Goal 5: Gender Equality
'I Won't let fear silence me'
Why Jameela Jamila’s #nofilter feminism makes her the perfect Gender Equality advocate
By hannah rochell
23 february 2021
She’s the presenter-turned-actor we all fell in love with playing Tahani in HBO’s The Good Place, but Jameela Jamil is as well-known for being an equality and mental health advocate as she is for her on-screen talents. Whether it’s on Twitter or Instagram, she’s never afraid to call out people and behaviour that is damaging, bigoted or detrimental to women and those who identify as female.
For our exclusive film, our new #TOGETHERBAND ambassador Jameela reads a poem written by film-maker Harvey Marcus. With Jameela's I Weigh campaign at its core the poem is made up from some of her most powerful quotes from her Instagram feed. In celebration of International Women's Day and UN Global Goal 5: Gender Equality. Here are 5 top reasons why she’s feminist role model we'd all love to hang out with.
1. The #iweigh campaign
It started as a personal post to express what she “weighed” using attributes she liked about herself rather than kilos - ‘great friends’, ‘I love my job’, and ‘I’m financially independent’ were just three of them. But #iweigh promptly went viral with Jameela’s followers sending her pictures illustrating the equivalent “weight” for themselves. The I Weigh body positivity campaign is now a fully fledged movement with over 1 million followers on its Instagram account. Jameela, who suffered from an eating disorder for most of her youth, says she now doesn’t weigh herself on scales at all.
2. Her airbrushing policy
Jameela recently introduced a policy whereby she won’t allow pictures of her to be airbrushed. ‘I was given a whiter face, a little English nose and perfect skinny thighs. It makes me feel gross,’ she said in the February 2019 issue of Red Magazine, which featured her in natural totally untouched pictures. ‘I’m sorry to anyone who ever saw pictures of me like that and wanted to be thin like me.’ Jameela has also called for airbrushing to be made illegal, citing it as a ‘crime against women’.
3. She’s not afraid to call people out
Whether it’s journalists spreading hate in newspapers and online, or celebrities promoting weight-loss products on Instagram, Jameela has no problem naming and shaming those she sees doing damaging work. And while it’s always done with passion, Jameela has the class to not make it personal. ‘I don’t hate those girls,’ she told Glamour when speaking about her ongoing spat with the Kardashians. ‘I just want them to stop selling laxatives. I’m not trying to attack anyone.’
4. Her boyfriend is an equality advocate, too
Jameela has been dating the musician James Blake since 2015. When quizzed about whether Jameela inspired his latest album in 2019, he told Billboard magazine that she was more than inspiration - she was so involved working on it that she has a credit on it. And when asked if she joined him on tour, he had a brilliant answer. ‘She’s busy speaking at the U.N. and doing way more important shit than going around with me.’
'I won't let fear silence me'
5. Her passion comes from personal experience
As well as her work for gender equality, Jameela is also a disability and LGBTQ+ advocate. She recently disclosed a number of chronic illnesses that she suffers from herself, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS, which is notoriously difficult to diagnose and whose symptoms can change on a day-to-day basis, varying from stretchy skin and loose joints to ruptured arteries. In addition, she came out as queer in January. Whatever cause she is fighting, Jameela’s motivation comes from a place of honesty and personal experience.
I have murdered my shame
I won’t let fear silence me
It’s my body
No brown Barbie
I know my value
I am intellectually equal
I am bright
I can be difficult
I am not lucky to be in the room
I won’t be consumed by self-hate
There are no filters
Had enough of being who everyone else was telling me I should be
Raw, honest, flawed
Don’t deny yourself representation
I want to change the conversation on how we define our worth
I know my value
I will be heard
I don’t resonate with shame and fear
I will take that struggle and turn it into gold
Change the narrative
I don’t feel the pressure to conform
I’m trying to be the change
I’m going to get what’s fair
I will share
I won’t be demonised
I want to look like I’ve lived, laughed and loved
There won’t be any regrets
I am proud to be a woman
This article was originally published in March 2020