- The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil posted an Instagram photo on Monday showing off her “boob stretch marks.”
- The 33-year-old wrote that they are a “a normal, beautiful thing.”
- She went on to say that she’s rechristened them “Babe Marks.”
Jameela Jamil’s own personal good place? Let’s call it Body Positivity Land. The 33-year-old actress has created a brand around her distaste for trendy weight-loss shakes (sorry, Kardashians) and her love for bodies of all shapes and sizes. She even recently launched a new Instagram TV show, I Weigh Interviews, inspired by her I Weigh movement on social media. Now Jameela is working to normalize a totally natural phenomenon many women have been made to feel bad about: stretch marks.
In an Instagram posted on Monday, Jameela flaunts her own stretch marks on her breasts and writes about how they are a “normal, beautiful thing.”
“I have stretch marks all over my body and I hereby rename them all Babe Marks,” she wrote. “They are a sign my body dared to take up extra space in a society that demands our eternal thinness. They are my badge of honour for resisting society’s weaponizing of the female form. ❤️”
And Jameela certainly isn’t wrong about stretch marks being a totally normal (and prevalent) thing: According to research published in the British Journal of Dermatology, around 75 to 90 percent of pregnant women will develop stretch marks. And, of course, many of us are genetically predisposed to the tiny lines—which form when the middle layer of skin is rapidly stretched, causing microscopic bleeding and tissue inflammation—pregnancy or not.
So let’s all take a page from Jameela’s book and embrace the “imperfections” that make us who we are. Babe Marks, indeed!
Amy Wilkinson Amy Wilkinson is an entertainment editor who also specializes in health and wellness.
- Jameela Jamil opens up about embracing breast stretch marks: ‘They are nothing to be ashamed of’
- Aerie Pique High-Waist Bikini Bottoms
- Aerie Side Scoop Bikini Top
- Aerie Seersucker Scoop One-piece Swimsuit
- Aerie Cutout One-Shoulder One-piece Swimsuit
- Aerie Open-Back Cover-up
- How Jameela Jamil built a brand around body positivity
- How Jamil built a brand around body positivity
- She has criticized Cardi B, Iggy Azalea, and the Kardashians for endorsing questionable weight loss products on Instagram
- Jameela Jamil has a history of stirring the pot with what some call slut-shaming rhetoric
- The double-edged sword of “Cool Girl” feminism
Jameela Jamil opens up about embracing breast stretch marks: ‘They are nothing to be ashamed of’
Jameela Jamil has opened up about learning to embrace the stretch marks that she has on her breasts, revealing that she’s frequently offered makeup during photo shoots to cover them up.
The star of The Good Place has become an outspoken advocate of self-love as of late, launching her “I Weigh” movement earlier this year to encourage people to become less concerned with their physical appearances and more on their personal values.
Jamil recent took part in a photo shoot for Arcadia magazine where she wore a pink, strapless dress, with the stretch marks on her breasts clearly visible.
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“Embrace thine stretch marks. They are nothing to be ashamed of or cover up or edit out,” she wrote on Twitter after the pictures were published, adding the hashtag “#saynotoairbrushing”.
Jamil has continued to discuss the subject of breast stretch marks over the past couple of days, explaining in a recent tweet that it’s often assumed that she would want to have them concealed.
“I always get offered makeup for my t*ts and always say no, because of HOW much I cried when I first developed stretch marks at 17, because I didn’t see ANY on women in the public eye,” she wrote.
“I thought I was a freak. I’m here to tell you all YOU are NOT freaks.”
A number of people have praised her for the candid comments about stretch marks, which has launched a discussion how they struggle with the same body insecurity.
“Oh my gosh, thank you for this! As someone who developed really quickly, I’ve had stretch marks on my breasts since I was 13,” one person wrote on Instagram.
“I was so ashamed as I always associated stretch marks with pregnancy, and all I wanted was perky little breasts! Seeing you embrace your body helps me feel like mine can be seen as more ‘normal’ too!”
