Body-shamed TV actress Jameela Jamil is speaking out after a man she didn’t know came up to her at the gym to offer unsolicited advice on how she could “improve” her physique.
Who we are on the inside is way more important than how we look on the outside. But unfortunately, the world tells us otherwise. Sadly, through fashion, TV, movies, magazines, advertisements — you name it — our culture sets an expectation for how we are “supposed” to look.
This worldly standard not only impacts how people view themselves, but also how they view others. And the unrealistic expectation has wreaked all kinds of havoc: eating disorders, deep insecurities, and self-harm, just to name a few.
One of the terrible side effects of today’s “ideal” image is body shaming — the act of suggesting another person should feel ashamed of their body and how it looks.
Thankfully, many people are beginning to speak out against the damaging messages society is sending women today. English-born actress Jameela Jamil is one of those people. And after an awful body shaming experience at the gym, she’s reminding us all that encouragement is a far better motivation than shame.
Body-Shamed TV Actress Speaks Out
You can see Jameela Jamil on the NBC TV show The Good Place with Ted Danson and Kristen Bell.
As an actress and model, Jameela is surely no stranger to body shaming. But this unpleasant encounter didn’t happen on a Hollywood set or fashion shoot. It happened at the gym, somewhere meant to cultivate and encourage good, healthy habits.
People go to the gym for all different reasons, not solely to lose weight. But usually, the reason has something to do with getting healthier in one way or another.
Jameela works out as a way to help relieve her stress and anxiety. And after finishing up a cycling class, a man approached her to ask what work out she’d just been doing.
“He decided to tell me without prompt that he's seen me around and he always thinks ‘ah, what a shame, she could look so amazing,'” Jameela said.
The question from this stranger was completely unprompted. So was the “advice” he gave after Jameela explained she’d been to a cycling class to help with her anxiety.
"You're new here right?” the man Jameela describes as smiley and muscly asked. “I was watching you, and just thinking, Man she could look so amazing. With the right exercises you could really improve your body, you would look great."
Apparently, the man thought he was being helpful. But his comments suggested there was something wrong with how Jameela looks.
Actress’ Response To Body Shaming
Needless to say, Jameela was completely caught off-guard by the stranger’s unsolicited advice.
"When I told him I was happy with my body, he looked both surprised and slightly sorry for me," she said when opening up about the incident on Twitter. “Don't walk up to someone and impose your belief of what you think they should look like onto them. Don't do that to women, don't do that to men, don't do it to anyone.”
Thankfully, Jameela is comfortable with the way she looks and isn’t going to let a stranger change that.
"I'm comfortable, I enjoy my body, I enjoy my curves. I'm also, by the way, a US size 6 to 8. So if that's how I'm being spoken to in the gym you can imagine what people say to people who are larger than that...”
What bothered Jameela about the encounter was how devastating it could be to someone who is less secure. It could easily turn some people off from the gym entirely.
"Don't stop yourself from going to the gym because of these stupid people who, they themselves, are clearly slightly insecure," the body-shamed TV actress advised.
Be Comfortable Being You
The gym should be a place where people go to get healthy. Whether the goal is to get stronger, improve mental health, or lose weight, it should be a safe place for everyone. But fear of judgment or ridicule from others is something that often keeps people away from the gym.
Jameela issued a response to those who shame people at the gym (warning, it does contain some language). In it, she says,
“Shame is rarely a driving force towards good. For most of my life, I've only seen it lead people to eating too much or too little, and moving too much or too little. It rarely invites balance and wellbeing into someone's life. “
Jameela goes on to point out not everyone has to be defined by their looks. And she’s absolutely right.
God didn’t make us all the same. He designed us to be unique. He doesn’t want us comparing ourselves to others or spending our time worrying about what the world thinks of us.
I’m so glad there are actresses like Jameela who are speaking out against the culture of body shaming. Just as it says in Matthew 6: 25-24, don’t worry about the things of this world, but rather, seek first the kingdom of God!
h/t: Radio Times
Featured Image Credit: Thinkstock/STUDIOGRANDOUEST
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