Jameela Jamil is every bit as famous for being an activist and mental health advocate as she is an actor.
Her body positivity campaign began in 2018 when she set up the I Weigh account on Instagram in a bid to combat the ongoing body-shaming narrative of social media. On top of this, Jamil has spoken frankly about her own struggles with her sexuality and with a number of chronic health conditions, including partial deafness as a child, the inner-ear disorder labyrinthitis, numerous ear infections, a severe shellfish allergy, mercury poisoning, spinal damage from a car accident, a concussion “that caused atonal seizures,” Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, coeliac disease, a breast cancer scare, and cervical cancer.”
When The Good Place actor shared a plate of peanut butter-filled pretzels on her Instagram story, despite previously saying she suffered from a peanut allergy, several online trolls took it upon themselves to diagnose Jamil with Munchausen’s syndrome, a psychological disorder which sees someone pretends to be ill or deliberately produces symptoms of illness in themselves.
And, on 23 February, the actor had finally had enough. Taking to Twitter, Jamil shared a lengthy post which she said she was “tired of the bullying” and the “taunting over my mental and physical health”.
“Last week triggered me to a point of near death,” she wrote, responding directly to social media criticism regarding her chronic health conditions.
“I have a fragile past with suicide. If you live in pain and have to survive a lot, just to still be here, it’s agonising to have people tell you that you made it up. I would have preferred a happier, pain-free life with more fun and experiences rather than just struggling through month to month.”
Jamil, who named Piers Morgan as one of her tormentors, continued: “What happened to me was incredibly cruel and scary and it triggered a lot of people who live in the same situation as me.
The actor added that this would be her “final word on all the lies”.
“Let this be it,” she said firmly.
Unfortunately, though, Morgan was unwilling to let the matter lie.
Alongside a screenshot of the messages, which we’ve chosen not to share within this article, Morgan tweeted: “Jameela Jamil is having a lot to say about online harassment. So, in the interests of balance, here is a message Caroline Flack sent me last October after the same Jameela Jamil led an online pile-on against her regarding a new TV show she was doing.”
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Morgan really did, moments after citing his newfound ‘be kind’ mantra, attempt to launch another social media pile-on against Jamil “for the sake of balance”.
Jamil, at this point, could be forgiven for responding angrily. Instead, though, she calmly replied: “I simply said I found [Flack’s] show Surjury, not her, problematic for kids to watch. And that Love Island needed some more diversity.
“Both times, Caroline instigated debate with me even though I was not targeting or blaming her at all. I always just politely explained my point… [but] my criticising a show did not aim any hate at Caroline.”
The actor continued: “Using a dead woman who I was friends with, as a weapon to try to create further harassment for me as I’ve just explained publicly that I felt suicidal, is why [Morgan] is this industry’s most problematic.
“Out of respect for Caroline, I will not allow this conversation to carry on in which she can’t respond or speak for herself. She would be disgusted her personal messages were shared and weaponised against a woman, by a bullying parasite she thought was her friend.
“To sell your dead friends private messages for clicks is a low I’ve never imagined anyone capable of.”
Jamil’s fans soon rallied around the star, with one tweeting: “I’m sure my tweet will get lost but it sickens me that ITV does TV campaigns about mental health yet he’s a face of the company on our TVs daily representing them.”
Another added: “I know it’s hard to ignore it all, but please take a few days off of this app. Ask a friend you trust to go through your account and block people who keep harassing you. You have to look after yourself first. Sending you lots of love.”
And still one more said: “Take care of yourself. Forget the haters. Keep prospering and stay loved up, through life’s struggles. You owe them nothing.”
Morgan, however, insisted that he had been subjected to bullying as a result of Jamil’s response.
“If you genuinely believe Jameela Jamil is in ‘mental distress’, perhaps you should tell her to get off social media where she continues to spew disingenuous abuse about people, including me, to over one million followers,” he said, ignoring the fact that he himself uses his own social media platform to “spew disingenuous abuse”.
“The abuse I’m currently getting from her followers is disgusting.”
It’s worth noting here that Morgan’s advice – to have Jamil isolate herself from social media – is hypocritical at best, dangerous at worst.
As Seyi Akiwowo, founder of Glitch, previously told Stylist: “If I was being catcalled or harassed, and someone was trying to touch me up, would you tell me as a woman to not walk down that street, or to not go to work because it’s not safe?
“You don’t remove the person who is being targeted, you make that environment safer so that person is no longer a target.”
Of course, Morgan didn’t leave it there, either. Instead, he added that he was “delighted to see Jameela Jamil has miraculously found the strength from her myriad afflictions to brand me a ‘bullying parasite’”.
“This is such a valuable contribution to the #BeKind movement and I wish her well with her continued recovery from Hypocritical Twerp Syndrome,” he said.
It seems, in the wake of Flack’s suicide, Morgan is fully aware of social media’s anti-bullying campaign. And he himself has cited the #BeKind movement (which challenges us to think before we tweet), insisting he wants us to work against the “mindless, ill-informed, hypocritical abuse that’s made Twitter a disgusting cesspit for any public figure”.
In launching this new attack on Jamil, though, Morgan has undone all of his so-called good intentions. Remember: this is a woman who has said she is feeling emotionally fragile and suicidal. What has his response to this been?
To use the late Flack’s private messages as ammunition against her. To actively encourage his followers to blame Jamil for Flack’s death. To @ Jamil directly, so that his fans can more easily find her and fire messages in her direction. To claim that she “won’t be remembered at all” when she dies.
To bully and berate, as ever and always. Has he learned nothing from all of this?
Jamil, in a bid to protect her own mental health, has since determined to remove herself from the narrative entirely.
“I’m out,” she tweeted, alongside a peace hand emoji.
And it was a brilliant move. By denying him the attention he clearly craves, Jamil has made Morgan’s business of trolling far less lucrative. And now, hopefully, she’ll be left alone to find the peace she deserves during what is clearly a difficult time.
With that thought in mind, perhaps it’s time we all follow Jamil’s lead. Because, just as a fire goes out when we stop feeding it oxygen, so trolls run out of steam when we stop giving them attention.
Let’s not rise to the bait any longer.