“Take Exercise Back”: Jameela Jamil’s Giddy Galloping is a Strike on Diet Culture


Jethro Aldo Lee, Editor, Reporter, Web Manager

No one thinks of pajamas as typical workout gear.


Yet, on April 30, Jamil posted that starting on the first Saturday of May, she planned to host “fun 30 minute exercise classes where [people] wear pajamas, eat snacks and listen to disco while doing silly aerobics.” 


These sessions are not your traditional exercise sessions. In light of May being mental health awareness month, Jamil yearned to make these sessions a way to promote a healthier relationship with exercise, with the goal not to be focused on doing exercise as a way to feel mentally good and not to lose weight.


Starting on May 1st, Jameela Jamil shared an Instagram post revealing how she plans to host workout sessions through Instagram Live every Saturday. As a figure who has struggled in the past with an eating disorder, Jamil’s relationship with exercise required years of mending for Jamil to finally feel comfortable enough in her body for exercise to be enjoyable to her. As opposed to a punishment for what she hates about her appearance.



In fact, according to Insider, a source of celebrity news, the star admitted that she struggled with attending London Fashion Week in 2009 since “she thought she looked “too fat.” Jamil lamented that her previous challenges with her body limited her from experiencing real joy in her teenage years. Despite how depressing her life was due to her body struggles, she accepts they were a part of her life and always will be, urging her to overcome her obstacles to grow into a stronger individual for others to look up to.


Jamil stressed that a lot of her former struggles were owed to toxic ideals accepted by society. In the same post, she noted that “it’s taken [her] 20 years to get back into even light exercise because [she has] been so traumatized by [her] eating disorder history, and how our society has weaponized exercise into being a tool of diet culture rather than something we do for our mental health.” 


The Good Place actress has been recognized for other brilliant efforts to combat the malice that diet culture sparks among individuals. Notable actions include calling out the Kardashians for promoting unhealthy habits and products (including lollipops that supposedly “suppress appetite”,  opened up about insisting that her promotional images never be airbrushed despite the back fat that appears in them, and publicly denouncing the fashion industry for encouraging infeasible beauty standards. 

“It’s disgusting that vanity has taken over exercise and that you’re made to feel like to even be able to exercise you have to show up thin and toned in revealing clothes,” Jamil highlights. “We need to TAKE EXERCISE BACK.”


Jamil’s efforts are another crucial reminder that success in life is independent of our external features. The unrealistic beauty expectations of society have fomented self-depreciation, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental challenges among the population, especially toward those who are prone to feeling insecure. People, unfortunately, waste precious years of their lives wishing to be someone else on the outside, when in reality the beauty in their spirits is what empowers them to be graceful human beings. Women do not have to be tan-skinned, size zero, fat-lipped, and curvy-thighed individuals to be appreciated by those who truly care about them. Likewise, men do not have to be brawny, tall, or deep-voiced to deserve that same respect. Yet, the value to conserve our empathy is overshadowed by the belief that our looks define who we are, motivating our insecurity.


But Jamil wants to change that. She raised a hypothetical question on a post on February 22 asking, “if today was my last day on earth, did I live it well? Rather than could everyone see my abs, or was I thin enough for the patriarchy?” In other words, if she were to die tomorrow, could she rest peacefully knowing she lived life to the fullest? Even though the topic she addressed may have been difficult for many to process, it is nevertheless an important factor in our lives that we cannot overlook. The harsh reality is that one’s time is not meant to be consumed for appeasing others. If that is the case, then people should reconsider their values.


Regarding Jamil’s workout sessions, they achieved notable success. On May 1st, Jamil happily remarked that “we did a shame-free workout! Baggy clothes, toast with raspberry jam, disco music, and a glittery lip. Everyone was so nice.” The feel-good focus of Jamil’s approach to her session may have been attributed to the positive feedback of her action. Instagram user ecatherine22 commented, “you’re so awesome! Galloping whilst eating a sandwich is the only content I need.” User “psa_gal” agrees, describing that Jamil’s efforts were “so inclusive, so accessible, [and] utterly gorgeous!” Another commenter, “mandiapple”, provided “love it. Enjoy it! Why does being active have to be boring or painful? It doesn’t!”

It does not, indeed. Of course, some individuals who actually enjoy strenuous workouts have the right to do so. And people who need to lose weight for legitimate health reasons should not be ashamed to take action for their own sake. But the purpose of Jamil’s work was not to criticize exercise itself. Rather, she wanted to condemn society’s restricted approach to the practice via its toxic appearance norms.


As Jamil concluded in her post, “we were sweaty and cringe and united in our insistence that everyone deserves to be happy and deserves to do the things that make them happy regardless of what they look like, their shape, their age, their wardrobe, their ability, their athleticism, or how they look when they move.” A lot of work needs to be done for society to finally change its ways, but Jamil’s perseverance serves as a step in the right direction that all of us should strive for.


Because who doesn’t deserve to feel unconditionally good about themselves?