In a new interview to celebrate the first anniversary of her I Weigh platform, the pair talked body image and loving yourself.
The inspiration came after Jamil spotted a picture on Instagram’s explore page (“always a certified minefield for one’s self esteem,” she noted) of the Kardashian women annotated with their respective weights in kilograms.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she wrote in a blog post at the time. “What kind of crazed toxic nonsense is this… I snapped. I am just done… It’s so dangerous and disgusting. It’s so belittling and abusive.”
So she posted a selfie in retaliation in which she noted down all the elements of her life that mattered to her more than her weight, and that gave her a greater sense of self-worth and importance. These included her “lovely relationship”, her great friends, the fact that she laughs everyday, that she is financially independent courtesy of a job that she loves, that she speaks out for women’s rights and that she loves her “bingo wings”.
“I like myself in spite of EVERYTHING I’ve been taught by the media to hate myself about,” Jamil concluded. The image went viral and, as a result, Jamil launched her I Weigh community on Instagram, a chance for people to share images of themselves annotated with the things that they value and love about themselves. The Instagram account now has more than 435,000 followers, and was one of the reasons Jamil was named Stylist’s Woman of the Year at the 2019 Remarkable Women Awards.
To celebrate the anniversary of the movement, Jamil sat down for an in-depth interview with Sam Smith where the pair talked about body image, body positivity and self acceptance.
Both admitted that they have struggled with loving themselves over the years, thanks in part to being fatshamed by the tabloid media and, in Jamil’s case, an eating disorder. “My whole life I have struggled with body image,” Smith said. He said that following Jamil’s I Weigh platform has helped him talk about his body and his journey to self love over the years.
“Every holiday I’ve ever been on everyone’s by the pool and I have to take my T-shirt off and get in the pool,” Smith recalled. “It’s been a painful situation for me, ever since I was a kid.”
“I’ve not worn a swimsuit since I was 13 in public, so I know what you mean,” Jamil replied.
“I used to get my mum to write notes so that I wouldn’t have to go to swimming lessons when I was eight,” Smith said. But on a recent holiday he had the realisation that “I need to fight this. Because I can’t live like this anymore. Because it’s exhausting.”
Smith stressed to Jamil that this journey of self acceptance isn’t about simply reaching the end goal of self love. Loving yourself isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s the process of years and years of practice, of learning and growth and work every single day.
“Self love isn’t a… I think people think it’s a destination, that you’re going to reach a point where you go ‘F**k, I love myself! I don’t have to try anymore!’” Smith said. “It’s a practice. It’s a practice of life. If you do get sad and you get depressed, if you have body issues, you have to work at that every single day, all day, like you would anything. You have to work on it, you have to do stuff to help you, and there is help out there.”
Smith noted that books, Instagram accounts and movies have all been things that have helped him come to appreciate the way he looks more and more. As has changing the way he interacts with the media around him: Smith admitted that he used to only follow “hot guys” on Instagram, now his social media feeds look completely different.
Recently, Smith took part in a shirtless photoshoot in which he tried to “fight the f**k back” against the repressive body imagery that has caused him to hate the way he looks for so many years.
In the caption on the image, Smith alluded to the same ideas of working on self love and acceptance as he spoke about with Jamil.
“[I want to] reclaim my body and stop trying to change this chest and these hips and these curves that my mum and dad made and love so unconditionally,” Smith wrote. “Some may take this as narcissistic and showing off but if you knew how much courage it took to do this and the body trauma I have experienced as a kid you wouldn’t think those things. Thank you for helping me celebrate my body AS IT IS… I’ll always be at war with the bloody mirror but this shoot and this day was a step in the right f**king direction.”