Times are changing and the Kardashians need to keep up
Why we stand with Jameela Jamil in her fight to expose irresponsible influencers.
By Shilpa Caute
Jameela Jamil recently made headlines after calling out Khloe Kardashian’s promotion of ‘flat tummy’ dietary products, describing the Kardashians as “double agents of patriarchy”.
Jameela, mainly recognised as an actress, presenter and model, launched the I Weigh movement last year, solidifying her role as an activist. The movement battles dangerous beauty standards promoted daily in magazines and social media. It rejects body shaming and the validation of women subject to weight or physical appearance, protecting younger generations from exposure to such damaging messages.
The I Weigh campaign has gained enormous support through social media, the Instagram page now has over half a million followers. Jameela has, however, equally received a negative response - criticised for her so-called 'aggressive' outing of irresponsible behaviour from certain celebrities. This raises the issue of tone policing within feminist activism. As a feminist, is Jameela justified in making online attacks towards the Kardashians? Do her comments patronise and belittle other women in an unhelpful and non-constructive way, or is she simply highlighting something that needs to be exposed?
The truth is activism isn't and can't always be all peace and love. The anger and emotion that fuels campaigns like Jameela’s is what gets voices heard; it should not necessarily be regarded as something negative. The unhealthy and dangerous focus on appearance and weight perpetuated through media platforms are feminist issues, but also social issues. If there aren’t activists relentlessly battling these problems, nothing will change. It's important that we channel our anger with issues such as these to constructively fuel our arguments for change. The passion this alludes is what attracts attention and calls for action.
The Kardashians are especially problematic in their promotion of dietary aids and products due to the enormity of influence they have on social media.
Khloe and Kim Kardashian hold nearly 200 million followers between them. Jameela criticised Khloe Kardashian following her advertisement post for the Flat Tummy Co’s meal replacement shakes, calling her a “terrible and toxic influence on young girls”. Kim has promoted similar products, which cause diarrhoea as a method of weight loss. Instead of using their fame to promote healthy ideals, the Kardashians are essentially making a living off society’s oppression of women; selling unrealistic standards which leave young girls desperately yearning for unattainable ‘goals’ in their appearance.
Just two months ago, Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, spoke out on the dangers of influential celebrities promoting diet supplements, linking them to mental health issues and eating disorders. Young and vulnerable people have unprecedented access to social media and are bombarded by damaging messages regarding societal expectations for weight and appearance.
Kim and Khloe’s responses to Jameela proved to be even more troubling, unapologetic and unempathetic.
Khloe stated that she “[doesn't] live in that negative energy space. Ninety percent of people will be really excited about the family the journey and who we are”. Kim added “if there is work that is really easy that doesn’t take away from our kids, that’s like a huge priority, if someone was faced with the same job opportunities, I think they would maybe consider.” Ironically, these responses only reinforce Jameela’s original statement, which brands the Kardashians as “double agents”, who care more about making money than about their effect on other women. Kim herself has daughters and is totally ignorant to the fact that this work would “take away from her kids” if it eventually began to damage their mental health. Neither of them address the issues raised, and Kim’s statement is a poor excuse considering that their wealth is globally acknowledged. It's a known fact that their wealth is not at all dependent on these advertisements: only a few months ago, Kim rented a private 747 plane costing nearly 4.4 million dollars. If they’re making money, well then who cares?
Some have accused Jameela Jamil of shaming the Kardashians.
It is important to remember that patriarchy is not always about men. As a society we need to face the reality that women’s behaviour can also feed into patriarchal systems. Just because we are women that does not mean we should not challenge each other. It is crucial that irresponsible and damaging behaviour like this is not supported just because the Kardashians are women. Jameela fully acknowledges the role that the media has played in such a heavy focus on appearance. She encourages Khloe to be honest and responsible; she does not want to simply 'cancel' the Kardashians. We should be helping each other to aspire to be better, using social media platforms such as Instagram, to our advantage in promoting positive messages.
It is disappointing that some of the most influential females in the world are promoting such damaging ideals, however unhealthy obsessions with appearance across social media will not end anytime soon unless movements like I Weigh continue to grow and gain support. But with social media being one of the key influencers in the rise in teenage mental health problems - is it time to stop keeping up with the Kardashians?
Share this article