When someone makes a remarkably ignorant comment about another person's body, there's always that moment of surprise when you can't believe it's really happening, just before you return to Earth and remember that, unfortunately, these things happen all the freaking time. Personally, that's the exact reaction I had when I saw British actress Jameela Jamil's response to a body-shamer at the gym on Twitter. Jamil recounted the very cringeworthy interaction in a video she recorded and posted on social media, in which she described how some rando dude strolled up to her, unprompted, to give her his opinion about her body. Le sigh.
So here's how it all went down: After her workout, Jamil explained in the video, the man approached her, told her he'd noticed her before (ahem, creeper), then asked Jamil what type of exercise she was doing that day. That almost sounds harmless enough, right? Well, when the Netflix actress told him she had been cycling, as she explained it helps with her anxiety, the dude expressed that "it was a shame" that cycling was her chosen workout, because if she did "different things to improve her body, she could look so amazing."
I know. I'm livid, too, y'all. Just breathe. Or, you know, scream if you want to. I can't tell you what to do.
Anyway, while Jamil admitted that the interaction made her feel uncomfortable for obvious reasons, she still managed to take it in stride and respond gracefully — instead of, you know, punching him in the face, or throwing her sweaty gym towel at him, neither of which I really would've blamed her for doing, TBH.
Jamil wrote in her Twitter post,
When I told him I was happy with my body, he looked both surprised and slightly sorry for me. Never walk up to someone and tell them how much better they could look. You’re not being nice, you’re shaming them for the way they currently look. You’re also being extremely weird.
The Good Place actress also took this opportunity to make an important point about why some people don't even go to the gym in the first place: She explained in her video that it's people like the man who came up and body-shamed her that make others feel genuinely afraid of going to the gym, for fear of being judged for what they look like or how they're exercising. Jamil's response to that? "F*ck those people," she said in the video. Amen, girl.
The actress also made sure to point out that these types of jerks are 100 percent not worth your time or concern. If some rando gym rat is thinking about you and judging you like this, "they themselves are clearly slightly insecure," Jamil explained in her video, "which is why they’re even thinking about you like that. If they’re thinking about you like that, they’re thinking about themselves like that."
As it turns out, Jamil's Twitter video was so widely shared and supported that the actress subsequently wrote a more thorough piece about body-shaming at the gym for Huffington Post. In her article, Jamil wrote,
This is why I had never gone to a gym before. I had always associated most exercise with vanity and self-hatred. A lab people scurry off to, to “fix” their “flaws.” Somewhere I thought would be full of shallow people, who would judge me for my memory foam jiggle and strength of a newborn. Why would I go and willingly subject myself to public humiliation and discomfort, in a room that smells of feet, that I have paid too much money for? I don’t need that.
The actress then posed a million-dollar question about #fitnesslife and gyms in general:
Why is something that is so good for our mental health only ever marketed as something that can help us meet societally “acceptable” body shapes?
"Posing [exercise] as a 'fix,'" Jamil wrote, "makes people feel broken in some way."
This is far from the first time Jamil has dropped some serious truth bombs about BS beauty standards and bogus body-shaming. Along with regularly engaging in public conversations about body positivity (and that includes calling out the Kardashians for their "toxic influence on young girls"), the actress also has a body-pos Instagram account, @i_weigh. Jamil wrote in the account's Insta bio that the page is all about helping people "feel valuable" and showing followers how to "look beyond the flesh on our bones."
While, unfortunately, the body-shaming trolls out there will continue to do and say cruel, dumb things about other people's bodies like it's a job with a salary and benefits package, Jamil is the perfect example of why no one should ever feel like they have to sit idly by and accept such nonsense. Like Jamil said, "f*ck those people."