Jameela Jamil: the Activist we Need
It is 2019. We may as well be on the seventy-fourth wave of feminism.
And yet the policing of women’s bodies and the elevation of impossible standards from various commercial industries are still inescapable; in fact, their assimilation to today’s cultural consumption make them just that bit more insidious. In recent weeks, as we discussed here, British actress, presenter and activist Jameela Jamil has been equally coveted and critiqued for her commentary on the detrimental effects of seemingly innocuous social media advertisements on the psyche of the young modern woman. Some of her most inflammatory and controversial comments in a recent interview with Channel 4 included 'you’re selling us self-consciousness' and 'how much money do you need?' Jamil is addressing the alarming and increasing number of micro-celebrities and social media personalities that promote unhealthy ‘flat tummy’ beverages like Fit Tea, and countless other body-altering products.
Her scathing critique of celebrities like the Kardashians that she labels 'double agents for the patriarchy' have led many to dismiss her as yet another hysterical feminist placing blame on the patriarchy. But she has no time for such people. Her unrelenting determination to counter-balance the toxicity of female disempowerment in the media and celebrity culture has been more active since the backlash than it ever was before. All her social media are an ode to the female experience and the physicality of women in every shape, size and colour. They are also a public warning to those that profit from women’s insecurities. She most certainly has no time for the women that intentionally collude with the patriarchal structures of advertising and commodification of female bodily anxieties to further cement any kind of standard for the conditions of what a woman should look like.
On the subject of addressing women that are active participants in the continued disenfranchisement of other women, Jamil writes 'to anyone who thinks feminism means never calling other women out, you are wrong […] our gender does not protect you from being accountable for your bad behaviour'. There evidently exist innumerable ways to shape and cultivate your celebrity influence and platform, and while some choose to promote non-FDA approved glorified laxatives that set a toxic social tone for the female aesthetic, Jamil chose to empower, inform, and oh so justifiably critique. I, personally and for the good of cultural media consumption, prefer the latter.
[Photo credits: aitchisons, 'The Good Place' cast and crew visit San Diego Comic Con for a panel, CC BY 2.0.]