Jameela Jamil’s i_weigh Is the Instagram We All Need Right Now
Jameela Jamil, TV star, former fat person, body positivity activist, enthusiastic feminist, and all-around badass has a new project, and we love it. In response to the unhealthy, inauthentic images of female beauty on Instagram, Jamil created i_wiegh, a project meant to document and celebrate women as they really are.
She is soliciting real women to send in pictures of themselves — raw, real, unretouched pictures — along with a few adjectives or descriptors of themselves, to paint an accurate portrait of what those women really are. The images are striking in their authenticity — we don’t usually see images like this on social media. The women whose portraits appear on i_weigh are diverse in their body types, skin colors, and ages. They are also unafraid to reveal unflattering details about themselves, whether it’s mental health issues, other health issues, or taboos such as being an amputee or domestic violence survivor.
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Jamil personally has been open about her own experience being overweight when she was younger, and how an obsession with kilos impacted her self-confidence and enjoyment of life. She has also been vocal about the stretch marks on her breasts, and how, every time she does a photo shoot, makeup artists ask her if she’d like breast makeup to cover the marks; she refuses. Some of her recent personal Instagram posts show off those marks proudly.
With the launch of the i_weigh project, Jamil is taking her rejection of beauty norms right where it counts the most: into the social media needs that created a lot of these norms. Platforms that originally gathered steam because of their so-called authenticity have become nothing more than surreptitious marketing vehicles. And there’s no shortage of data proving how harmful it is, to self-confidence, sense of fulfillment, and mental health, to be constantly bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ bodies that are unattainable in real life. Jamil’s i_weigh project is the antithesis: it’s messy, unstructured, imperfect, and completely relatable — without the air quotes.
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Jamil is a successful movie star, and she is stunningly beautiful, so she’s not exactly the paragon of normal-ness. But she is also an outspoken critic of her celebrity peers who profit off of creating unrealistic and unhealthy beauty norms for women.
There have been critiques of Jamil’s i_weigh project — that it’s not radical enough, that it excludes women or color or fat women, that she is using a shallow interpretation of body positivity for personal gain — but compared to the rest of Instagram, frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s been a tough few months, and Jamil’s i_weigh project is exactly the feel-good #inspo our tired, scrolling fingers need.