Jameela Jamil and the fad diet industry

Aoife Horan

Jameela Jamil

Being a woman who got her start in the media industry in presenting and modelling, Jameela Jamil seems like an unlikely suspect to be taking on body image in the social media age, but this is what makes her the perfect candidate.

Jamil first came onto our screens on this side of the Atlantic presenting for T4 in 2009, taking over the role from infamous it girl and fashion icon Alexa Chung.

With little interest in being just a face, she dove head first into any opportunity that came her way making her the first ever female presenter of a chart show on BBC Radio 1 and bringing her across the Atlantic to star in the hit fantasy show “The Good Place”.

Jamil has taken over headlines in the past year since taking on an online battle with one of the biggest dynasties in the entertainment industry, the Kardashian’s.

She took to social media last February to express her distaste and upset with the Kardashian’s continual pushing of detox and tummy teas through advertisement to their largely young and impressionable audience, causing such a stir the Matriarch of the family, Kris, even responded herself with the sisters even taking down the posts following the outcry.

These detox products are often little more than laxatives and are wholly unregulated products, with an NBC opinion piece stating that the “Kardashian-Jameela Jamil feud has done more to expose detox tea lies than the FDA”.

In March of 2018, she accidentally set up a movement and subsequently created the Instagram account “i weigh” documenting images of people along with text that measures their value as people rather than their number on the scales and calling for regulation within the diet industry.

While her voice may be tenacious, scathing and unfaltering at times, with choice phrases sure to turn off listeners such as “Their pockets are lined with the blood and diarrhoea of teenage girls” and her reference to the Kardashian’s as “double agents for the patriarchy” it is with great bravery and nuance that Jamil has taken on the battle that she has.

Jamil herself has faced the throws of an eating disorder as a teenager and her teenage years were during the 1990’s where while Heroin Chic reigned supreme, social media was not there to bombard and indoctrinate young women into an ideal of what is or is not aesthetically acceptable.

In Ireland, mental illness is the number one health issue for children and adolescents and according to a 2017 Health Research Board report; eating disorders account for 14.4% of childhood and adolescent admissions, girls make up 89% of these admissions.

Her choice to use her platform for the benefit of those consuming her content as opposed to personal gain is not something to be undervalued and the work she has done and is continuing to do to make a change in an industry that so needs it is powerful.

Aoife Horan

Image Credit: Wikimedia