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Jameela Jamil's Twitter plea reminds us of the importance of language in self-perception

‘Losing weight implies taking up less space.’

IF YOU’VE EVER been advised to speak to yourself as you would your best friend, then it’s very likely you have fallen foul of a certain level of self-negativity.

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The language we use when describing ourselves rarely mirrors the language we use when describing others; even if they share the same perceived ‘flaw’ as we believe ourselves to.

For every ‘fat’ you’ve branded yourself with, you’ve used words like ‘curvy’, ‘voluptuous’ and ‘buxom’ to describe others.

For every time you’ve lamented your lack of progress on the exercise front, you’ve rained words like ‘determined’, ‘willpower’ and ‘dedicated’ on others in the very same position.

Seriously, few of us manage to avoid it.

Despite the fact I’ve spent the last 15 years lamenting my six-foot height, I often find myself openly admiring the stature of women six-foot or over.

Bizarrely, the irony is often lost on me until a perplexed friend is forced to point out that I’ve complimented the very thing in someone else that I see as a flaw in myself.

Years of exposure to industries which teach us that we are only ever a work in progress infiltrates the way we perceive our bodies, so it’s no real surprise we often reach for the negative descriptor when considering how we look, what we do, and how we do it.

And that is why every time a person has waxed lyrical about their ‘weight-loss journey’ either in mainstream or social media, many of us have either subconsciously or consciously assessed our own, whether or not we’ve even embarked on some such ‘journey’.

And while people are cottoning onto the impact language and perception has in the realm of fitness, wellness and self-improvement, we still have some way to go. 

But at the helm we have Jameela Jamil, who yesterday encouraged women within the industry to avoid discussing ‘weight-loss journeys’ and instead promote the use of words like ‘fitter’, ‘faster’ and ‘stronger’ when documenting aforementioned ‘journeys’.

In a series of tweets and exchanges with followers, the broadcaster and actress expanded on her initial post, highlighting the problematic nature surrounding language in the diet and fitness field.

[Losing weight] implies taking up less space. That implies there is something wrong with your curves. Women who follow you may be the same size or bigger and you send an instant message to them that they need to change, whether you mean to not.

Acknowledging that a great many of us have fallen victim to a mindset that convinces us our relationship to gravity somehow helps define our worth, Jameela urged those who focus on this aesthetic to reassess how they communicate it with the wider world.

If you have internalised the senseless shame laid upon women for daring not to be size zero, I understand and I’m so sorry, but don’t push that onto the women who look up to you.

An advocate for the importance of exercise, Jameela, who regularly attributes her gym sessions to the positive impact they have on her mental health, doesn’t expect people to hide their reliance on exercise, but simply reframe the language around it.

It does make you feel amazing psychologically and strong physically. Let’s start posting about that if anything.

Something to think about…

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