Jameela Jamil Has Had Enough of Celebs Promoting Rapid Weight Loss—Here's What She Had to Say

a photo of Jameela Jamil
a photo of Jameela Jamil

Craig Barritt/Getty Images

It all started with a headline in the New York Post last week: "Bye bye booty: Heroin chic is back." The Post article, which rounds up recent runway appearances and social media trends as evidence that the 1990s obsession with rail-thin androgyny is on its way back to the mainstream, received backlash for its insistence that certain bodies can be trendier than others—and Jameela Jamil was prepared with the most searing commentary of all.

The Good Place actor and host took to Instagram with front-facing videos to try and set the record straight on how dangerous it is to herald unhealthy, rapid weight loss as a hot new trend.

Related: How Much Weight Can You Really Lose in a Month?

"We tried this before in the '90s, and millions of people developed eating disorders," Jamil says in her first post. "I had one for like 20 years. We're not doing this again. We're not going back. Our bodies are not trends."

About 9% of the world population is affected by an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Studies done in the 1990s and early 2000s, at the height of heroin chic's reign of terror, indicated that up to 60% of fourth-grade girls wanted to lose weight and that more than a third of adolescent girls participated in unhealthy weight-loss strategies, like crash dieting, taking diet pills and vomiting.

"It's so disingenuous," Jamil says of heroin chic in an Instagram video. "Just call it 'hungry chic.' They want you to look hungry. They're not even interested in you looking like a naturally skinny or athletic person. They want you to have dark circles under your eyes, like you're dying, like you haven't eaten a meal in months."

Jamil goes on to say that she knows of celebrities who have become impatient with weight loss, trying to lose unhealthy amounts of weight too quickly by using diet pills and weight-loss injections. Jamil points out that a lot of these drugs are typically used by folks with diabetes to manage their blood sugar—something that's harder to do now that the weight-loss craze has caused shortages. Our sibling brand Health reports that Ozempic, an injectable type 2 diabetes drug, has become less accessible since going viral as a weight-loss fad on social media.

Related: I'm a Dietitian and Here's Why I Don't Recommend Weight-Loss Supplements

As Jamil says, the side effects can be "immense" when people misuse drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy, an injectable meant for chronic weight management that is also experiencing a shortage. Ozempic's most common side effects include vomiting and stomach pain, but more serious side effects can include pancreatitis, low blood sugar, kidney failure and even gallbladder problems.

"Who are we doing this for?" Jamil says. "Who is worth any of this? What is worth any of this? Can't we just make the f—king clothes bigger? Can't we just let people live? Can't we let women eat and just enjoy a meal without worrying about what they're going to look like, what they're going to weigh tomorrow, how much they're going to have to punish themselves because of it?"

And while rapid weight loss is never healthy, folks using Ozempic to lose weight are also negatively affecting the health and wellness of others. Using a drug that's already in shortage, like Ozempic, only makes it harder for the people who really need that medicine to get access to it—and that means there's an ethical problem as well as a health problem.

"We have to stop putting our health and now the health of others on the line for something as irrelevant as obedient forced thinness," Jamil wrote in an Instagram caption. We couldn't agree more.

Of course, Jamil wasn't the only person to call out the Post for their piece, and author Chrissy King was quick to point out that the language in the Post's headline and article—dissing "curvy bodies" and "big butts"—is textbook racism.

"I want to point out the thing most people are missing: The anti-Blackness and white supremacy wrapped up into the idea of booties being out of style now," King wrote on Instagram. "One of the things I discuss in The Body Liberation Project is that many BIPOC, Black women in particular, grew up with naturally big butts and big lips, features that weren't praised until society deemed them fashionable or attractive. In fact, it was often quite the opposite. Black girls were often berated and teased for exactly these attributes until dominant culture deemed them 'in style.'"

It's worth noting that the Post calls out Kim Kardashian as being on the forefront of bringing back heroin chic, which would mark a change from her previous look—one that was often criticized for being racially appropriative, including accusations of blackface and appropriating Black hairstyles.

"And now, dominant culture has decided it's done with big butts and they aren't 'in style' anymore," King wrote in her post. "Black and Brown women can't take off their butts because it's no longer 'popular.' Our bodies aren't costumes to be put on and discarded when White folks decide they aren't fashionable anymore."

If heroin chic continues its comeback, the best thing you can do is try to ignore the pressure to lose weight and instead continue eating a wide variety of healthy foods and getting exercise however you enjoy it. Rapid weight loss isn't a wise choice, especially if you're going to misuse pharmaceuticals to do it. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association Hotline is available for call or text 24/7 at (800) 931-2237.