As well as her role in NBC’s The Good Place, Jameela Jamil has become known as a fierce campaigner for a more positive approach to body image. From taking on the Kardashians’ “waist trainers” and stomach-flattening lollipops to calling out tabloids and magazines that seek to profit from pitting women (and their bodies) against one another, Jamil is so fiercely passionate about changing the way that women are represented in mainstream media, she even launched her own campaign, #IWeigh. While it’s always encouraging to witness a person in a position of power speaking out against those things in life that are designed to make us feel inferior, Jamil’s voice is actively making a difference. Kim Kardashian deleted her advert for appetite suppressants on Instagram, for example, and now, Avon (USA) has decided to remove its latest marketing campaign, designed to promote and sell an anti-cellulite cream.
“Dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs),” read the adverts, which showed an image of a flawless woman in her underwear. Taking to Twitter, Jamil wrote: “And yet EVERYONE has dimples on their thighs, I do, you do, and the CLOWNS at @Avon_UK certainly do. Stop shaming women about age, gravity and cellulite. They’re inevitable, completely normal things. To make us fear them and try to ‘fix’ them, is to literally set us up for failure.” The campaign was actually designed by Avon USA, who responded directly to Jamil on Twitter: “Hi Jameela, we completely understand where you’re coming from. We realise that we missed the mark with this messaging. We have removed this messaging from all future marketing materials. We fully support our community in loving their bodies and feel confident in their own skin.” The brand has also published an apology on its Twitter account, @AvonInsider, which says, “We hear you and we apologise. We messed up on our Smooth Moves Naked Proof messaging. We want to let you know that we are working diligently to remove this messaging from our marketing materials moving forward. We're on it. We love our community of women.”
It’s reassuring to see a brand responding in such a positive way when called out in this way, particularly because the UK branch of Avon launched such a positive campaign in November last year. Aiming to highlight non-physical forms of violence against women and raise awareness of this, #EmbraceTheChange was a social-media-led campaign that donated money to Refuge and Women’s Aid. While Avon USA’s recent adverts seem incongruous with this, it is at least promising that such a large global brand took the time to recognise its mistakes, apologise and remove the offending material.
And for anyone who may even attempt to undermine the significance of Jamil’s fight, she responded to criticism with the following tweet: “Adults, please stop telling people they need to be less sensitive about abusive and toxic advertising. We are old. Teens are less armed to spot and therefore avoid toxicity, for them it is hyper-normalised and many of them are not privy to the manipulation of advertising.” Clearly, it’s true what they say: not all heroes wear capes.