Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jameela Jamil thinks photoshopping celebrities should be illegal

Photo: Stuart C. Wilson (Getty Images)

Jameela Jamil has waged war on modern beauty standards, with The Good Place star using her public profile to condemn celebrities who shill snake oil diet supplements. Now, she’s taken her argument further by calling out the longstanding media practice of photoshopping and airbrushing females to make them appear younger and blemish-free. What’s especially egregious, she points out, is that the same treatment isn’t offered to men, whose imperfections are often highlighted as part of their aesthetic appeal.

“An example of Photoshop being weaponised against women: This is how we portray men in their 50s on magazine covers and women in their 50s,” she wrote Sunday on Twitter. “Look at the difference. Men who age are sexy in HD. Women mostly just shouldn’t dare age. Men can celebrate the inevitable, we must fear it.”


She elaborated on her point in subsequent tweets, calling the process “ageist, ableist, fatphobic, racist and deeply sexist” while adding that she’s “banned all photoshop of myself” so “I don’t set myself up for a fall when I look in the mirror after seeing a digitally enhanced ‘flawless’ avatar.”


Her tweets arrived in conjunction with a piece Jamil wrote on the topic for the BBC, one in which she declares that airbrushing should be “illegal.” 

“Filters and digital editing have almost certainly contributed to the fact so many of the women I know have turned to needles, knives and extreme diets to try to match their online avatar,” she writes. “We need to see spots. We need to see wrinkles. We need to see cellulite and stretch marks. If not, we will become almost allergic to the sight of them, even though we all have these things on our own bodies. We need to be honest with ourselves and with each other so that we can all be free.”


As with her arguments against unhealthy diet supplements, Jamil feels the issue speaks to an ingrained sexism in society, writing that it’s responsible for “so many more problems than we realise because we are blinded by the media, our culture and our society.” Later, she adds, “When you filter a woman’s photo you are legitimising the patriarchy’s absurd aesthetic standards, that women should be attractive to the straight, male gaze at all costs. When you filter your selfies, you are doing the same thing.”

To help combat these trends, Jamil has started a social media initiative called @i_weigh, which functions as a body positive forum for celebrating the myriad ways in which we’re all unique.


Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.