“Body positivity” has been a rallying cry for many celebrities and women’s organizations that claim being overweight is not unhealthy. Now one celebrity in particular wants to make “fat-shaming” — remarks intended to make someone feel bad over their weight — to be considered “hate speech.”
Actress Jameela Jamil from “The Good Place” announced last week that she would start a company based on her Instagram account, “I Weigh,” which focuses on body positivity. She announced her new company in a tweet last Wednesday and said one of the company’s “main goals is to work towards a policy change that means this way of talking about people’s bodies is considered hate speech.”
“Fat-phobia is real, it is pervasive and prevalent and is damaging the mental health of millions,” she added.
The tweet was a response to one from another Twitter user who posted photos from a tabloid depicting two female celebrities in bathing suits with captions. In one photo, Rebel Wilson wears a one-piece bathing suit with the caption: “The stand-up comedian, 29, made a big splash in Pitch Perfect, and does the same when she hits the surf!”
One might not necessarily see this as cruel, but the comment is made among other photos mocking celebrities for their looks, including Tara Reid’s “botched surgery.”
Another photo posted by the account shows “Glee” actress Lea Michele in a bikini bending over with the caption: "The 28-year-old singer’s most famous role was on Glee, but her biggest rolls are…” the photo cuts off. The image includes a circle around her torso and the words “roll player.”
In another tweet, Jamil denounced a different tabloid image calling Queen Latifah a “beached whale,” according to the Huffington Post.
“She’s a self made multimillionaire. A success in music, hosting and acting. A business woman. An icon who came up in a time when black women were so entirely unwelcome in media. Especially one with curves,” Jamil tweeted. “This is 100 percent hate speech.”
“Hate speech” may be a bit extreme and not something that could be dealt with legally, but Jamil’s campaign and new company is coming from her own experiences in the industry. In follow-up tweets, she pointed out that she spent years overweight due to steroids she took for her asthma and lost the weight naturally over five or six years. During that time she dealt with attacks on her weight and the eating disorders she has suffered as a result. Even before that, she tweeted, she had been airbrushed by magazines to make her appear less ethnic (Jamil’s father is Indian and her mother is Pakistani).
Jamil also noted that her Instagram account and her new company are not about “making women feel more better” but about “encouraging people to see beyond their exterior and celebrate attributes that aren’t about their aesthetics.”