Another tweeted: “When I was in my late teens, an older woman in my life who I love and respect told me to stop wearing tops that showed them because ‘nobody wants to see your stretch marks flopping about’. I’ve kept that with my for YEARS, and it’s a bloody joy to see you embrace your body.”
Earlier this year, Jamil was commended for her response to a stranger who’d body-shamed her at the gym.
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After being told by the man that she could look “amazing” if she made greater efforts to “improve” her body, the actor and activist posted a video online explaining how comments like his could deter people from going to the gym at all.
“Don’t walk up to someone and impose your belief of what you think they should look like onto them,” she said. “Don’t do that to women, don’t do that to men, don’t do it to anyone.”
“The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil shared a photo showing off stretch marks on her breasts and proclaimed she will rename them “Babe Marks.” (Getty Images)
“The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil shared a photo with her followers showing off stretch marks on her breasts and proclaimed she will rename them “Babe Marks.”
Jamil, 33, who is outspoken on social media about body positivity, shared the photo sans makeup encouraging others to wear sunscreen.
“Boob stretch marks are a normal, beautiful thing,” she captioned the sunny photo. “I have stretch marks all over my body and I hereby rename them all Babe Marks. They are a sign my body dared to take up extra space in a society that demands our eternal thinness.”
JAMEELA JAMIL SCOLDS KHLOE KARDASHIAN FOR PROMOTING WEIGHT LOSS PRODUCT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Jamil explained that her faces is “white” because she is wearing SPF 100 sunscreen. She called on her fans to tan responsibly and to embrace their skin color.
“PS LOVE YOUR BROWN SKIN…” the former BBC Radio 1 host wrote. “This skin bleaching and whitening should be banned. It’s inherently racist, classist and emotionally very damaging.”
Recently, Jamil called out Khloe Kardashian for promoting weight loss products on Instagram. She called Kardashian “irresponsible” for promoting Flat Tummy Co’s meal replacement shake to her 89-plus million Instagram followers.
JAMEELA JAMIL IDENTIFIED AS HER ‘GOOD PLACE’ CHARACTER’S SISTER ON GOLDEN GLOBE E! CHYRON
‘If you’re too irresponsible to: a) own up to the fact that you have a personal trainer, nutritionist, probable chef, and a surgeon to achieve your aesthetic rather than this laxative product and b) tell them the side effects of this NON-FDA approved product, that most doctors are saying aren’t healthy,” Jamil wrote.
Fox News’ Jessica Napoli contributed to this report.
On Instagram, Jameela Jamil is incredibly candid—about dealing with stress, about her gripes with inconsistent sizing, about celebrities who peddle detox teas on their feeds. That frankness doesn’t end online, either. During a recent conversation, Jamil—a spokesperson for Aerie—explained how she prefers the pool to the beach because she “likes to be near a nice, clean toilet”; how annoyed she gets at swimsuits that “ride up your ass”; and how she’s come up with a hack to make up for the lack of storage space for snacks in women’s swimwear. (More on that in a bit.)
The actor’s partnership with Aerie makes perfect sense, given the body-positive movement she started on Instagram, iWeigh, as well as Aerie’s commitment to not retouching its images, which is what got the Good Place star, 33, interested in working with the company. “I thought that was so great and revolutionary, especially for a brand that does so much swimwear and underwear,” she says. “I went into the store a year before I met , and I noticed that all the photographs were of women of every color and age, of people with disabilities, of people who are cancer survivors—all modeling underwear and being seen as beautiful.”
Jamil at an Aerie swim event in L.A.
Courtesy of Aerie
She’s since starred in an Aerie campaign of her own, and you can expect to see her in a lot of the brand’s swimsuits this summer. “I’m going to go to Italy on holiday, so I will be wearing something from the new collection when I get there,” she says.
