Since the confinement period began with the Coronavirus outbreak, I have realised that I reserve the time shortly before bedtime every Friday for Jameela Jamil’s ‘I Weigh Podcast,’ not simply because I am one of her biggest supporters and admirers, but because in some way, the episodes have taught me a new way to navigate life.
From previously relying on Disney movies and Teen rom-coms to help me grow and understand myself as a young woman, I now look to different individuals and social causes that inspire me to be a better person and come to terms with my own identity.
I believe that listening to the episodes of the podcast every week has taught me to look at issues through a different lens entirely—of realism, clarity and unabashed acceptance. I feel that the podcasts resonated with me a little differently especially after having entered my 20s, where the stakes seem to be a lot higher and the messiness of adult life and decision-making is finally starting to impact me.
Dissecting ‘I Weigh’
Jameela Jamil is known for her role as Tahani Al-Jamil in the comedy-drama, The Good Place. She has always been vocal about her opinions on the toxic diet cultures and pseudo-feminist attitudes we seem to be bombarded by on social media.
Apart from seeing a South-Asian woman, like myself doing her part for social advocacy and constantly growing and engaging, I believe that Jameela Jamil’s true appeal lies in her drive to be unapologetically and unabashedly herself, be it on her podcast, interviews or even her social media activity on Twitter and Instagram. Her vivacious energy and passion are truly inspiring as she continues to fight against the everyday injustices she sees in her own way. Jameela Jamil also uses her personal journeys to help her own audience understand and come to terms with their own problems.
The podcasts are an integral part of the ‘I Weigh’ wave, a trailblazing movement headed by Jameela Jamil herself. The name ‘I Weigh,’ contrary to what most people would think, is not a reflection of physical weight but self-worth, love and value. The movement itself sheds light on topics like feminism, body positivity, LGBTQIA+ issues and mental health and is truly recreating and redefining the current discourse on these crucial social problems. I have often found that the self-love and body positivity movements, while necessary, seem to impose an almost aggressive push towards self-acceptance. It seems to overlook the fact that self-reflection and feeling comfortable in your own skin is an essential part of it. The podcast, however, makes you reflect on your own life without imposing or forcing a concept, idea or a militant course of action to miraculously change your life, particularly when it comes to self-image and body positivity.
On Shame: Why It Matters
Of the plethora of issues covered by the podcast, what really struck me most was how the concept of shame is unpacked and dissected. Even though shame appears to be a rather blanket and broad term, it encompasses a whole variety of issues in the podcast. From the shame to truly come to terms with your identity, mental health issues, relationships, to the shame of the stigma that comes from being an individual from a marginalised community, the podcast is one of the truest depictions of how we channel societal shame into an impetus for personal as well as social change.
As a young South Asian woman myself, having recently entered my 20s and navigating the complex world of both academic, career and personal goals and challenges, I have had to unlearn internalised misogyny, insecurity and sexist ideals I was grown up with. As womxn, we are often on the receiving end of a constant backlash against gaining autonomy, be it over our bodies or our careers as well as aggravating and unavailing goals of being good ‘role models’ both in our personal as well as our professional lives.
For example, Jameela Jamil’s podcast episode with comedian Nicole Byer, in particular, deals with this concept at great length, where she talks about overcoming her own shame and self-worth when it came to her weight and body image. She speaks about having a ‘no-shame life’ and how she has changed her outlook and mindset about eating and weight loss.
Introducing The Guest Speakers of “I Weigh”
One of the many remarkable aspects of the podcast is the sheer variety of unique and inspiring individuals invited to speak about their personal and professional careers. The takeaways from each of these episodes shed light on the many complexities, dilemmas and even paradoxes when it comes to understanding and analysing these wide ranges of issues. The big issues and monsters of the world seem to somehow be a lot simpler to dissect when one puts into perspective, especially when understanding individualised experiences.
Also read: Feminists And The Kardashians: A Love-Hate Relationship
Many of the guests offer honest and genuine insights and reflections on their own personal issues. Comedian and Actress Aisling Bea reflected on the emotional trauma of mental health issues and how loneliness continues to be an issue in an internet and communication age. Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon spoke of her journey in Hollywood as well as the misogyny and double standards she fought throughout her career as well as her new mission to make women-centric movies and tell women’s stories through film.
She discussed her early stardom days and some of the personal struggles that she went through growing up and maturing as well as being in the spotlight. In addition, Billy Porter also took the chance to reflect on his journey in film and theatre, especially as an openly gay man back in the day. He recalls a childhood filled with the emotional wounds of trying to be ‘man enough’ when even those closest to him often refused to accept him for who he was.
The podcast also offers an insight into today’s social media and internet culture which is fraught with polarisation and divide between individuals and groups of people. Roxane Gay, a beloved feminist scholar and theorist whose work has influenced my own feminist values, spoke about her struggles with weight as well as her own sense of self. She specifically talks about the plight she faces being what she calls a ‘fat woman on the internet’ who is voraciously involved in political and social media discourse.
In light of the BLM Movement, pride month and the mounting importance of trans activism, the episodes with Alok Vaid-Menon in light of his pocketbook, Beyond The Gender Binary gave me much food for thought and helped me understand the true meaning of gender fluidity as well as how discussions and discourse must be shifted to that of gender-nonconforming and trans individuals as well. This is also a perfect complement to the next episode with British Trans model and activist, Munroe Bergdorf who helped shed light on the repressive methods the UK government is resorting to with the changes and recalcitrance toward the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) which prevents trans individuals from affirming their identity.
Moreover, one of the most recent episodes with actor and activist Matt McGorry, in the aftermath of the BLM movement stresses the need for positive and comprehensive allyship and what that implies for us, especially when societal ills like white supremacy still continues to shadow change. I believe that such lessons can be taken back and applied to many of the complex issues we see even in our own communities.
Overall, Jameela Jamil’s podcast helped me self-actualise some of my own personal struggles of self-worth, mental health and even dating life for that matter as so many women like myself continue to live in a polarising world where we are still defined by behaviour, image and conduct. To me, even though self-worth will be an arduous journey and constant work in progress, ‘I Weigh’ gives you a great deal of introspection and opportunity to further soul-search and understand yourself as a growing and constantly evolving individual.
Also read: The Triumphs And Nuances Of Actress Jameela Jamil’s Body-Positivity Activism
Perhaps, this might just help all of us begin on that journey in real earnest?
Featured Image Source: Stylist