Jameela Jamil Wants You To Throw All Your Self Expectations Out the Window

Jameela Jamil doesn’t know – but about 15 minutes before our interview, I was in full swing. Maybe that was a deadline, potentially a White House update, or a number of pretty harmless forces that may bother us in 2020. But, luckily for me, Jamil is well versed in the field of mental health. and tackle the problem. madness of this moment.

“I feel like I came in this year saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this whole thing. I’m going to be a boss slut, “” she admits over the phone. “Instead, I just tried not to be a dead bitch.” Jamil stops, lets out a light laugh, “I’m sorry, when I say dead bitch I don’t mean literally dead. What I mean is I was planning on half working myself until death. Now I feel my values ​​have just changed. I no longer want to work in the soil myself. “

Earlier this year, Jamil’s Emmy-nominated escape series The right place finished after four seasons. Then she signed on as a judge for HBO Max’s Legendary, a contest on voguing and ballroom culture. This was followed by controversy over her selection for the role, headlines over her public history of health issues and rumors of a mid-quarantine hangout with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

All the noise has made a socially distanced 2020 beneficial, says Jamil, for reconnecting with herself and those around her. “I realized I was missing so much because I was part of that breed of rats that we are all in,” she says. “I think women and women of color, in particular, are told we have a sprint, not a marathon.” On October 10, Jamil will be the keynote speaker at Maybelline New York’s Brave Together Mental Health virtual meeting. In partnership with I Weigh and the Lower East Side Girls Club, the initiative aims to de-stigmatize conversations about mental health, facilitate research and provide resources for those in difficulty.

Jamil, founder of I Weigh, opens up to ELLE about her own sanity, as a former internet troll, and the “freedom that all women deserve” to be themselves.


The collaboration between Maybelline, the Girls Club of New York and I Weigh for a mental health panel seems like a match made in heaven. What prompted you to get involved?

I am obsessed with talking about mental health. That’s why I started I Weigh. I have a whole podcast on this, but anyone who wants to talk to me about mental health, I will. I think it’s really important that young women are encouraged to talk about their mental health. It is the most important subject in the world.

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Why do you think it is so vital that people be open about their mental health issues?

If we can’t talk about it, we can’t face it. We can’t even see it. Then we cover it and keep it to ourselves and it can keep consuming us. (Author) Matt Haig once said that “depression is fake news”. So if you don’t go out and talk about it, you have no way of seeing what’s right and what’s wrong. It tells you that your life will never get better, that you don’t deserve love, and you don’t deserve to be happy. But you do. So I think it’s really important not to give him that power to freely rule over you.

How has your own mental health journey evolved over the years, especially as you have become more of a public figure?

I have a wonderful boyfriend and friends who support me and we all live together in what is basically a giant fraternity. So I’m very lucky to feel pretty stable, given the intensity of this industry, especially for a straightforward woman.

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Jamil and her boyfriend James Blake.

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When I was 22, I got famous in England and had a lot more trouble because I put on a happy face and pretended to be someone I wasn’t. So therefore, it made me feel very detached from myself. So that this time around I am at least who I am. If you love me or you don’t love me, this is the real me. It makes me feel closer to myself. I think it really helped and I feel less like I’m trying to meet anyone’s expectations. I am just completely genuine. I think it’s a freedom that all women deserve.

Why do you think it is even more important for women of color, a population that has historically had limited access to mental health care, to get these resources?

Because life is more difficult for them – especially black women, for that matter. I wish all women of color around the world would receive free therapy. I sincerely believe that this is what we need the most, the most deserved, because the world is more difficult to cross. I think that’s probably the case with all marginalized people. It is certainly something that would help us navigate a world that discriminates against us unfairly, and then sheds light on our own experience.

You’ve been so open about the toll that it can take to be canceled. How do you cope with negative comments or the press?

Listen, when it’s constructive criticism, I listen. And when it’s just people hanging out, I remember I was an internet troll. I was a good asshole on the internet and it was because I was miserable. I was unhappy and had no access to health care. I had no way of understanding my own feelings and tried to prey on strangers on the internet.

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Jamil and the cast of The right place.

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Because I remember how I felt, I now take it with a pinch of salt when I can see that someone is in pain. They probably pick on other people because they can’t actually face the people who hurt them in their real life. I guess it gives people a temporary sense of power for two seconds and it’s fleeting. And I remember it was fleeting. Sometimes I can get a little salty and try not to, but in general I don’t take it too personally now. I don’t really read the comments. It’s not really my business. Sometimes people just deal with their own shit on your timeline. It’s important to remember that the internet has become a mess because everyone is feeling bad right now.

How do you balance interacting with people and stifling the noise on social media?

It’s funny the media always report like I’m reacting when I’m really not. I never had any backlash. I have 90% of a truly loving, wonderful, supportive community that is really kind to me and kind to each other. I Weigh has so few trolls on it – you have quite a few vulnerable and marginalized people on this site. I find it’s just a constant flow of resources, with me being open, trying to make sure the conversation about mental health is never embarrassing. Because I’m not shy about talking about mine, people open up to me in my DMs. People come to tell me their biggest secrets, because they feel that I was not ashamed to open up.

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Many people are relieved that 2020 is over. What lesson will you learn from this year until 2021?

Just to be gentle with myself. Like, I have no expectations. I thought it was really weird the way everyone was like, ‘that’s right. Okay. I have to have the best body I have ever had or I have to get amazing at tennis or at tailoring. I’m not coming out of this year with abs or a new skill. I come away with less social skills, more social anxiety, just like messy hair. I’m really proud of myself for surviving. I think we should all be really proud of ourselves for making it through in one piece, given the kind of social, political, climatic, racial nightmare we’ve been in. So to come out of it even in one piece, or even four pieces, it’s so awesome. It is really important to take a step back and remember that we are only human beings, that we are tender, that we are delicate and that our sanity is fragile.

I haven’t taken a day off for three years. It’s crazy, I worked every weekend. I was touring across the country and lecturing, writing, working and activism while playing 18 hours a day. I was completely exhausted and exhausted – and for what? Like, “What’s our value system?” That kind of sack culture that I think infected so many of us meant we messed up our lives. And this year, finally spending real time with my boyfriend and having a dog together and talking to my friends and my brother, I realized that I was missing so much because I’m just in this rat race we’re in. all. I think women and women of color in particular, we are told that we have a sprint, not a marathon. Even though I knew better, it still held me. I think he’s realizing that the key to longevity is actually picking up your pace and taking care of yourself.

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Mental health is a lifelong journey. But what can a person do today to start working on themselves?

Listen to your inner monologue. The first thing I did, the most amazing change, was listen to my inner monologue. How do I talk to myself? Do I tell myself that I have to have a certain weight to be worthy of love or respect or a good job? Do I tell myself that I am not smart? That I don’t deserve respect? That I don’t deserve equality? Am I harassing myself? If I am, this must be the first place you stop. First you need to clean your house.

I would also recommend listening to podcasts, reading books to help you find words about how you are feeling. Because sometimes, especially when you’re young, you don’t even really understand all the time. It’s something everyone struggles with, and there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s no different having a sore throat, having something in your head that isn’t working properly. You should treat it the same.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Register for the Brave Together virtual meeting on mental health

In partnership with Crisis Text Line, Maybelline launched a text line with mental health resources and access to free, confidential counseling. Send “TOGETHER” to 741741.

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