‘I’m not gonna preach loving yourself’: Jameela Jamil wants people to practice ‘body ambivalence’

Jameela Jamil is pushing her fight against body shaming forward and calling for "body ambivalence." (Photo: Getty Images)

In an era of body positivity and size inclusivityJameela Jamil is doing her part to take a different kind of approach to end body shaming and toxic dieting culture, and she’s calling it body ambivalence.

“I’m not gonna preach loving yourself,” Jamil tells Yahoo Lifestyle at theCurvyCon 2019. “I try to teach not thinking about it. I’m all about body neutrality. I almost teach body ambivalence.”

The perspective of the 33-year-old, who founded the I Weigh movement, is a result of her own history with eating disorders and body dysmorphia, which she developed as a teen and dealt with through her 20s. But instead of adopting a mindset of loving her body instead of hating it, Jamil has decided to not-so-simply forget about it.

“I don’t judge myself,” she says, “I have body dysmorphia so regardless of whatever you may see when you look at me, I can’t see that when I look in the mirror because I have a mental illness I guess. And so, I just have chosen to not engage with my appearance very much. I look in the mirror to do my eye makeup and then I take it off at night, and those are the two times I look in the mirror.”

She went on to explain that not giving herself the chance to analyze her appearance has allowed her to “get on with” the more important aspects of her life without thinking about if she’s worthy to do so or not. However, as a public figure, Jamil has also made sure that the industry she works in respects that approach as well by making sure all images of her remain unaltered.

In a recent social media post, she explained just how she was able to assert that standard after noticing that her back fat was removed from a promotional image for her NBC sitcom The Good Place. She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that it’s now in her contract that images of her shouldn’t be airbrushed for her own sake, as well as for the people who look up to her.

“It’s not just bad for other people looking at our pictures, it’s bad for us,” Jamil says of actresses who see themselves airbrushed. “If I see a picture of myself with a little caucasian nose and skinny thighs and skinny arms, I’m gonna start to expect that of myself in the mirror and that’s just not gonna happen. So I’m just setting myself up for failure, we all are.”

Now, she hopes that others do join her in not only asking that their photos remain untouched but also in publicizing photos with imperfections. Especially women like Demi Lovato, who Jamil says can make even more of an impact.

“A bit of back fat on a slim woman shouldn’t be as far as things go. Now we need some bigger women and we need to not airbrush their cellulite and we need to not airbrush everything. That’s why I love what Demi Lovato did this week,” Jamil says referencing Lovato’s recent Instagram post where she showed off her cellulite.

In the meantime, Jamil will continue to use her own privilege and platform for good.

“I’m trying to do my best to use my platform to help bring attention to [TheCurvyCon]. And that’s the only way that I can really help, is to use my privilege to kick the door open for other people,” she says. “We’re in a crisis, so gotta say it while I’ve got the platform.”

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