Jameela Jamil: It’s sick ‘to look at aging as anything other than a privilege’

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Jameela Jamil made headlines this week when she hit back at a troll who told her that she “was too old” to be wearing a particular outfit. In her response, Jameela also revealed that she’s had cancer twice, and pointed out that aging is a privilege that not everyone gets.

Jameela was also on The Daily Show recently to highlight her activism along with with promoting the final season of The Good Place. She talked to Trevor Noah about how she got her start in acting, some of the issues that matter to her, including toxic diet fads, and what she sees as the problem with “cancel culture.” You can watch that here, and some highlights are below.

On how she become “woke” [Trevor’s words]
I started in activism around 19. It’s an ongoing journey, it’s something you’re constantly learning. No one is perfectly woke. No one knows all the answers. Everything is constantly updating around us and we need to update alongside it. I call myself a feminist in progress. That helps me know that I always have more to do, more to learn and I can always be and do better.

“A lot of people see you as the face of the body positivity movement, but you don’t see yourself that way”
That movement is not for me. That movement is designed for women who are discriminated against in front of doctors and in our society because of their size. I am slender so I am not discriminated against because of my size. I believe in body liberation and body neutrality. I believe in not thinking about your body and I have the luxury of being able to do that because I’m not being constantly persecuted for my size.

I used to have an eating disorder, I still have body dysmorphia and I just get more things done in my day when I’m not thinking about my figure.

On if she’s tired of people correcting her
I only have the freedom that I have now because other people fought for women of color to be given opportunities that I’m now able to benefit from. I’m never tired of being corrected if I’m wrong. I have more to learn and I’m grateful that people don’t patronize me and they think that I can take criticism. All you can find is progress and not perfection. If you haven’t done irrevocable harm I think you should be allowed the opportunity to grow and do better.

[From The Daily Show]

Jameela’s comment that not everyone has the privilege of aging hits home and it would be great if more people thought about getting older in those terms: Not everybody gets that gift. Also: Jameela (and everyone) should feel free to wear whatever she pleases, and people will just have to deal. I’ve never understood people’s need to offer two cents about something that doesn’t affect them in the slightest. I’m glad that I’m not a public figure and don’t have to deal with that type of vitriol.

I’m also sad to hear that Jameela has had cancer, and not only once but twice! I’m so glad that she’s doing well today. Over the summer, she was honored by the Ehlers-Danlos Society with the Patient Advocate of The Year award, for her work on behalf of those who have EDS. I’m interested to see whether she devotes herself to more activism when The Good Place ends, or whether she continues to act. Trevor mentioned that The Good Place was her first acting gig, which I had forgotten. Either way, she’s sure to keep busy and to keep clapping back at her trolls, and thank goodness for that.

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37 Responses to “Jameela Jamil: It’s sick ‘to look at aging as anything other than a privilege’”

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  1. Toot says:

    She’s right.

  2. Marie says:

    I’m hoping she gets more roles after TGP wraps up. She continues to amaze on that show.

  3. janey says:

    She annoys me sometimes but overall I like her, I LOVE her message. I like her in The Good Place too. I hope she does more acting.

  4. Dark and Stormy says:

    I’ve never understood why people say ‘you’re too old to wear that’ . I definitely feel like once you turn 18 you can wear whatever you want for the rest of your life. If you want to dress like a goth when you’re 80 years old then go ahead and do it. Clothes are fun and I sort of hate those shows that tell you not to wear something you obviously love.

    • Sarah says:

      But that’s the problem: people think it’s fun and amazing when teens dress wild, and when 80 year olds dress wild (Vogue mag always said you can wear anything after the age of 70). It’s the ‘sad’ middle age years (see: Madonna) where the most censorious attitudes are aimed. And I’m sick of it.

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        I like the fact that Madonna doesn’t give in to that. Wear what you want at any age.

    • LaUnicaAngelina says:

      I agree with you. I love mini-skirts and plan on wearing them as long as I feel comfortable in them. I’m 39 now and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. To hell with anyone who tried to make others feel bad for what they wear.

  5. Mumbles says:

    Having known people who died young of cancer, I know they would have been thrilled to have made it to 50 rather than whine about how old they were getting. So I am really glad she said it.

  6. Mel says:

    I applaud her message. I lost my dad to cancer a month ago. He wasn’t « young » but still had many years to live considering life expectancy nowadays. It IS a privilege to grow old. My dad, and many more people who are sick or having been, fought very hard for each day more they got to have.
    I’m also one of those who want to see more of her after the Good Place ends (love the show!)

  7. Snowslow says:

    Wow. She is fierce. And I love the message of being an activist in progress. No one is perfect and I am sick of this moralising between people ultimately fighting for the same cause. Constructive and calm criticism is what we need.

  8. Esmom says:

    I think that message is great and maybe more people will think twice about being dismissive about older people if they consider the alternative to being old!

    It’s funny she framed it that way because just last week a friend of mine said something similar and it resonated with me, if not for the younger person she was mildly scolding. This young woman we met through a new activity said “Remind me of your names again — you middle-aged ladies are all interchangeable to me.” And my friend said something like “Um, sure, and be grateful if one day you might also have the privilege of being a middle-aged lady.” I would never have thought of that in the moment so I was glad she did!

    • Snowslow says:

      What a horrible thing to say. Misogyny has so many faces.

      Also, I hope you don’t mind me bringing up the rapper NF? Two of my sons listen to his music and he raps about OCD and mental health. Made me think of our exchanges here in CB about our children and your son in particular. I hope you don’t mind the suggestion, and that I am not crossing a line here.

