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Jameela Jamil says she’s been airbrushed to “look white” on magazine covers

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Megan Murray
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Jameela Jamil has spoken out about having her ethnicity altered by airbrushing when she’s previously been photographed for magazine covers.

Jameela Jamil has long been our hero for calling out society’s damaging beauty standards, particularly through her I Weigh campaign that urges women to see their worth in their achievements and relationships, and not be reduced to their aesthetic. 

But in a powerful interview with Channel 4 News, Jamil has spoken about not only being victimised in the press about her weight, but having her ethnicity changed on magazine covers and the effect this has had on her mental health. 

Speaking to Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Jamil explains the extent of how her skin tone and features have been altered by photoshop, saying: “People have made look white in so many of the magazines and campaigns I’ve shot for. That hurts me. That hurts me from a cultural point of view. 

“People change my nose to make it look like a little Caucasian nose and they’ve changed the colour of my skin to make it lighter, to make me look more acceptable perhaps to a Caucasian audience.”

Explaining what this means to her, she continues: “It hurts my feelings. Airbrushing and changing my ethnicity is bad for my mental health. It’s not just bad for the mental health of the girls who are looking at it, it makes me then dislike what I’m seeing in the mirror. It sends a direct message from the editor to me, from whoever photoshops my image, to me, that I am not good enough as I am. 

Jamil carries on to explain that by having her images changed in this way, it makes her feel that she isn’t good enough as she is and that as well as this being dangerous for the readers to see, it’s also dangerous for women in her position, too.

One of the most prominent issues in this process according to Jamil is the lack of approval the celebrity is given over the pictures that are being published. She recalls how previously she’s been given no approval at all and relates this to a direct lack of power over her own image.

Jamil says that only now does she have “some sort of autonomy,” as she becomes more and more known for pushing back on these issues. 

Having autonomy over her image and never being airbrushed is something she discussed with us when we interviewed her in June.

Jamil explained that she actively tries to show parts of her body that society has deemed unattractive in order to encourage other women to see that this is normal, and break down the impenetrable celebrity image, saying: “I’ve got spots today because my period is due next week – I’m fine with the fact those might show up in the photoshoot. And I always show off my stretch marks, cannot stop getting my bingo wings out.”

Jamil’s popularity is only growing as she gives a voice to the millions of women who sick of the ridiculous visual standards we are held up to. We have no doubt that she will continue to be a force to be reckoned with and keep calling out issues like these. 

Images: Getty / Martin Schoeller

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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