‘The Good Place’ actress Jameela Jamil says she didn’t eat a meal for three years
While American audiences will most likely recognize actress Jameela Jamil from the NBC comedy The Good Place, Jamil has been a prominent part of British media for nearly a decade, hosting shows, appearing in charity fundraisers, and dabbling in fashion.
She has also been an outspoken advocate for body confidence and better awareness of eating disorders.
For the 32-year-old actress, the topic is deeply personal.
In a recent interview on the podcast “Ways to Change the World”, Jamil explained how her own experiences with eating disorders in her teenage years have motivated her to take action and create the ‘I Weigh’ campaign which encourages women to celebrate their talents and skills rather than their appearances.
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Blimey! I’m on the cover of tomorrow’s @guardian weekend magazine! I have loved them for such a long time and they were SO supportive and empowering in the interview and in our shoot. This has made my damn week. Grab a copy if you need something to read on the loo! #saynotoairbrushing #iweigh
As she explained to host Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Jameela had developed her eating disorder at a very young age. By her teenage years, she was completely avoiding meals to the point that she says went three years without eating a meal.
This led to more severe complications:
“I didn’t menstruate for three years because I was starving myself to fit into an ideal,” said Jamil.
The actress says she had many talents that she now holds dear and recognizes have helped her achieve success, but at the time, they all seemed secondary to keeping a perfect appearance.
“I was a smart kid, I was a scholarship child. I also had a music scholarship. I had all these different talents and gifts – none of which I thought were important, none of which I remotely cared about, because I still felt like I would never be good enough unless I weight six and a half stone [approximately 65 lbs.]”
Looking back, Jamil believes the media played a large part in the development of her eating disorder, saying the prevailing narrative “had no alternative.”
"People have made me look white in so many of the magazines and campaigns I've shot for… it hurts my feelings."
Jameela Jamil says cultural pressures to look a certain way led to an eating disorder in her teens, in the latest Ways to Change the World podcast. pic.twitter.com/umHrXTzcQA
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) August 29, 2018
“There were never any women who were celebrated for their intellect, they’re not given any attention in the press. I wasn’t reading about wonderful astronauts or scientists, or great musicians. I was just seeing highly sexualized popstars who were very, very skinny on my TV or I was seeing skeletal actresses whose weight was obsessively spoken about. All of my magazines were selling weight-loss products, or telling me to be thin, otherwise I wasn’t worth anything.”
In a twist of fate, Jamella credits a horrible car accident that broke her back for helping her recognize what her eating disorder was doing to her body and learn to celebrate her gifts.
She explained, “it forced me to change my relationship with my body and I also gained a lot of weight and I learned how to appreciate this body that I realized by then that I had taken hugely for granted and I had been actively hurting for so long.”
Now that she has fully recovered from both the damage of the car wreck and her eating disorder, Jameela is hoping to change the narrative around women and encourage other young women to celebrate their talents and achievements, rather than their bodies.
You can listen to the full podcast here or watch the episode in full below.
If you believe you or someone you love may be struggling with an eating disorder, please call Brookhaven for help at 888-298-HOPE (4673). We can answer any questions you have and find the right treatment plan for you.