      • Esmom says:

        Hi Snowslow, No, I have not heard of him (probably because I’m a generic middle aged lady, lol). I don’t mind the suggestion at all, in fact your kindness warms my heart. Thanks for the tip and for thinking of us! 🙂

      • Snowslow says:


    • otaku fairy.... says:

      You’re right. With any woman, we should let the mentality and behavior do the talking instead of being casually dismissive based on biology and looks (like age) like that. I like what she had to say here.

      • Isabelle says:

        Agreed, that’s the worry I have somewhat about the expression ‘Aunty Ji’. Sometimes it’s used to rightfully like you did to call out some of the same kind of behaviors ‘Hotep’ is used to call out. But sometimes I worry that men and conservatives will water it down to put down the clothing and bodies of older women.

  9. Anna says:

    Uhm… she’s 33. Which outfit could she possibly be too old to wear? Not that there’s any age when a person is too old to wear something.

  10. Starkiller says:

    She is absolutely correct on this. How many people are there who would’ve given anything for the chance to age.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I would have liked for my first husband to have been given the chance to age. To see his kids grow up. To see where his unwavering support helped me to get to. He died far, far, far too young.

  11. tealily says:

    “All you can find is progress and not perfection.” She has so many good things to say in this interview. Very wise.

  12. Christina says:

    On the interview with Trevor Noah, she mentioned something about her insides being damaged permanently or never being normal again, and I thought it was maybe because if the eating disorders. Now I understand that it’s probably from the cancer treatment.

    I adore her and wish that more public figures were like her. Being able to take constructive criticism and tolerance for others are critical to a civil society. I think she gets torn down a lot for being beautiful and for standing up for other women while doing it. It makes us judge her. I think it’s internalized misogyny when people have strong feelings against her. We all have reasons to like or dislike people, but she seems harmless to women and harmful to paternalism. I don’t know her, and maybe she’s a monster in private, but her public persona is positive, smart, and brave in my book. Maybe she will be like Shirley Temple and go into politics when she’s older. Shirley Temple Black became a diplomat. Can see Jamila doing something similar or more effective later in life.

  13. Savannah says:

    Laughed out loud at this: “I’ve never understood people’s need to offer two cents about something that doesn’t affect them in the slightest.”

    This is basically what Celebitchy is all about, judging people for their style, looks, opinion and life. Come on!

    • Christina says:

      True! Let’s be snarky about the clothes and dumb mistakes celebrities make. If Jamila makes mistakes, she’s fair game. The thing is that I don’t think she makes many mistakes she it comes to feminism and pulling for women.

  14. GogoRoboto says:

    I just adore her. I especially admire her activism and her message about aging. I lost two people very close to me at such young ages. One at 29, another at 17. Both would have given everything to have lived much longer than the time they were given.

  15. FHMom says:

    She is correct that aging is a Privelige that not everyone receives. I remind myself of this as I approach the wrong side of 50.

    • Trashaddict says:

      FHMom, “the wrong side of 50” that’s part of the brainwashing language of failure that’s put before women, and especially older women, every day. Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll know that. Watching the last presidential election night: “if Hilary loses this state” vs. “if Donald wins this state”….I can’t unhear or unsee that any more. Please remember for your own sanity, there is no “wrong side of 50”.

  16. Bosandi says:

    Wow I didn’t realize TGP was her first acting gig. I follow her on IG bc of her activism but I don’t know much about her personally. I like her even more now.

    Getting older is just the time you can really do what you want and not give two flips what others think. I hate when people place arbitrary rules on others.

  17. laura-j says:

    When I turned 40 I started saying I’m too old not to wear a bikini… If anyone doesn’t like how my body looks, they can stop looking at me.

    And it is so true that aging is privilege.

  18. Maplesbass says:

    Damn right about ageing being a privilege. I have incurable cancer and was given pretty crap life expectancy back in November. Luckily I’m shit hot at chemo and kicking it’s arse thanks to a clinical trial but I was major side eyeing a friend who was complaining about turning 40 in 3 years. If I get to my 40th in 4 years then I’ve beat the odds and I’m not wasting a second of it

  19. adastraperaspera says:

    I’m so glad she said this about aging. My dad died of a heart attack when he was just 48. He gave so much to us and our community–I can’t imagine how much more good he would have done if he’d had more time.

  20. MemphisMe says:

    I have EDS as does my brother. I LOVE her for bringing attention to it! Since she’s started speaking out about it I’ve had less people asking me what exactly it is. My skin cuts like paper, I once had to get stitches because my sister was playing around and tried to write on my leg with a marker… barely any pressure and it TORE my shin open so badly that I needed 20 stitches and a skin graft later on. My sister was five when this happened and now at 25 still feels guilty when she sees the scar. EDS isn’t a joke. I’ve had over 10000 stitches and staples in my life. I’ve been injured by everything from the soft part of the couch to getting sliced up by a seatbelt in a SMALL fender bender in a parking lot.

    • Nicole83 says:

      I also have eds along with my twin!
      Nice to “meet” a fellow EDSer 🙂
      My skin isn’t as fragile as yours (but if I scratch one time I bleed), my issues are joint dislocation, VERY easy bruising, pain (obviously), POTS, and slow healing. Yet I consider myself lucky bc I am not in a wheelchair… I bruise from my seatbelt, my shoes, if someone grabs my arm.
      I wish you well, it’s a very misunderstood disorder. Most people think we are “just stretchy”.

  21. Booney says:

    Can’t stand her and her fake feminism.

    • CC says:

      THANK YOU. Y’all are getting seriously duped if you think this chick isn’t calculated and disingenuous in all this social awareness. PUH-LEEZE.