Jamil already has a very specific swim shopping strategy. “I shop online, which is risky,” she says. “But I tend to go for a similar style everywhere that works for me I know my size. I order three sizes: the size I think I am, the size above, and the size below. Women’s sizing is still so insane. Men get inches—they know exactly what they’re buying, down to the very centimeter. And we’re told to vaguely guess.”
It also helps to know what you like, Jamil says: “I’m a high-waisted girl. I can use my briefs to store snacks and sunblock and sunglasses. They haven’t out pockets—maybe I just invented that. Have fucking pockets. It may not be flattering, but I’ve never really cared about flattering. So it looks like I’ve got lumps just all over my stomach, but I just use for storage.” (If there’s ever a Jameela Jamil x Aerie collaboration, we now know what to expect.)
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Though swimwear in 2019 definitely favors the bold—top trends include neon, animal prints, and even sequins—Jamil prefers to keep hers much more minimal. “I spill food on myself a lot, so I tend to go darker with my colors,” she says.
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Those extra-strappy, complicated-looking bikinis aren’t her thing, either. “I’m very conscious of tan lines because I tan fast. The ones with the weird cuts—like the ones they wear on Instagram—I can’t wear because I will look like a zebra,” she says. “I try to wear things that are keeping me unclothed in the areas that I will be unclothed in everyday life.”
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It’s not that Jamil has totally ruled out these of-the-moment pieces. In fact, there’s one summer 2019 swim trend she’s super excited about—and will definitely be wearing. “I love the lemons—love, love, love the lemons,” she says, referring to a series of lemon-printed suits in Aerie’s latest collection. “I love fruit on anything. Fruit on any clothing or accessory. My earrings are always some sort of fruit, so I love that. I love the bold colors, and I think they’re bringing me into more colorful clothing.”
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“I love cover-ups too because you need to be able to go into a restaurant after the pool or the beach,” she adds. “It’s nice to be able to throw that on for decency.”
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Unsurprisingly, Jamil’s approach to summer style is markedly different from that of her Good Place character, Tahani—or, at least, how she imagines it. “Mine would be cheaper than hers, for sure. And I think it would be less extra,” she says. “I’m definitely more of a wallflower than she is. It would be distinctly more chill—less diamonds.” If you were to run into Tahani at the beach, Jamil guesses, she’d probably be wearing a “Christian Dior ball gown, like she’s going to the Met. I see her in the sea in a gown.”
How Jameela Jamil built a brand around body positivity
If you are not a fan of the critically acclaimed NBC sitcom The Good Place (which you should be! Why aren’t you watching it??), then you may not be familiar with Jameela Jamil.
Jamil plays Tahani al-Jamil, an image-obsessed socialite who lives in her accomplished older sister’s shadow. Recently, however, the actress has also become known as a vocal feminist and body positivity advocate. In the last month alone, Jamil has come after everyone from Cardi B to Iggy Azalea to Khloe Kardashian for advertising “detox teas,” or beverages that are purported to help you lose weight, on Instagram.
For the most part, the media has embraced the portrayal of Jamil as an outspoken advocate for feminist empowerment, a 2018 version of a 2014-era Jennifer Lawrence or a 2016-era Chrissy Teigen. “In an industry that reproduces so many limiting ideas of how women should look, speak, dress and think, it is so refreshing to see an actress speak her mind,” Paper magazine wrote in a profile of Jamil.
Recently, however, that narrative has gotten more complicated. This week, Jamil generated backlash for a BBC op-ed she wrote, along with a series of tweets, which called for Photoshop and airbrushing to be made illegal.
Jamil’s tweets started out innocently enough, pointing out how often magazines airbrush photos of female celebrities in their 40s and 50s while leaving male celebrities untouched. (Jamil has famously refused to let any publications Photoshop images of her.)
