‘When I was fat no one listened to me’: Jameela Jamil won't stop calling out body shaming

Jameela Jamil and Brian Quinn of The Misery Index speak onstage during the TBS portion of the TCA Turner Winter Press Tour 2019 Presentation in February, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Turner)

Jameela Jamil is known for speaking her mind — she’s announced her plans to dismantle toxic masculinity, called out late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld for his history of body-shaming, told reigning social media queen Kim Kardashian to “f*** off,” and, just chastised Khloe Kardashian on Twitter for sponsoring meal replacement shakes.

But when The Good Place actress and activist made a guest appearance on the podcast Sooo Many White Guys (a spin-off of the hit show “Two Dope Queens”), hosted by comedian Phoebe Robinson, Jamil really let it rip.

“F***  this thing where I have to be likable and agreeable,” Jamil said on the WNYC podcast. “I’ve been through so many things if I’m not likable, if I’m a bit angry, or if I want to speak up sometimes, I’m a grown f***ing woman and I’m just going to do it.”

And that’s exactly what she did. In the episode, aptly titled, “Phoebe and Jameela Jamil Stop Being Polite,” Jamil got candid about her history with eating disorders, the treacherous pitfalls of her newfound fame, embracing the “angry woman” trope and more.

Read all the best highlights from Jamil’s interview below:

On dealing with the vicious UK paparazzi…

“I was constantly on medication, and that meant I was always struggling with my weight and got bullied for it.

“I lost weight, became a TV host, then gained weight again on steroids for my asthma and gained 75 pounds. I got fat-shamed so extraordinarily by UK press hunting me down, hiding outside my house, and taunting me everywhere I would go. Especially at the supermarket, they would ask me what I was gonna go to buy to eat in the hopes that I would cry.

“They love to get a sad photograph of a fat woman so they could paint the narrative that you’re thin and happy and fat and sad. Even though that was the happiest I’d ever been, the narrative around me was that I was fat, sad and a failure — so I became an activist then.”

On dealing with viral fame…

“Everything I tweet now becomes news. Because as a woman of color in particular, it’s always ‘hits back at,’ ‘bites back at,’ ‘slams’ — I’m always slamming everyone. But it’s like, I’m polite,  just English, I’m like a female Hugh Grant. They use this really violent language around brown women and even more so for black women.”

On embracing the “Angry Woman” trope…

“Now that I’m slim and I’m famous in America …everyone is listening to what I have to say. The problem is that when I was fat no one listened to me, and now that I’m slim again, people are, and that in itself defines the problem.

“[So] f*** this thing where I have to be likable and agreeable. I have been racially abused, I’ve been beaten up for being Pakistani, sexually abused for being just a woman. I’ve been through so many things if I’m not likable, if I’m a bit angry, or if I want to speak up sometimes, I’m a grown f***ing woman and I’m just going to do it.

“I refuse to shut up — I’d rather go down in flames than be complicit in this shιt and be silent.”

On managing her body dysmorphia…

“I still have body dysmorphia, which means I can’t see in the mirror what other people can see when they look at me…

“But, I had EMDR therapy. It’s the best thing I ever did. It’s for something that’s often used for post-traumatic stress but also works for compulsive eating disorders. What it did was reprogram my thoughts that are attached to my feelings so I stopped being afraid of food and I stop being afraid of fat when I would see it. I stopped the self-hating narrative— the bully in my head.”

On fighting for equality…

“If we continue to spend so much time thinking about our bodies and thinking about our aesthetics, we will not spend that valuable time thinking about how to grow our lives and to grow ourselves and to grow our families. And I think what’s dangerous about that is that we will never become equal to men if we spend this valuable time thinking about f***ing bullshιt. There’s so many different types of people out there, and they should all be allowed to feel proud of themselves — and so that’s all I’m fighting for.”

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