OK, enough of J*meela J*mil’s woke crusade against influencers


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OK, enough of J*meela J*mil’s woke crusade against influencers

We really watching this ‘intro to feminism 101’ awakening play out in real time, huh?

If you had told me even a few months ago that there would soon exist in the universe something more grating and annoying than sponsored posts for Instagram’s bullshit diet teas, then I would not have believed you. But welcome to 2018, where anything is possible! Nowadays, there is only one thing in the universe more annoying than influencers hawking teas that make you shit yourself — and that’s the saga of Jameela Jamil complaining about influencers hawking teas that make you shit yourself.

As though the performative goodness of The Good Place has suddenly crossed over into real life, Jameela’s criticism takes out Kim Kardashian, Cardi B, Iggy Azalea and anyone else she considers “double agents for the patriarchy.” And in the the process, the jabs and thinkpieces and “funny” posed videos become even more annoying than the ads or the influencers ever were.

A quick history lesson here: The pop feminism at the heart of this debate isn’t new, however well it might fit into 2018’s cancel culture. It’s the same kind of feminism that gave us “girl bosses”, “yass queen”, millennial pink and a repackaging of any nuanced intersectional feminism to be delivered in 140 characters or less. It’s having a group chat called “boy bye” and paying 50 bucks to tattoo the Venus symbol on your ribcage for the ‘Gram. It’s feminism that relies on attacking other women and cancelling them for RTs, rather than questioning problematic behavior (like this article! meta!) and opening the space for other voices in a deeper discussion.

I couldn’t help but wonder: when the 2.0 feminists of old made space for us, the new generation, did they hope that we’d use that space to hope that popular singers “shit themselves in public”? Or like, would they think that that was obnoxious and childish and fucking dumb? Would they say to themselves “hey, while you’re making all this fucking noise about other women buying into the patriarchy, there are bigger issues that you could be using your platform for and there are other ways that the patriarchy is literally fucking us all over”? Would they say “hey, we’re really glad you suddenly discovered remedial feminism while promoting your new shows, but this whole tirade is completely lacking in nuance and complexity, and also, there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism anyway, duh”? Who knows ultimately but also yes, yes they would say those things.

Is this whole debacle opening anyone’s eyes to anything new? Like, this is the world of Insta influencers. It irritating and it’s useless and it’s literally predicated on the idea of the over-produced, the fake, the artificial. Does anyone really believe that drinking Cardi B’s special brew will help you drop 25lbs from everywhere except your ass? No. Just like nobody really believes that Instagrammers sleep in bedrooms like this one, or that their sponsored posts exist because they just really really love Colgate toothpaste. But influencers, particularly elite celeb influencers like the ones Jameela is trolling, are there to entertain us, and so we become complicit in the lie and contribute to an unhealthy discourse for the sake of entertainment. Celebrities have openly admitted photoshopping and lying on social media. There are entire subreddits devoted to it. It sucks. But it’s news to nobody.

The annoying thing is, this whole saga does raise important issues about body image and the effect apps like Instagram have on our mental health (which can be pretty devastating, especially for young girls). And yes, at its core, it’s great to see more high profile women espousing feminism unapologetically in (even its most embryonic form). But what it is also does is turn that debate — which has existed for years without a thin, famous face attached to it — into a sideshow.

Yes, we need to stop buying into the lie of Instagram diet teas, and yes, we need to challenge why we’re still so obsessed with becoming simultaneously thinner and thiccer. But please, let’s not appoint Jameela Jamil as gatekeeper of that important debate, lest it become nothing more than influencer infighting and soundbites on the TL.