Jameela Jamil Says She Isn't 'Interested in Feeling Beautiful' (Exclusive)
By Amy Lee
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For Jameela Jamil physical beauty and societal expectations are not a concern.
"I don’t ever really feel beautiful. Also, I’m not interested in feeling beautiful," The Good Place star, 33, told ET for our Unfiltered series. "I just like feeling like myself, which is normally when I’m lying in my boyfriend’s arms. I’m not interested in beauty terribly."
"I like fashion and makeup and I like playing with colors and I used to paint and so I think I find that quite fun, but yeah I never really feel beautiful. I prefer to feel funny or smart or happy," she added.
As the founder of social media movement I WEIGH, Jamil is an activist for body positivity, inclusivity and transparency.
"As women we're always told what we're capable of, which is not much, and that's why we're told we have to be so beautiful 'cause we have no other value. So I really like pushing against that and seeing what I can do -- what I'm capable of outside of a man's dictation of my value," Jamil shared.
The London native's determination rings true when she left her presenting career in the U.K. to move to California, after a breast cancer scare. Jamil fell into acting when she landed the role of Tahani Al-Jamil on The Good Place -- her first audition in L.A. --starring opposite Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.
"I don't really watch myself on camera because I have body dysmorphia so I find it a real struggle, so I have to kind of peek through my fingers almost at The Good Place when I'm watching it," she said. "But generally it's just exciting when I do see myself, to see the people I'm around mostly -- those are the ones I focus on, like, oh my god, I'm onscreen with Ted Danson or with Maya Rudolph or with Jim Carrey. I think those are the things that are magical about being on TV here. Generally, just to be in this industry is such a privilege, so lucky to do something so fun and get paid for it."
Despite the amazing opportunities Hollywood has brought her, Jamil knows the pressures of the industry all too well. Her body dysmorphia stems from when she was anorexic as a teen, which was caused by all the images the media inundated her with of what the entertainment and fashion industry deemed as the ideal body type.
"It's so ironic I'm now in the middle of an industry that messed me up so much when I was younger," Jamil said. "It made me feel so bad about myself. So I think that's why I rally so hard to undo all the damage that was done to me and try show all the nonsense, the smoke and mirrors of it all and just tell all of the truth that no one else knows."
Jamil in result eschews Photoshop and shares make-up free photos to ensure she's being transparent with her fans. And she is not hesitant in calling out celebs who send the wrong message. Jamil has criticized multiple stars and influencers for promoting diet and detox products on social media.
"I don't think they're bad people. I don't want them 'canceled.' I just want them to stop selling diet and detox products to kids and then I will, you know, get off their d*ck," Jamil stated.
With the audience she has amassed, Jamil uses her platform to unveil the deception that sometimes lies behind a pretty picture. I WEIGH celebrates the come-as-you-are mentality -- no matter what size, disability, skin color or sexual orientation.
"I WEIGH is a mental health movement. It's not just about the way that you look it's about the way that you feel," she explained. "We have been responsible just by telling people the truth. We're not out here saving anyone. We're just telling people the truth. It's definitely the thing that I'm proudest of in my life and my career. We have a responsibility of being transparent when we have this much privilege."
Jamil understands self acceptance and love takes time and it isn't easy. It can be overwhelming and not something one can embrace overnight.
"I think sometimes this whole body positivity and self-love thing is just a lot for people to have to achieve. It's a lot of pressure to have to love something that you hate or that society has taught you to hate and society actively hates," Jamil said.
She went on to explain that she currently embraces body neutrality.
"It's the ideal, but sometimes it's hard to just go straight to hatred from love so I prefer neutrality. That's where I'm at now. I can't love my body, but I can accept my body and just get on with it and not think about it and not worry about it as much," she added.
"I think that the only problem I have with this kind of 'love your body' movement is that it's still forcing us to stay trapped in the obsession of our bodies. It still means that we're thinking about them. And as a gender we're behind because we've been given all this extra homework to do. I think women in particular would have a lot to gain from thinking less about our bodies and more about our bank accounts and our social lives and our love lives and, you know, our families and our educations. I think that's where our priorities should lie if we're gonna catch up with men."
Watch Jamil's full Unfiltered interview in the video above and catch her in the series finale of The Good Place, which airs Jan. 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. The I WEIGH podcast is set to premiere in April.