In disability circles, she is recognized as an advocate for disability rights, LGBTQ rights, body neutrality, and her work around social justice. Jamil lives with several chronic illnesses, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome EDSan invisible disability. She also identifies as queer. With candid moments of her life, Jamil shares her journey to champion understanding, self-worth and unity. I have been following your work for a while now and am very thankful to have you here today.
And by the way, happy birthday! I saw your birthday was a couple of weeks ago. Jameela Jamil: Oh, thank you! Sturm: First, I wanted to talk a bit about your background. You grew up in the UK, but now you live in the US. Tell me a bit about how you ended up here? Jamil: I Jameela Jamil twenty-eight, and I had just sort of Jameela Jamil everything I could ever have wanted or hoped to do in the United Kingdom. And it must have been some sort of a fluke.
At 28, I was considered too old to start again. I Jameela Jamil thought there might be something new out there for me. Jameela Jamil, I decided to book a one-way ticket after a health scare where the doctor found a lump in my breast I had to have removed. I had no plan. I just wanted to prove everyone wrong. If I am not mistaken, you started out as a TV and radio host, and then you switched to acting, even though you were planning to be a screenwriter.
Jamil: Yeah, I was a DJ, too.
I want to be careful not to take up that space. But I would say that I am an advocate first and everything else last. I moonlight as a performer, but my biggest cause in life since I was 19 has been social justice. Sturm: I could Jameela Jamil see that on your social Jameela Jamil profiles. Jamil: Oh, no way. Sturm: Yeah, and a lot of other conditions.
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Sturm: It is. And if you are on your period, which for some reason, I always am when I have important interviews. Jamil: Your period is worse because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome? Is that why my periods are so bad? Jamil: Oh my God, that makes so much sense. Sturm: Same here. How cool. I learn something new every day. Would you like to tell me why you decided to share your health journey with your followers? As my career grew, I just finally felt like I was powerful enough to Jameela Jamil it.
There is less and less awareness, and the toolkits are being removed for doctors to be able to use to identify Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. All of these pieces of information from around the world and seeing how little awareness there still is now— I was diagnosed in —I Jameela Jamil a sense of duty to use my platform to speak out about this and start raising awareness.
Often, they think we are hypochondriacs or that we have Munchausen syndrome because we present as very healthy on the outside. You look like the picture of health, for example. We get dismissed and belittled every day. Can you tell me how you, as someone who stands in the public, deals with those ableist comments? Publicly, but also internally, as these must be really painful. I have very real swelling. I go to bed every single night completely swollen, and I wake up in the morning swollen and in pain.
And I have to go out of my way every single day in order to do even half the things that my peers are able to do naturally. I have to live my life constantly taking precautions. People might ask why I never drank. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is always at the forefront of your mind because it affects every single cell in your body, and so every micro decision you make is in consideration of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
I was very lucky that I was diagnosed by one of the leading consultants in the world, Professor Rodney Graham, when I was nine years old, and he looked after me Jameela Jamil 20 years. So, I was lucky that I always had him to write an angry letter to my school or to my work to explain my limitations or to fight discrimination for me. However, when it happened Jameela Jamil a global scale last year because some female journalist, who literally only goes after women, raised that issue and then social media took hold of it and ran with it, that was overwhelming for Jameela Jamil because the world was laughing about something that has made me struggle my entire life.
We live in an ableist world that considers sickness and sexiness to be mutually exclusive. What benefit would there be for me to lie and make this thing up that would only make my life harder? Sturm: Exactly. Jamil: So that was painful. But who is going to see it?
Other people that follow me.
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So maybe it was for the best. I still think that everyone who contributed to that is a trash human. Sturm: Did you have any specific coping mechanism to deal with this? Jamil: I take very strong anti-anxiety medication. I had to go on very strong anti-anxiety meds to cope with the global shaming and ridicule. Outrage sells. We need to stop diagnosing people with our eyes.
How do you think growing up having this perspective on disability and illness has influenced you as an adult and professional later in life? Now I look at my body as my best friend; my ride or die. I do everything I can to try and look after it. Sturm: What do you feel is the biggest challenge being a chronically ill woman and an outspoken advocate who belongs to different minorities in Hollywood, especially compared Jameela Jamil your non-disabled colleagues?
I have to work harder. If I end up on the cover of magazines and Jameela Jamil can show my stretch marks and my scars and my bendy joints, I want young people to feel Jameela Jamil at least some of their dreams can come true, too. I want them to feel represented in me. Sturm: And we can be happy.
Jamil: We can be happy. We can be in love. Jamil: And we can have a wonderful social life and understanding friends to help look after us.
Jamil: When you have a disability, and then you see people who are non-disabled do these things with their bodies, like that guy who climbs that cliff without a rope, I get angry. I get mad when I see people taking risks with their bodies like that. Why are we ice skating? Are you kidding me with ice skating? Are you kidding me with being on wet ice on a knife — like, gliding Jameela Jamil a knife through wet ice? So, I am very grateful Jameela Jamil Ehlers-Danlos syndrome for keeping me away from these stupid activities that I would Jameela Jamil participate in otherwise.
Eventually, this shit catches up with everyone. How did you get into those fields? Jameela speaking at an event for gender equity. Body positivity is a different social-political movement that is hugely important, but not mine.
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I grew up very marginalized and very lonely and feeling a lot of shame around the state of my life as a result of our society ostracizing anyone who was different. And I was sick and brown and secretly queer, and a girl and taller than I was Jameela Jamil to be for a girl and chubbier than I was supposed to be for a girl.
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And now to suddenly find myself accepted by the world —This is the same face. I just want to use it to raise awareness about all the things that year-old me cared about. And now you Jameela Jamil have a podcast with the same name. Can you tell me a little about those projects and what you want to achieve with them?
Jamil: iWEIGH started as a rant online where I was Jameela Jamil of the way that women are still—20 years since I first developed an eating disorder—valued by the number on a scale.
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These women have amassed billions of dollars or won countless awards or broken world records, and the only thing we care about is how little space they take up in the world. I was very offended by that. I thought it would be a phase. I learn publicly from Jameela Jamil educators on the podcast and the YouTube channel. And I make it with a great team of people. Sturm: What Jameela Jamil of topics do you discuss on your podcast?