Jameela Jamil & Model Sara Sampaio’s Twitter Feud About Body Image & Modeling Got Intense

While it’s ultimately good for two people on opposing sides of an issue to try to work toward a mutual understanding, that doesn’t mean the process is always pretty. Good Place star Jameela Jamil and model Sara Sampaio’s Twitter feud over modeling and body image is a living example of why dialogue is important where complex topics and passionate opinions are concerned.

The row started after Jamil retweeted footage of a runway show featuring women of all sizes dancing. “Oh my god, this looks like the most fun, and not a long-starved terrified teenager in sight. Beautiful,” Jamil wrote. Sampaio, a model herself, took issue with the latter half of Jamil’s statement. “How about celebrating someone without bringing other people down? Calling runway models ‘long-starved terrified teenager’ is extremely offensive. From someone that is always preaching for body positivity this just screams hypocrisy,” Sampaio responded.

Jamil responded by pointing out that she hadn’t made a blanket generalization about models, yet there was an important point to be made on the subject. “I didn’t say all models in my tweet so try to calm down. But I will say there is a *vast* majority issue with young girls starving themselves, and using drugs and cocaine to control their weight, to meet the very small sample sizes,” Jamil fired back. “If you don’t see that, then you are in a bubble.”

Jamil also took the opportunity to clarify that she doesn’t preach body positivity. Rather, she champions “moving away from all talk of body, in order to combat our current pervasive issue of eating disorder culture, which is in NO small way perpetuated by the extreme thinness demanded of girls by the high fashion powers that be.”

Sampaio had a few more points of her own to make, though. “You didn’t say all models, sure, but you still chose to attack girls just so you can celebrate others,” she wrote. “Eating disorders, drugs and cocaine use aren’t a [sic] exclusive problem of models, it’s a huge problem in society as a whole. And when you talk like you know for sure majority of have eating disorders and drug problems, when that’s not the case.” Sampaio cited her personal experience in the modeling industry to bolster her assertion that the issues Jamil referred to aren’t, in her opinion, emblematic of the entire industry.

Although Sampaio made a fair argument that “it’s very simple to celebrate someone without having do [sic] drag other people,” Jamil doubled down on her stance about the modeling industry as a whole. “Sara, respectfully, I don’t think this is the hill to die on. This industry is unlike other industries in that it makes professionals out of children, and informs culture and society, and is a standard set for young people everywhere. Fashion is a dangerous industry for too many.”

Plus, said Jamil, just because something is uncomfortable to hear doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said. “We have to call out what is societally wrong/dangerous, however, whenever, we can, regardless of whether or not it is appropriate or comfortable,” she added. She reminded Sampaio that she, too, had been a model, knows many models and agents, and is familiar with the struggle against ongoing unrealistic body standards.

This feud went back and forth for quite some time. TBH, it’s probably still unfolding in subsequent comment threads. It’s worth a read if you have a few extra minutes in your day, so that you might get a fully formed picture of Jamil and Sampaio’s arguments. But ultimately, Sampaio felt she had been clear with her original point — she felt as though Jamil could have celebrated the inclusive runway show simply by sharing the footage and not using “diminishing words” about any other models. For her part, Jamil felt as though the stakes were simply too high to gloss over what she sees to be extremely problematic body image standards.

“I think you’re using your platform to defend something that is overwhelmingly negative for girls,” Jamil concluded. “That’s the only thing that is clear to me. Find a better cause to fight for, because this ain’t it. You can do more than this, you’re smart. Help girls, don’t normalize this.”

Clearly, the women did not find common ground. That doesn’t diminish the importance of conversations like this, though. Just because they didn’t end up agreeing doesn’t mean progress wasn’t made. Their heated dialogue raised awareness about image issues that are certainly at large in our culture, and likely sparked a few healthy debates outside of social media. And, as Jamil pointed out, if we aren’t talking about things, they’ll never change.

So, here’s to talking, ladies.

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