Jameela Jamil – who is as a famous for I Weigh, her body positivity campaign, and social media activism as she is for her role as Tahani in The Good Place – has made it her business to call out the Kardashians out for advertising appetite suppressants and weight loss products on their own Instagram accounts.
It makes sense, then, that several of Jamil’s followers recently implored that she take Kim Kardashian to task over a photo of the reality TV personality squeezing into a very tight corset, her waist appearing impossibly small.
What doesn’t make sense, though, is the fact that Jamil – soon after posting her much-requested response – was branded “jealous”.
First, some context.
Shortly after receiving well over 1,000 messages about Kardashian’s corset photo, Jamil shared a lengthy Instagram address with her followers explaining why she “didn’t jump on it immediately”.
“The reason I didn’t jump on it immediately isn’t because I don’t think the post was damaging and disappointing. I do,” she said. “It’s because the fact that you’re all messaging me about it, shows my work is done.
“I was always trying to arm YOU with the knowledge to recognize for YOURSELVES that this is a bullshit expectation of women, developed by the patriarchy. If YOU know that it’s problematic, reductive and irresponsible for her to perpetuate such a heavily impossible beauty standard to her impressionable fans… then you’re empowered and conscious and don’t need me.”
Jamil went on to note that Kardashian herself is a victim of this mentality, adding that the KUWTK star “isn’t actively trying to harm you”. Despite this, though, Jamil still urged her followers to “unfollow the people who tell you things that hurt your self esteem.”
“Don’t let the debris of their damage spill out onto you,” she said. “Unfollow people/brands that don’t make you feel powerful and happy and grateful for what you have. You’re the boss and none of them are shit without you.”
“THE PATRIARCHY WANTS US TO FOCUS ON OUR WEIGHT INSTEAD OF POWER, EQUALITY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FREEDOM. FUCK ANYONE WHO ENCOURAGES THIS.BLOCK. MUTE. DELETE. REPEAT.”
You can see Jameela Jamil’s Instagram post in full for yourself below:
While Jamil’s post has received well over 100,000 ‘likes’ from Instagram followers, though, she also received a number of messages criticising her comments, too.
Addressing this directly in a second Instagram post, Jamil explained: “I don’t often receive criticism when I call out powerful people or companies who perpetuate eating disorder culture. But, when I do, it’s always the same two criticisms.”
Jamil went on to share that some people have informed her “you aren’t a feminist if you criticise other women,” noting that this is 100% incorrect.
“Men check each other constantly without being accused of being anti-men,” she said. “If a woman is doing something that hurts other women, or anyone for that matter, it is important we stop her for her sake, and the sake of others.”
The other criticism that Jamil has frequently seen hurled her way? That she’s “jealous”.
“‘You’re jealous,’” Jamil mused. “That’s a classic misogynist trope used particularly to silence women when they have a valid concern with another’s behaviour.
Jamil isn’t wrong, of course. The phrase “she’s just jealous” isn’t just reductive: it’s also more than a little sexist. And, while jealousy is not exclusive to female relationships, all you need do is take a glance at all those baseless celebrity ‘feud’ reports in the tabloids to know that it is regularly presented as a woman-to-woman phenomenon.
We have a duty to do better. To be smarter. To think before we DM. Because, in writing Jamil off as “jealous”, we are simultaneously dismissing her comments out of hand. And, in doing so, we aren’t just denying ourselves the opportunity to open up a constructive dialogue: we are also perpetuating this myth that women cannot get along.
As Sheryl Sandberg put it: “Women aren’t any meaner to women than men are to one another. Women are just expected to be nicer. We stereotype men as aggressive and women as kind. When women violate those stereotypes, we judge them harshly.”
You don’t have to agree with Jamil, by any means. But, rather than fall back on a lazy trope, try listening to what she’s saying. Interrogate her criticism. Consider her point of view.
Because then, and only then, are you allowed an opinion.