Jameela Jamil on the 'gross' notion of privilege and how she uses hers for good

Kerry Justich
Jameela Jamil recently launched her latest petition against toxic diet products. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jameela Jamil recently launched her latest petition against toxic diet products. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jameela Jamil is doing right by her fans and followers with her efforts to put an end to body shaming and toxic masculinity — and she doesn’t care if you think she’s too privileged to do so.

The British actress and activist has long been outspoken about the dangers of public figures exposing fans and followers to impossible beauty standards constructed by photoshopping, plastic surgery and extreme dieting. And although she admits that those who oppose her message think that she’s too privileged to speak out, she tells Yahoo Lifestyle that her natural advantage is exactly why she’s doing what she’s doing.

“Sometimes they’re a bit ridiculous and say that I’m too privileged to speak out,” Jamil says of those who rival her message. “That is a f***ing pointless attitude that isn’t gonna get us anywhere because people who don’t have privilege get dismissed, people who do have privilege get dismissed for being too privileged, then who gets to speak about it?”

Jamil herself admits that the notion of privilege is “gross,” since it puts limitations on those who are accepted as the voice of a specific cause. But unlike others who are too “greedy” to push the boundaries of their opportunities, the 32-year-old is ready to bite the hand that feeds her in the hope that it allows for more space for others to join her.

“If you aren’t conventionally attractive or you aren’t privileged then people dismiss you as bitter and jealous. And so I have a position in which I have the key to the door, unfortunately. And that’s the gross thing about privilege,” she says. “But what would be worse is me not using that privilege to open that door for other people to come through. And so I think a lot of people in my position are scared, and I think mostly they’re just greedy and they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. But I’m gonna bite the hand off and throw it in the bin.”

Regardless of how driven she is to fight for her causes, Jamil still admits that speaking out about what she believes in can have her feeling a bit insecure. Most recently, she says that she was unsure about what the reaction would be to her now-viral petition against celebrities who promote “toxic diet products” on social media.

“I was like, ‘This will be really embarrassing if I only get 12 signatures,'” Jamil recalls from the moment that she first posted the petition’s link to her own Instagram account. “I didn’t expect it to get almost 100,000 within two days. So it’s been amazing. And it’s just amazing that it can hopefully help me with change.”

As of Monday afternoon, Jamil’s Change.org petition has over 132,000 signatures. For her, this just reassures that people everywhere have been waiting for an outlet to face the issues she’s tackling.

“It’s a sign that women are done, they’re fed up. All I ever do is give way for other people to show how angry they are,” she says of her platform. “There’s a whole load of people behind me that are also done.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Avon apologizes for body shaming women with ad saying, ‘Dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs)’
‘The Good Place’ star Jameela Jamil says she hopes celebrities who advertise detox teas ‘s*** their pants’
‘The Good Place’ star Jameela Jamil on fame double standards: We value men by their net worth and women by their weight

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