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Actress Jameela Jamil wants to use her platform to change the discussion around body image

The actress launched the “I Weigh” campaign as a way to inspire women to define themselves by their self-worth rather than their looks.
by Saleah Blancaflor /
Image: Jameela Jamil
Actor Jameela Jamil speaks on stage at the 2018 Girlboss Rally at Magic Box in Los Angeles on April 28, 2018.Rich Fury / Getty Images

Jameela Jamil may share some similarities (namely, their fashion sense and a love for "a good frock," the U.K.-born actress said) with her on-screen “The Good Place” character, but in real life, their personalities couldn’t be anymore different.

”Unlike her, I don’t care what anyone thinks about me,” Jamil said of Tahani Al-Jamil, the narcissitic British socialite she plays on the NBC comedy. “I’m not trying to impress anyone.”

I created this campaign so that if women are having a bad day or are down on themselves, they can just come to this account and be inspired. And so they know that there’s so much more that defines them than just their looks.

I created this campaign so that if women are having a bad day or are down on themselves, they can just come to this account and be inspired. And so they know that there’s so much more that defines them than just their looks.

That attitude has helped the former TV presenter and BBC Radio 1 DJ during her last 10 years working in media, where she's sought to be an advocate for body positivity.

Her convictions about self-image, she said, date back to when she was a young girl attending private school in England and was bullied because of her weight and the color of her skin. At 17, Jamil was in an accident that injured her spine, causing her to be bed-ridden for a year.

Those experiences have contributed to her journey toward regaining confidence, and her vocal stance against bullying and body shaming — which she isn't afraid to call out online.

In 2014, for example, she hosted the Body Confidence Awards in London, where she recalled a moment when she was recognized for being the first woman to host a show on BBC Radio 1, and how she had garnered more than 200,000 listeners.

But the articles that came out that same day ignored those accomplishments, she said, and focused instead on how she gained weight after being ill.

Image: Jameela Jamil
Actor and panelist Jameela Jamil attends 2018 Girlboss Rally at Magic Box in Los Angeles on April 28, 2018.Rich Fury / Getty Images

“I noticed how obsessed the media industry was with the way women looked,” Jamil said. “My whole career, I’ve had people tell me I was either too fat or too skinny or had to look a certain way.”

The obsession with body image is even more rampant now with the rise of social media, she added. Jamil said that when she joined Instagram, she saw several accounts focusing only on the weights of celebrities and models.

“I thought to myself, 'There needs to be someone out there with a platform who can say something about this,’ so I decided to step up and talk about it,” she said.

In March, Jamil launched her “I Weigh” campaign on Instagram, which aims to encourage women to define themselves by their values rather than their appearances. The concept, Jamil wrote in February, came about after she saw a photo on her Instagram Explore page of the Kardashians, which labeled how much each person weighed and asked people to share their weights too.

Jamil responded through a photo in her Stories filled with words representing what she believed gave her value — loving her job and speaking out for women's rights, among other attributes.

My whole career, I’ve had people tell me I was either too fat or too skinny or had to look a certain way.

My whole career, I’ve had people tell me I was either too fat or too skinny or had to look a certain way.

That post struck something with people around the world, and she was surprised when she began receiving messages from others sharing the things that gave them value and strength.

“I didn’t ask for anyone to send me anything,” Jamil said. “I just posted this picture and the messages started pouring in.”

On the @i_weigh Instagram account, which has attracted more than 25,000 followers since March, Jamil shares those posts.

“I created this campaign so that if women are having a bad day or are down on themselves, they can just come to this account and be inspired,” Jamil said. “And so they know that there’s so much more that defines them than just their looks.”

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