Jameela Jamil isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
Over the past several months, the outspoken Good Place actress, 33, has become known for calling out celebrities — including Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian and Cardi B — for promoting weight loss teas and appetite-suppressing lollipops to their millions of followers.
“I’m not nervous to call anyone out,” Jamil told PEOPLE ahead of her keynote speech on Saturday at the Create & Cultivate pop up held in Palm Springs, Calif., during weekend one of Coachella.
“I think people are just scared and greedy. I think girls, in particular, are scared because we’re always told to not be unlikable, and not to be difficult, and to be perfect. I would like to, hopefully, be a force of change in that [and] show people that sometimes you have to be scary, and you have to be intimidating, and you have to be bold, and you have to be unlikable in order to protect yourself and to protect other people.”
“It’s like a moral responsibility,” she added. “More people should be doing this. I’m doing the bare minimum, and everyone else should be doing the same.”
In March, Jamil slammed Khloé Kardashian, 34, for posting about Flat Tummy Co.’s meal replacement shakes on Instagram. Kardashian posted a photo of her toned stomach and claimed that after two weeks of drinking the product, “the progress is undeniable.”
Jamil responded, “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. Side effects such as: Possible Flat Tummy Tea side effects are cramping, stomach pains, diarrhea and dehydration… Then I guess I have to.” (Khloé has since responded to Jamil’s comments in an interview with the New York Times by saying that she has never employed a chef and that she makes a point to post her workouts on Snapchat for people who can’t afford a personal trainer.)
Flat Tummy Co. has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Since then, S. Bryn Austin, a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health, published an opinion piece on NBC News on April 7 lauding Jamil for her efforts.
“In just a few months of shrewdly crafted social media posts, The Good Place star Jameela Jamil has opened the eyes of millions around the globe to the corrupt and deceptive detox tea market,” Austin wrote. “Arguably, she’s done this more efficiently and expeditiously than a quarter century of well-intentioned but utterly unglamorous communications from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) … If I’ve learned anything from the last few days of the Jamil-Kardashian celebrity brouhaha, it’s that sometimes one of the most effective ways to battle celebrity pseudoscience is with other celebrities.”
Now, New York City Councilman Mark Levine “has introduced legislation to ban the sale of the tea and other similar products to minors after learning about their danger from a staffer whose relative died after consuming them,” according to NY 1.
“It was really cool of them to give me credit because, often, women of color don’t get credit for our work,” Jamil said. “That was very, very gratifying for me.”
“All I’m trying to do is protect young people because they are so easily influenced,” she continued. “Celebrity has taken over from religion. Celebrities are the new deities, therefore we have too much power and too much influence. It has to be handled more responsibly than it is currently.”
Jamil said she knows firsthand the type of influence that celebrities can have on young people. As a young girl, she starved herself in order to try to look like what she saw in magazines and movies.
“I was a teenager in the ’90s when all of the actresses were skeletally thin,” she said. “We were trying to literally emulate famine, which was going on in the world at that time. That was the look of iconic beauty. I starved myself for years. I didn’t have my periods for years. I hurt my fertility. I hurt my bones. I hurt my internal organs. My digestive system has never really recovered, nor has my thyroid, nor has my metabolism.”
“I can’t sit here, and take money from this industry, and be a part of it without calling bulls— on the things that are dangerous because otherwise, I’m complicit in it. In order for me to be able to sleep at night, I have to be part of the change rather than part of the problem,” she said.
Jamil said she would give this advice to her younger self: “Every time I’m thinking about my body, or my hair, or my face, or how sexy or attractive other people find me is a minute I’m not thinking about growing my mind, or my business, or my family, or my mental health, so I’m being actively distracted. I think waking people up to that has been the coolest part of my year.”
And Jamil doesn’t mind when she gets called out for making mistakes.
“If you bring your ego into activism, you’ll fail,” she said. “You have to constantly re-update yourself in order to keep up with the times. They’re ever-changing. I’ve learned a lot from it and I’m very grateful to the people who call me out.”
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