The Fourth Estate

That’s the Tea

Through a progressive body-positive Instagram campaign, actress Jameela Jamil brings the critical construct of social media into the light.

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That’s the Tea

Phoebe Stein

I weigh: introvert, compassionate, unashamed. I weigh: anxiety, queer, disabled. I weigh: survivor, sarcastic, sensitive. I weigh Individual. Strong. Unapologetic.

To actress Jameela Jamil, most recognizable from the award-winning show “The Good Place,” the only thing worse than being told that you are not good enough is believing that you are not good enough.

Fed up with the constraints of a heteronormative, Caucasian-based audience who value a thin stomach over a sense of humor, Jamil began to take matters into her own hands, creating an atmosphere where what we weigh is not the most sacred thing about us.

It all began in March 2018, when Jamil posted a mirror-selfie on her Instagram story with the title “I Weigh.”

She followed with phrases “Lovely relationship” to “I like myself in spite of EVERYTHING I’ve been taught by the media to hate about myself.”

What started as a simple protest to the constraints and expectations of media led to a viral movement.

After seeing her story, thousands of women sent Jamil their own version of “I weigh.” She was caught off guard, but as a long-time advocate for body positive movements, realized that this was an opportunity to change the way women view themselves: “I’m f**king tired of seeing women just ignore what’s amazing about them and their lives and their achievements, just because they don’t have a bloody thigh gap.”

She responded to the messages by creating a platform to share them: an Instagram account called i_weigh. Through i_weigh Jamil shares the posts of women and men from all over the country, providing an opportunity for them to rise above the narrow-minded views of society by owning everything that makes them Individual.

Now with over 2,500 posts, i_weigh caught the attention of well-known media sources like the Independent, Nylon and BBC, landing Jamil an interview on “Late Night with Seth Myers.”

During the interview, Jamil at first jokes that her reasoning for starting i_weigh was to get into “The Good Place,” her shows version of heaven, before getting serious and explaining that she believes that women should judge themselves on their accomplishments rather than the numbers on a scale.

Months after the beginning of the account, Jamil’s campaign took off once again, gaining popularity due to her newest protest. It started with one of the most popular singers right now: Hip hop artist Cardi B.

With over 40 million followers, Cardi B’s influence spans from adults to impressionable teenagers. That is why, when Cardi posted an ad promoting detox tea, Jamil couldn’t help but be outraged.

Detox tea sounds harmless at first — a simple drink that helps women get in shape. Sure, there are healthier ways to lose weight, but tea can’t be too bad, right? Wrong. Detox tea is actually a form of laxatives, or, to put it less delicately, a drink that helps you to poop everything you consume.

While some celebrities may promote it in a positive light, it is anything but. Jamil decided to call out Cardi B as well as the other celebrities promoting it (the Kardashians, Iggy Azalea, Perez Hilton). Jamil targeted her main attack at Cardi B, telling the media: “They got Cardi B on the laxative nonsense ‘detox’ tea. GOD, I hope all these celebrities all sh*t their pants in public, the way the poor women who buy this nonsense upon their recommendation do.”

This response garnered the attention of the Cardi, who clapped back with the cheap out response: “I will never sh*t my pants cause there’s public bathrooms… oooo and bushes.” Taking the easy way out, Cardi decided to reply with humor rather than addressing the real issue—she didn’t deny the fact that the tea is a laxative.

Later, Jamil’s message was accompanied by a new protest: a video. In an attempt to bring further to light the terrible repercussions of the tea. At the beginning of the video, Jamil stands wearing a yellow dress, holding a brown drink. She starts the video by gesturing to the drink and saying, “I’ve only been taking it for three days and I’ve already lost 35 pounds, and I’ve got abs, but I’ve never done a day’s exercise in my life, and I haven’t been on a diet!” She goes on to both graphically and comically demonstrate the side effects of the tea.

Since the detox-tea scandal in 2018, Jamil has continued to fight for change in media—protesting against airbrushing and Photoshop; taking part in body-positive ad campaigns and calling out companies for their unrealistic ad campaigns.

This January, she called out Avon, a personal care and beauty company. They had begun to advertise for a product that removes cellulite —which is entirely unrealistic, as cellulite isn’t something that just goes away.

Avon went as far as to Photoshop out the stretch marks on the legs of the model in the ad. When Jamil called the company out, they recognized their wrong, and immediately withdrew the ad and product until they could more positively represent what the product’s effects were.

Jamil continues to make social media a new intrusive platform where women can feel accepted and welcomed, no matter what size or shape. She is in tune with the impacts that social media has on teens, as she struggled with anorexia when she was younger because of the unrealistic body images thrust upon consumers through media.

“All of my magazines were selling weight-loss products or telling me to be thin, otherwise I wasn’t worth anything,” said Jamil on this issue. She explains that this is precisely why she cares so much about the impacts of influencers and ads—Jamil lived through the effects it has on teens, and she knows just how damaging it can be.

Teenagers, especially females, are impressionable, and with social media’s rise of power in the last decade, the pressure is on to match unrealistic standards. That’s why Jamil’s campaign is so important: she’s giving a voice to the unspoken issues within our generation, calling out the toxic influencers and creating a platform for teens to recognize their worth… without detox tea making them skinnier.

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