‘Are you fat and lazy?’ Jameela Jamil slams the term ‘fatphobic.’ Billboard in Times Square
Times Square is famed for its advertisements, but one in particular has piqued the interest of critics online.
The billboard, which features a distraught lady with her head in her hands—a famous diet-culture trope—asks rhetorically, “Feeling fat and lazy?” Meanwhile, a thinner, smiling lady named Deborah Capaccio, complete with her social media profile and website, is overlaid in front.
The advertisement, which is positioned “on the southeast corner of West 48th Street and Seventh Avenue,” according to the New York Post, has sparked outrage among viewers, including actor and activist Jameela Jamil.
The debate highlights broader concerns about diet culture, including the marketing of so-called “weight-loss” approaches and tools to susceptible consumers. The weight-loss industry was valued $78 billion in 2019, according to the March 2021 edition of The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market study. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession, that peak has now declined slightly, but the research warns that “providers are looking for a strong resurgence in 2021, as Americans are vaccinated and businesses reopen.”
Jamil slammed the large NYC billboard in a lengthy Instagram post earlier this week, writing, “This is a plainly fat phobic and also pretty ableist ad.” It irritates me greatly that we have yet to recognize cruelty and insult directed against obese people as hate speech. It’s still fat body hunting season.”
“With the majority of Americans being overweight,” she continued, “it surprises me how many people’s mental health we are so careless with, under the guise of caring about their physical health.”
The 35-year-old actress, who is best known for her role as Tahani Al-Jamil on NBC’s The Good Place, is outspoken about body image and disordered eating issues, often relying on her own experiences with anorexia. “People who are overweight are not always lazy or sick. She wrote, “Thin people aren’t always active and healthy.” “Because of ads like these and messaging like this, I was anorexic for 20 years and didn’t eat a meal for the majority of that time. Do you believe I could have done anything if I had the energy? I couldn’t clean, I couldn’t exercise, and I couldn’t even brush my teeth. This is a condensed version of the information.