An example of Photoshop being weaponised against women: This is how we portray men in their 50s on magazine covers and women in their 50s. Look at the difference. Men who age are sexy in HD. Women mostly just shouldn’t dare age. Men can celebrate the inevitable, we must fear it. pic.twitter.com/XKykaZuiYf
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) December 2, 2018
One of her anti-Photoshop tweets, however, featured a photo of a glowing Jamil wearing what appears to be makeup, while simultaneously enjoining women to “say no to airbrushing” — a message that many interpreted as a statement that self-love is liberating, provided you’re super hot. Others accused Jamil of exhibiting Tahani-esque levels of privilege and lack of self-awareness. (Jamil has since deleted the tweet.)
I know her thing is to shit on influencers and the K*rd*sh**ns but uploading a hot pic of yourself in full makeup with a supposedly #empowering caption is an extremely Kardasho-Jenner move. pic.twitter.com/I7F9NvuFZ8
— IVA DIXIT (@ivadixit) December 2, 2018
Jameela Jamil posting a picture where she looks luminously beautiful with the captain “say no to airbrushing …. I want to look like a person” is so extremely Tahani
— Festive Winter Sea Witch (@theKatriarch) December 2, 2018
Jameela Jamil’s “airbrushing should be illegal” essay reminds me so much of Alicia Keys’s “women should be makeup free” campaign. It’s like they forget they inhabit the very bodies upheld as ideal. pic.twitter.com/zBHdP2YXIL
— Evette Dionne ♀️ (@freeblackgirl) December 3, 2018
Some even questioned Jamil’s motives for making body positivity such an integral part of her platform. The response may signal an impending backlash — not just against Jamil, but against celebrities who have used body positivity and female empowerment as a self-branding tactic.
(Jameela Jamil is the Matt McGory of 2018)
— Caroline Moss (@CarolineMoss) December 3, 2018
How Jamil built a brand around body positivity
Although she’s been famous in the UK for years, Jamil has become well-known in the US media fairly recently. A former British “it girl,” she first became famous as a presenter (that’s British for “TV host”) for the TV program T4, as well as the breakfast show (that’s British for “a show that airs in the morning”) Freshly Squeezed. Three years ago, she moved to Los Angeles, reportedly with no intention of starting an acting career, and landed the lead role of Tahani on her very first audition.
Jamil has spoken publicly about body positivity throughout her career. She’s been open about her own personal struggles with body image, such as an eating disorder she grappled with in her teens and her experience being body-shamed by the British press after gaining weight from using steroids for asthma. She has said that her difficulty finding clothes in her size during that time prompted her to launch a size-inclusive collection in 2016 with the UK brand Simply Be, which included sizes 10 to 32 (or US sizes 6 to size 30).
In a 2015 interview, Jamil said she wanted to provide more options for larger women, while simultaneously refusing to call them “plus-size”: “The concept of plus-size is so derogatory and weird. What does that mean? Plus the normal size? It shouldn’t exist anymore,” she told Femail at the time.
In March of this year, Jamil launched the Instagram account I Weigh. In the caption on the inaugural post, Jamil wrote that she was “fucking tired of seeing women just ignore what’s amazing about them and their lives and their achievements, just because they don’t have a bloody thigh gap.” The account now has more than 249,000 followers and features more than 2,000 user-submitted posts from women.
Since then, Jamil has publicly weighed in on a number of issues related to body positivity and cultural beauty standards. Last June, she announced her no-Photoshop policy; in October, she reiterated this stance, sharing unretouched photos from a Marilyn Monroe-inspired photo shoot in which stretch marks on her breasts were visible. Like Teigen and Padma Lakshmi before her, who have also shared photos of their stretch marks, Jamil posted the images along with a message of self-acceptance.
Embrace thine stretch marks. They are nothing to be ashamed of or cover up or edit out. ❤️ #saynotoairbrushing #letabitchlive pic.twitter.com/gtKwbQiTnL
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) October 23, 2018
She has criticized Cardi B, Iggy Azalea, and the Kardashians for endorsing questionable weight loss products on Instagram
Since she started building her US brand, Jamil has taken aim at celebrities and social media influencers for promoting what she says she views as toxic, body-shaming narratives.
