She’s been open about struggling with an eating disorder when she was younger, but did you know that it’s Jameela Jamil’s ongoing health issues and body dysmorphia that inspire a lot of her activism? In a new interview alongside friend and comedian Celeste Barber for InStyle‘s December issue, Jamil shared why she feels compelled to “rally so aggressively” for body liberation and neutrality — and although the reason is sort of heartbreaking, it’s also important to hear.
In case you somehow managed to miss it, Jamil uses every opportunity she gets to speak out against toxic diet culture. She founded the “I Weigh” body neutrality movement. In other words, she fights hard to create space where women don’t have to feel defined by or shame over their bodies. And while Jamil has spoken openly about suffering from an eating disorder when she was younger, she explained to InStyle (and her like-minded friend Barber) why she refuses to be silenced.
“Most of my health problems came from what I did to myself while trying to be thin. I have a kidney that is always in trouble, and that’s literally because of all the detox and diet products I took. I have bone-density problems because I didn’t eat enough when I was in my teens and 20s. My heart is thinner than it should be because when you don’t eat enough, your body stretches muscle before it stretches fat, and your heart is a muscle,” she shared, adding, “So, I feel like it’s my responsibility to educate people.”
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Instagram brought comedian @celestebarber and actor-activist @jameelajamilofficial together. And now, the duo — pictured entwined on our December subscriber cover — is shaking up the status quo. “I think what has made us popular on social media is the fact that people are gravitating toward what makes them feel good rather than what makes them feel ashamed of themselves,” @jameelajamilofficial says. “It’s about authenticity and humor. That’s what we were trying to bring to the world.” More with these two at the link in bio. | Photographed by @ungano_agriodimas; Styled by @pennylovellstylist; Story by @cristobalita
Jamil elaborated, “That’s why I rally so aggressively — I’m living in the body I hurt because society told me that my size was the most important thing in the world, and it wasn’t.”
Today, Jamil has recovered from her eating disorder. But, as she pointed out, there are ongoing ramifications. In addition to the physical ones, the actor-activist also struggles with the psychological fall-out. “I [still] struggle with body dysmorphia, but it’s nothing compared with what it would’ve been if I hadn’t been forced to look at my body as this incredible machine that does so much for me, that I’m now so protective of,” she said.
For these reasons, Jamil feels compelled to help others understand how crucial it is to show gratitude to their own bodies. They do, well, everything for us and we so often treat them poorly or take them for granted. Or, as Jamil puts it, “We only get taught to think about the outside, never the inside, and it’s not right.”