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The Norseman

American actress uses platform to combat negatives self-image

*Warning: This article includes the topics of eating disorders*

Jameela Jamil is most known for her role on the American television series “The Good Place”, but her accomplishments reach much further than just her TV roles. She has used her fame and well-known voice from her acting career to become an activist and speak out on many topics, especially body positivity.

British actress, model, host, and activist Jameela Jamil was born and raised in London in a Pakistani and Indian family. Because of her ethnicity, she was bullied both physically and emotionally by her classmates at school. 

She did not have many friends and considers herself to have been very lonely. As a result of spending most of her free time by herself, she looked up to female celebrities. She aspired to look like them and when she noticed the weight loss advice they promoted, she started taking that advice, under the impression that she would achieve their image. 

When she was only 14, she began obsessing over her body and was later diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. At 15, Jamil began to model with an agency that instructed her to eat only bell peppers and that she should carry sugar around with her to consume when she felt she was going to faint. This resulted in her health continuing to deteriorate.

When she was 17, Jamil was hit by a car and endured a multitude of spine injuries. She was bedridden for about a year and unable to walk, using a wheelchair for an additional six months. 

During recovery, she gained 70 pounds which forced her to reconsider physical aspects of her health. Being unable to walk and completely relying on others to do simple tasks made her more grateful and appreciative of her body after recovery. 

While she still had a negative mindset of how she ‘should’ look, she understood the dangers of it and received the help she needed through therapy. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Jamil refers to the accident as “lifesaving” and realizes that it “quite literally knocked some sense into [her]”. 

At the age of 19, Jamil tried to return to modelling, but they told her she was now “too big”. This gave her a new understanding of the pressures that the world puts on females and provided her with a new desire to change the fashion industry. She became a radio host, but the show’s reach was not wide-spread.

After a breast-cancer scare in 2016, she decided to follow her dreams and move to California. She hadn’t lived there long before she was asked to audition for a role in “The Good Place”. 

She miraculously landed a leading part as “Tahani Al-Jamil” despite the fact that she had never acted before. The successful award winning show contributed to her fame and propelled her into an arena where she could reach a wide range of people as an activist.

Jamil focuses on the damage young girls endure that stems from celebrities promoting dietary and detoxifying products, after having been a victim herself. 

She particularly gained attention after leaving a disappointed comment on a sponsored Instagram post from Khloe Kardashian advertising “Flat Tummy shakes”. After seeing this, and more negativity on the social media platform, she decided that she needed to do more about it. 

In 2016, Jamil launched the “I Weigh” campaign on Instagram, which she describes as: “a movement… for us to feel valuable and see how amazing we are, and look past the flesh on our bones.” This campaign has resulted in changes such as Instagram making restrictions on detox and dietary advertisements. 

Now, these advertisements are not visible to underage users. However, Jamil is still trying to create a media consisting of complete honesty and self expression.

Jamil is currently 34 and has gained success through her career and more importantly her message. As of right now, her “I Weigh” mission is currently campaigning for two bills to reach the Senate and with Jameela Jamil’s commitment and dedication, there is ample possibility that they will.

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Maci Brown, Staff Writer
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