The Good Place star took to social media to encourage followers to love their bodies during lockdown, to not “worry about their weight gain from no exercise and dietary change”, to simply just “get your sweatpants on and survive.”
Jameela Jamil is no stranger to the body positivity movement. Her social media campaign, I Weigh, has been a source of strength, comfort and empowerment since she launched the Instagram page in March 2018. Last week, she also launched the first episode of the I Weigh with Jameela Jamil podcast, with Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein as her first special guest.
She’s also a valiant defender of the body image online space, regularly calling out influencers on social media for promoting weight loss products and crafting thoughtful responses when celebrities like Kim Kardashian try to share diet tips during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you’re struggling with your weight and image in a moment of new foods, less exercise, and general loss of control,” she tweeted in response to Kardashian’s Instagram posts, “just try to breathe and know it is only your responsibility to stay safe and protect others, not to be thin.
On Monday night, The Good Place star took to social media again to share another important, empowering message to those struggling with body image right now.
Captioning an image of herself sitting in the back of a car, her dress riding up and exposing the tops of her thighs, she wrote, “Lot of DMs about body image shit. Lots of toxic influencers showing airbrushed photos and perpetuating weight loss rhetoric, as well as freaking people out about their weight gain from no exercise and dietary changes.
“Listen, try to just love your body for what it does, not for how it looks. Loving how it looks is too hard for some who need to unlearn all their self-hatred. Think of it as an amazing machine if you can. Even if it doesn’t work in all the ways you wish it would.
“Love what it Can do. And know even thin actresses are covered in lumps and bumps and stretch marks. You just forget that because of bullshit airbrushing. Don’t worry about losing weight right now in this moment… just survive.”
She later took to Twitter to tell her one million followers that it’s OK to not know how to feel right now.
“It’s ok to not watch the news sometimes,” she tweeted. “It is ok to protect your mental health. It is ok to not know how to feel. It is ok to lie under a blanket and listen to music and hide. You are not obliged to ingest all of the vitriol, exchanges of misinformation + terrifying projections.
She continued, “All you need to know is: everything is fucked, some places seem to be unfucking, and at some point this horror will all definitely end and we will have to get through the vast change in society together with as much patience, self love, and humanity as we can muster.”
One of her followers tweeted back a truly relatable response, saying, “I have spent the day eating pizza and my body weight in chocolate and I’m grateful for your message that it really doesn’t matter that I can’t fit into my pre lockdown trousers already. It’s making me feel a bit rubbish but it’s not forever.”
Jameela replied, “Yeah man, give a fuck! Get your sweatpants on and survive.”
It’s an important message, and one that this writer will certainly be sticking on a Post-It note and keeping on her desk. Since the coronavirus pandemic sent the nation into lockdown, eating disorder charities have seen a spike in the number of calls, with many struggling with the changes in their routine, eating and exercise habits.
While we stay indoors to slow the spread of coronavirus, protect the world around us and our NHS, it’s important not to forget to be kind to ourselves too, and look after our own mental health.
We don’t need to be productive, we don’t need to go on a mission of self-improvement, and we certainly don’t need to be worrying about losing weight. As many people will tell you on Twitter, “This is a global pandemic, not a bank holiday.”
We’re all in this together and, like Jameela says, “at some point this horror will all definitely end and we will have to get through the vast change in society together with as much patience, self love, and humanity as we can muster.”
Eating disorder charity Beat has set up a section on its website dedicated to giving help and support to people during the coronavirus pandemic.