Arguably her highest-profile target has been the Kardashians, most notably Kim Kardashian, who promoted appetite-suppressing lollipops by the Instagram weight-loss company Flat Tummy Co. “No. Fuck off. No. You terrible and toxic influence on young girls,” Jamil wrote on Twitter back in May. (Kardashian did not issue a public response.)
In an August interview with podcast host Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Jamil slammed the Kardashians again, referring to them as “double agents” for the “patriarchy.” “It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing: Just because you look like a woman, we trust you and we think you’re on our side, but you are selling us something that really doesn’t make us feel good …. You’re selling us self-consciousness,” she told Guru-Murthy.
While some criticized Jamil for taking issue with the Kardashians rather than the patriarchy itself, Jamil attempted to clarify her comments on Twitter, specifying that she wasn’t criticizing the Kardashians specifically, but the beauty-obsessed culture they were endorsing.
No. Fuck off. No. You terrible and toxic influence on young girls. I admire their mother’s branding capabilities, she is an exploitative but innovative genius, however this family makes me feel actual despair over what women are reduced to. ☹️ pic.twitter.com/zDPN1T8sBM
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) May 16, 2018
MAYBE don’t take appetite suppressors and eat enough to fuel your BRAIN and work hard and be successful. And to play with your kids. And to have fun with your friends. And to have something to say about your life at the end, other than “I had a flat stomach.” pic.twitter.com/XsBM3aFtAQ
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) May 16, 2018
Last month, Jamil publicly lambasted Cardi B, whose latest Instagram post had endorsed another detox tea; she also criticized Iggy Azalea, Amber Rose, and Khloe Kardashian for promoting similar weight loss products. “GOD I hope all these celebrities all shit their pants in public, the way the poor women who buy this nonsense upon their recommendation do,” she wrote.
(As Vox previously reported, many of these teas have a laxative effect; taking laxatives can lead to cramping, indigestion, and dehydration, which makes them an unsafe and unhealthy means of losing weight).
They got Cardi B on the laxative nonsense “detox” tea. GOD I hope all these celebrities all shit their pants in public, the way the poor women who buy this nonsense upon their recommendation do. Not that they actually take this shit. They just flog it because they need MORE MONEY pic.twitter.com/OhmTjjWVOp
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 24, 2018
Give us the discount codes to your nutritionists, personal chefs, personal trainers, airbrushers and plastic surgeons you bloody liars. pic.twitter.com/2wes19cJdb
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 26, 2018
Cardi B, for her part, told Jamil, “I will never shit my pants because there’s public bathrooms….and ooh, bushes.” Emboldened by Cardi’s response, Jamil leaned into the joke further, posting a video of herself pretending to chug a detox tea, then rushing to the bathroom.
Every time you see a celeb or influencer post sexy diet/detox product ad… remember this picture. This is what they’re selling. pic.twitter.com/RLpYRdhOHv
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 28, 2018
If celebs and influencers were actually honest with us about some of these diet/detox products… pic.twitter.com/OQsJobGOQN
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 28, 2018
Jameela Jamil has a history of stirring the pot with what some call slut-shaming rhetoric
In the past, Jamil (who in her Twitter bio refers to herself as a “feminist-in-progress”) has been accused of harboring some anti-feminist views, specifically when it comes to women she appears to deem overly sexually provocative.
In the past, she’s called out Miley Cyrus for her “overt use of her sexuality and her vagina to gain a platform”; in a column for the UK website Company, she also criticized Rihanna for posing pantsless on Instagram, imploring her to “put away her minge” (British for female genitalia).
