Jameela Jamil never shies away from controversy or voicing her opinions on social media, especially when it comes to the unrealistic standards of beauty. The actress and activist is extremely passionate about body image and inclusion, and a recent tweet about the modeling industry exploded into a full-on feud with model Sara Sampaio.
On October 13, Jamil shared a clip from Vienna Fashion Week, which featured Nigerian models dancing to African music as they strutted down the runway. “Oh my god,” the actress wrote, along with three heart-eyes emojis. “This looks like the most fun, and not a long-starved terrified teenager in sight.”
Oh my god 😍😍😍 this looks like the most fun, and not a long-starved terrified teenager in sight. Beautiful. https://t.co/hck5n6e9Xu
The online argument broke out after Sampaio, a 28-year-old model, took offense to her implications about the modeling industry. She fired back at Jamil: “How about celebrating someone without bringing other people down? Calling runway models ‘long-starved terrified teenager’ is extremely offensive. From someone that is always preaching for body positivity this just screams hypocrisy.”
How about celebrating someone without bringing other people down? Calling runway models “long-starved terrified teenager” is extremely offensive. From someone that is always preaching for body positivity this just screams hypocrisy. https://t.co/JOBtY0yrui
Jamil was quick to reply that she was not referring to “all models,” but that there is an undeniable problem with body image in the modeling world. She argued that there is a major issue with young girls starving themselves and using drugs to “meet the very small sample sizes.”
She then went on to clarify that she doesn’t “preach body positivity,” writing: “I talk about moving away from all talk of body, in order to combat our current pervasive issue of eating disorder culture, which is in NO small way perpetuated by the extreme thinness demanded of girls by the high fashion powers that be.”
I also don’t preach “body positivity.” I talk about moving away from all talk of body, in order to combat our current pervasive issue of eating disorder culture, which is in NO small way perpetuated by the extreme thinness demanded of girls by the high fashion powers that be.
The argument continued back and forth on Twitter, with Sampaio insisting Jamil’s point was still an unfair judgement of the industry as a whole. “It’s very simple to celebrate someone without having do drag other people,” she wrote. “And make general negative assumptions about a whole group of people. most of these girls are teenagers! And they don’t deserved to be constantly put in a negative box like you just did.”
Jamil, who used to work as a model and struggled with an eating disorder, eventually brought up the fact that Sampaio has worked for Victoria’s Secret, a historically problematic brand, and accused her of defending the unrealistic standards of the industry she “benefits from.”
Sampaio countered this by saying that all companies make mistakes and that she’s continuing to learn as an individual, too. This comes days after Victoria’s Secret announced their very first campaign featuring a plus-size model.
If you’re speaking out against what your company did then GREAT. I look forward to seeing your activism on that with your big profile. You seem passionate about speaking out. So best of luck to you on helping young girls and trans people in this business. ❤️ https://t.co/UdQNCJrtb6
“I think you’re using your platform to defend something that is overwhelmingly negative for girls,” Jamil concluded without mincing words. “I’m an activist. My words aren’t cute, or easy, or inoffensive. Change doesn’t come from being polite.”
The two have since agreed to disagree, and followers chimed in with their support of both sides of the argument.
There are no doubt deep-rooted issues within the fashion industry, ones that influence young women far beyond the runways. Hopefully, we can continue to have open dialogue about complex problems such as this while impacting change.