Jameela Jamil understands that with great power comes great responsibility. Having amassed an audience of over four million people across Instagram and Twitter, the actress has made it her mission to use her massive platform to make a difference. Through her personal channels, Jamil has been unwaveringly candid about her own struggles with mental health, depression, and body image, bravely opening up to followers about surviving a suicide attempt and her battles with an eating disorder.
And now that she's in the public eye, she considers mental health advocacy to be her social responsibility. Since she first entered into the entertainment business, Jamil committed herself to dismantling the toxic ideals of celebrity culture. “We didn't have any celebrity transparency,” Jamil tells Byrdie exclusively. “It’s this veneer where everyone looks perfect, they have airbrushed faces, and everyone's marriage is perfect. I just think it’s toxic because people compare themselves to a false ideal. So, I kind of came out swinging the first time I had an interview. I was like, that's it. I'm going to tell the truth all the time.”
Jamil has embedded her mission of truth-telling and transparency into her digital community and podcast I WEIGH, which calls on other Hollywood stars to open up about their personal struggles. “I love my podcast because we’ve had people like Demi Lovato, Reese Witherspoon, and all these unbelievably famous women telling you their whole truth," she says. "I mean, Debra Messing telling me about her lifelong eating disorder issues normalizes it so we can talk about it. Even though the hardest thing to do is talk about it, it is the most important thing for us to do.”
During the pandemic, Jamil recognizes that many people have struggled with their mental health. To cope with feelings of anxiety or loneliness during this time, she offers this piece of advice: be your own best friend. "Make sure that you are not bullying yourself," she says. "Make sure that you aren't saying things to yourself that you wouldn't tolerate being said to someone that you love and respect. So, don't join in with the hatred and the fear from the outside. Make sure that you at least have your own back."
With her clear commitment to mental health activism, it’s a no brainer that Maybelline tapped Jamil to be the keynote speaker for its Brave Together Mental Health Virtual Meet-Up on October 10. “Mental health is the most important subject in the entire world,” Jamil says. “I think it's a sin to stop talking about it ever. So anytime anyone gives me an opportunity, I take it. I just love talking about mental health.”
In addition to Jamil’s keynote address, the Brave Together event will feature conversations about emotional wellbeing with beauty and style expert Kahlana Barfield Brown, actress and singer Dove Cameron, founder of Sad Girls Club Elyse Fox, Columbia University’s Dr. Kathleen Pike, MNY global makeup artist Erin Parsons, and filmmaker Aicha Cherif. Maybelline launched its Brave Together initiative last month in an effort to dismantle the stigma around anxiety and depression and provide 24/7 access to resources for those in need.