I often wonder what the world would be like if everyone on social media showed us their hearts instead of their abs. Can you picture it? Would it trigger a wave of kindness? Would we start valuing people for things other than being hot? Would we raise a generation of kids who grow up wanting to be good people instead of good-looking people? Would it change our perceptions of what is beautiful in this world? Would Malala be the “it” girl and Jérôme Jarre, People’s Sexiest Man Alive?
It’s not totally impossible. But with the way things are going, yeah, it’s becoming impossible.
You see, every time we log onto social media (for most of us, that’s several times a day), we are bombarded with images of perfect abs and perfect bikini bodies. Perfect faces. Perfect lives. Perfect, flawless, everything. And, we are bombarded with images of how to get these perfect everythings. Weight-loss drinks! Skinny teas! Appetite-suppressant lollipops! Miracle creams! Miracle airbrushing apps! (And they all have DISCOUNT CODES so you CAN’T SAY NO because YOU’RE SAVING MONEY!)
This stuff isn’t restricted to the pages of glossy magazines anymore. It’s literally everywhere. Anyone can access it. Any time of the day. And the more we look at it, the more this crazy world of technology seems to know how to direct us to even more of the same thing. It’s no wonder eating disorders and mental health issues are on the rise. It’s non-stop. And it’s getting worse. And I’m hyperventilating just THINKING about it. And that’s why we really need Jameela Jamil in our lives right now. She is a beacon of hope in a social media sea full of, well, bullshit.
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1. She’s showing us there’s more to life than our looks:
If you follow The Good Place actress, you’ll already know all about her life positivity account @i_weigh, something she launched earlier this year because she was “fucking tired of seeing women just ignore what’s amazing about them and their lives and their achievements, just because they don’t have a bloody thigh gap.” And if you aren’t already following the page, go and do it now. Like, right now.
The page is a beautiful reminder that there is so much more to all of us. Jameela, who has been open about having an eating disorder as a teenager and being body-shamed by the media as an adult, started the movement because she was tired of a person’s worth being measured by how much they weigh. The account now has over 249 thousand followers and thousands of people (mostly women) have been contributing to it, proudly sharing details about who they are – their achievements, their abilities, their unique qualities, their purpose in life. YES, a community of people on social media, valuing themselves for things other than their looks!
And you know what happens when you follow an account like @i_weigh? You are thrown a LIFELINE people. A lifeline, to a whole new world of accounts with similar mindsets. (Now, I’m no tech person, but I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of techy thing that makes this happen.) Yes, you can break the cycle and avoid random bouts of hyperventilation! I followed @i_weigh, which lead me to @effyourbeautystandards and @nowrongwaymovement – all accounts encouraging women to love themselves as they are. All accounts featuring people of different colours, shapes and sizes. Instead of drowning in images of perfectly sculpted, airbrushed bodies, I get to see OTHER content I would otherwise be missing.
An example of Photoshop being weaponised against women: This is how we portray men in their 50s on magazine covers and women in their 50s. Look at the difference. Men who age are sexy in HD. Women mostly just shouldn’t dare age. Men can celebrate the inevitable, we must fear it. pic.twitter.com/XKykaZuiYf
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) December 2, 2018
2. She’s reminding us that we’re amazing, just the way we are:
Speaking of airbrushing, Jameela has taken a firm stand against it. In a Tweet earlier this week, she explains that by photoshopping everything, “we are making people almost allergic to the mere sight of normal human features.” And she’s right. We are.
How often do we see influencers or celebrities with cellulite or stretch marks or pores or wrinkles or – normal human features? And if, on the odd occasion, we do see these things, it’s usually via the trash mags humiliating a celebrity for – you guessed it, their normal human features. It’s never presented to us as an honest photo without the ridicule. So we are, without even realising it, conditioned to believe that these features are not right. That we MUST get rid of them or photoshop them or airbrush them.
And that’s why we need Jameela and all her normal human features in our lives: Because if we don’t get to see these features on celebrities, what chance do us mere mortals have of accepting our own normal human features?