In a blog post, Jamil also accused Beyoncé of “behaving like a (Bloody amazingly beautiful) stripper” with her “buttocks spread apart by a pole…air-humping a piano” in the music video for “Flawless.” Following backlash, Jamil deleted the post — but an archived version is still viewable. Jamil was also accused of erasing the work of black women like body positive activist Stephanie Yeboah, who claims that Jamil once quoted her in an interview without attribution.
In an October 2018 op-ed for Pajiba, writer Kayleigh Donaldson took aim at what she referred to as Jamil’s “diluted version of body positivity,” one that does not necessarily include all women of all different sizes: “She loves low-hanging fruit, especially when it comes to women who make a living by being sexual in any form,” Donaldson wrote, noting Jamil’s previous criticism of Beyonce, Cyrus, and Rihanna.
Donaldson also questioned whether Jamil, as a conventionally attractive, straight-size woman, is necessarily the best representative of the body positivity community. “It would be silly of us to pretend Jamil didn’t get where she is today if she weren’t astoundingly beautiful and the ‘right’ size for American TV,” Donaldson writes.
Jamil herself seems at least somewhat aware of her own shortcomings as a representative for the body positivity movement. In an interview with Marie Claire, Jamil bemoaned the fact that body positivity has “become a marketing slogan, and that’s not what it was originally for. It was supposed to be inclusive, and again now, it’s been taken over by very slender, often Caucasian women.”
Indeed, one of the most common critiques of the body positivity movement is that its primary representatives have very little in common with the vast majority of women. “For instance, a conventionally attractive Instagram model clapping back at her haters, or a literal supermodel who feels the need to publicly answer her anonymous, powerless social media critics. Or that supermodel’s cousin who is a hero to women everywhere for displaying one single fat roll,” as Amanda Mull wrote in a Vox piece.
Kristen Bell and Jameela Jamil in The Good Place. Colleen Hayes/NBC
To be fair, the body positivity movement has gotten (slightly) more diverse over the past few years, with women of color and LGBTQ women slowly becoming more visible. And as a woman of Indian and Pakistani descent, Jamil contributes a welcome perspective to a movement that, as she pointed out in Marie Claire, is still pretty damn white.
Still, it’s easy to see why a woman who doesn’t look like Jamil (or Teigen or Emily Ratajkowski, a literal bikini model) would be skeptical of their messages of self-empowerment and body positivity. If you look great without makeup, then it’s easy to say that airbrushing and filters and Photoshop should be illegal; and if the rest of your culture loves your body, then it’s easy to love your body, too.
The double-edged sword of “Cool Girl” feminism
In addition to building a brand as a body positivity advocate, Jamil has also garnered fans for her goofy, eminently relatable persona. She frequently refers to bodily functions in interviews and has referred to herself as a “potty mouth” and a “constantly inappropriate person,” filling something of the Cool Girl vacuum left by Jennifer Lawrence, who rose to A-list status in large part by talking openly about butt plugs and dropping F-bombs at awards shows.
(In a somewhat similar vein, Jamil also frequently insists to journalists that she was awkward and unattractive as an adolescent, a time-honored narrative of ugly-ducking-turned-swan right out of the Victoria’s Secret model playbook.)
It remains to be seen whether this strategy will backfire for Jamil, as it ultimately did on some level for Lawrence, who was subject to much debate over whether her frat bro persona was little more than schtick. If the backlash against Jamil’s anti-Photoshop tweets is any indication, it certainly seems like a possibility.
However well-intentioned celebrities may be, the privileges afforded by beauty and wealth and status are simply too great to allow most of them to retain a cool and relatable image for very long.
But for now, it appears that Jamil’s lean into Cool Girl feminism is still working: The media has lauded Jamil for her tweets and her “refreshing” take on celebrity and body image. More than one effusive reporter has gushed that they wish they could be Jamil’s best friend. So for now, that’s the pop cultural role she primarily occupies in the public consciousness — even if she arguably has more in common with the Kardashians themselves than she does with the women who retweet her takedowns.