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Image / Editorial

‘I was 12 and had liposuction’: Jameela Jamil’s moving interview with Sam Smith is worth watching


By Jennifer McShane
16th Mar 2019
‘I was 12 and had liposuction’: Jameela Jamil’s moving interview with Sam Smith is worth watching

Here at IMAGE, we firmly believe in loving the bodies we’re in. But it doesn’t stop any of us, at one point in our lives, perhaps wanting to try and make a change. As women, we’re constantly surrounded by the ideal that happiness equates to being thin and pretty. Or, and we have Kate Moss to thank for this charmer, that nothing “tastes as good as skinny feels.”

Both are false.

You can be thin and miserable, curvy and joyful. And for now and evermore, cake will always taste better than being slim.

The same is also true when it comes to men. A man’s weight just isn’t in the public domain the same way because men aren’t criticised the same way. So we tend not to hear stories about men who have body dysmorphia.

Related: Jameela Jamil’s good looks are irrelevant – what she’s saying matters

Actress and dedicated body positivity activist Jameela Jamil, says that as a result, a shame culture and a lack of information exists for men that is barely spoken of when it comes to body image.

She actively runs a social media movement entitled ‘I Weigh’ to encourage young women to denounce society’s intense focus on appearances, but this week, to mark a year of the movement, she decided to bring men back into the conversation and spoke to singer Sam Smith about what he says has been a lifetime struggle to get in a positive space when it comes to his weight.

Related: How to be body confident when the world makes you feel fat and ugly

It’s clearly an emotional topic for Smith; a worldwide superstar of immense success, yet he says he still can’t bear to take his t-shirt off in public to go swimming. “Toxic masculinity hangs over me – it doesn’t feel right for a man to talk about his weight.”

The interview explored myriad other issues surrounding body image including bullying, dysfunctional eating and body dysmorphia. The 26-year-old singer then told Jameela that he underwent liposuction at the age of 12.

“When I was a kid, I was chubby,” he said. “But when I say kid, I mean five or six-years-old. It would get worse and worse and worse. I was holding a lot of weight in my chest.”

“When I  hit 11-years-old, I went to the doctors. My mum – she was very clever about it. I was so self-conscious that it was affecting my mood every day and my life as a teenager. They examined my body and examined my chest, and I was holding a lot of estrogen in my chest.”

Related: I’m fat and pregnant, and finding maternity clothes is next to impossible

“I genuinely had breasts. I fully had breasts,” he told Jameela. “I had liposuction. I was 12 years-old, and had liposuction.”

Fat Shaming 

Smith recounts a public fat-shaming incident that affected him psychologically and physically. When it came to the release of his second album, Smith said that he felt he had to look skinny – and uphold the weight loss – to avoid what he and Jamil agreed was a stereotyped narrative that meant his being fat equalled him being lonely and unhappy.

“A big part of my being happy recently is giving into the fact that I am a human being.”

So much of the candid interview was positive; Sam has said talking to Jameela has changed his life but he also spoke openly about fame and his struggle being in the public eye. If he had the chance to do this all again, he says, he wouldn’t. “I became famous at 20. Part of me died. No one treats me the same… When it comes to love and my romantic life, I still feel like a 16-year-old boy.”

Smith was eloquent, raw and honest throughout and the entire interview is so moving.

Watch it below:

 

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