Because, if we get to see her stretch marks in photo shoots, maybe just maybe we’ll think, hey, stretch marks aren’t so bad! And hey, so what if I have cellulite? So does Beyoncé! And hey, Kim’s got a zit! (I don’t know if she actually gets zits. Does she? The secret is safe with photoshop.)
But Jameela is pretty, I hear you say, she doesn’t need photoshop! Ok firstly, it’s the message behind her stance that’s important here, not the attractiveness of the person delivering the message. And secondly, yeah you’re right, she doesn’t need photoshop. So why are they photoshopping her?
The power of people in my position not editing things like stretch marks (as seen on my boobs), is that, thousands of people realize they are not freaks for having the same thing. I got THOUSANDS of msgs thanking me for posting this because it made them feel better and normal.❤️ pic.twitter.com/OL9ZRjJM7v
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) December 4, 2018
And guess what? Looks fade! Sure, at 26 years old, Jameela’s skin is still wrinkle-free and there’s not a grey hair in sight. But just wait a few more years and WE ALL KNOW that unless you’re Jennifer Lopez, it’s ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE. And if Jameela continues to ban airbrushing and other prominent figures follow her example, IMAGINE all the NORMAL HUMAN FEATURES we’ll get to see everyday!
I mean, just think for a moment how f***ed up kids are going to feel when they realise that real humans don’t have skin like satin? Or teeny tiny photoshopped waists? And what’s going to happen to all these perfectly airbrushed Insta-stars and celebrities in 5, 10, 20 years time? Will they continue looking flawless? Will they just keep airbrushing their photos and hope that their fans never see them in real life? Will they all end up having invasive and expensive cosmetic surgery procedures to keep them looking perfect? Are they all going to have mental breakdowns because they can’t keep up with the pressure? Who knows.
What I do know is that Jameela is keeping it real and by doing so, once again, she’s throwing us a lifeline. We can either take it and get on board, or continue drowning in that crazy sea of perfection.
3. She’s looking out for us, even when we think we don’t need it:
You may’ve noticed Jameela has a knack for calling out certain celebrities and influencers –
Give us the discount codes to your nutritionists, personal chefs, personal trainers, airbrushers and plastic surgeons you bloody liars. pic.twitter.com/2wes19cJdb
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 26, 2018
They got Cardi B on the laxative nonsense “detox” tea. GOD I hope all these celebrities all shit their pants in public, the way the poor women who buy this nonsense upon their recommendation do. Not that they actually take this shit. They just flog it because they need MORE MONEY pic.twitter.com/OhmTjjWVOp
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 24, 2018
By posting this sort of stuff, Jameela is pretty much that girlfriend staging an intervention as we scramble to find the latest discount code for the skinny tea. She’s the one reminding us that well, actually, you know what? We don’t need skinny tea! We can have normal tea!
She’s reminding us that these big celebrities are PAID to promote these products. That by consuming these products, we’re not actually going to end up looking anything like Kim Kardashian or Cardi B. That the reason Kim and Cardi are promoting these things is because the companies behind them have enough money to pay them.
She’s making us step back and look at the bigger picture. The context. Something that’s hard to do when you’re looking up to someone in a position of influence. And perhaps most importantly, she’s questioning the conscience of the companies behind the products as well as the celebrities who are willing to promote them:
“How much money do you need?” Jameela asks during an interview with Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy. “Really, how much money do you need? How much money do any of these huge influencers who are worth mllions and billions sometimes…why are they still promoting appetite-suppressant lollipops to young girls?….. And it’s not a fight against obesity. They have young, already slim girls in their adverts…The money is built on the blood and tears of young women who believe in them, who follow them and look up to them like the big sister they never had. It’s so upsetting, it feels like a betrayal against women and I will not be a part of it and I will not stop calling it out when I see it.”
Please don’t stop calling it out Jameela, because the moment you do, we’ll be scrambling to find those discount codes again.
I have to say, I love what she’s doing. It’s strange to see her being criticised at times when her intention is obviously good. And while we may still be far, FAR away from my fantasy of social media being filled with people showing us their hearts instead of their abs, Jameela is certainly taking things in the right direction.
What do you reckon?