even so, I don’t know why anyone would buy vitamins from a celebrity’s website? Odd. Talk to your doctor, not a TV star.
        But the Kardashians selling laxatives, which can really mess a person up, under the guise of weight loss, is very disturbing, and I don’t mind anyone calling out such nonsense.

  11. Pixie says:

    I never really disagree with her messages but I can personally corroborate that she is being pretty hypocritical saying that she never plays the victim and welcomes critique. When the Kashmir issue blew up everywhere a few weeks ago, she uploaded a video on her Twitter talking about how she was NOT going to speak out about the issue, and how difficult it was for HER to keep being asked about it, and won’t people just respect how hard it is to be a celeb in the public eye. I @ed her to say she was centering herself and derailing a conversation about nuclear war and potential genocide and she ranted at me about how difficult this was for her and that I had NO idea what it is like to have such an important platform (I wasn’t expecting her to respond, I don’t have many Twitter followers). Anyway, so that’s why I don’t like her anymore lol

  12. Piptopher says:

    Jameela has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes easy joint dislocation and more or less constant pain. Body Neutrality is very much a movement for people whose body’s are a source of agony (literal agony). My own body is deteriorating slowly around me and yeah, I don’t feel so lovely and positive about it. I love the body positivity movement in general but a sticky note on the mirror telling me I’m beautiful and enough won’t get my hip joint back into its socket.

  13. Thea says:

    So instagram announced the other day that it won’t show those “detox” ads to anyone who is underage.

  14. Blerg says:

    “And so I just don’t think about myself…”
    Then she is the first actress in the history of the world not to.

  15. Blerg says:

    “And so I just don’t think about myself…”
    Then she is the first actress in the history of the world not to.