Tahani from The Good Place has quickly become a fan-favorite. She is portrayed by British actress Jameela Jamil, who uses her platform to celebrate body positivity and inclusivity.
Jameela Jamil is the actress behind Tahani in NBC’s The Good Place. While Kirsten Bell, Ted Danson and the whole cast are brilliant actors, Jameela Jamil won over people’s hearts through her portrayal of the very posh, name-dropping, British socialite. In real life, Jamil, 33, promotes self-love and inclusivity, mainly through social media and the I Weigh movement. She also fights against toxic representations of women in today ’s society.
Complicated teenage years
Jamil was born in the UK to an Indian father and a Pakistani mother. Born with hearing issues, she went through several operations and now hears only 50% in one ear and 70% in the other. Between the ages of 14 to 17, Jameela Jamil suffered from anorexia, something she believes is mainly due to the representation of women in the media. But a car accident at the age of 17 led to her being unable to walk for a while. She had to do physiotherapy and take steroids. This traumatic experience made her change her views on her body, accept it, and “literally knocked some sense into [her]”.
She went on to teach English while working as a model, journalist and photographer. She hosted the BBC Radio 1 show The Official Chart in 2012. Her life changed once more in 2016, when a breast cancer scare led her to pursue her dreams in Los Angeles. She had planned to a chance as a DJ and screenwriter, but randomly auditioned for The Good Place and got the part of Tahani, without any previous acting experience.
The I Weigh movement
Her newfound popularity allows her to speak out on issues she cares about and have a bigger reach. Jamil is very active on social media and very open about her struggles with her image and her weight. In 2018, she saw a picture that somebody had posted on Instagram of the Kardashian-Jenner girls with their respective weights plastered in the caption. Sick of seeing women being reduced to their weight, Jameela Jamil decided to answer with her own picture, including the sum of good things she “weighted” like “lovely relationship, great friends…”. The pouring support and amount of similar pictures she received from her followers led her to create the Instagram account @i_weigh, and the I Weigh movement.
But the Instagram account is not limited to weight. It became a place for inclusivity, celebrating differences and self-acceptance. Jameela Jamil also uses her fame to speak out on other issues, from LGBTQIA+ rights to abortion rights. Jamil also fights against the dangers of idealizing women on social media, when pictures are frequently completely airbrushed. The actress revealed she suffers from EDS 3, a genetic condition which affects her body and, for example, leaves scars after every little cut, as she explained in an Instagram post recently. The constant flow of flawless promotional pictures on social media can lead to body dysmorphia and eating disorder among young women. This is why Jamil only posts unretouched pictures of herself, pictures that show her stretch marks and imperfections. She also fights to banish heavily airbrushed promotional pictures of herself.
She has criticised “detox teas” that some celebrities love to promote because of the dangerous side effects. She often uses her own experience of following celebrity diets when she was a teenager, which caused lots of damage to her body, to make her point. She famously made Khloe Kardashian delete an Instagram post promoting a weight-loss product, by commenting that Khloe should warn her followers of the toxic side effects of the product and also admit that she has “a personal trainer, nutritionist, probable chef, and a surgeon to help her reach [her] perfect body goal”. She also created a petition to stop celebrity endorsement of diet products.
Article by Juliette Cardinale