March 30, 2023
DJ and influencer Flex Mami joins Jameela this week to discuss Flex’s experience finding her voice as a podcaster and now a DJ, her experience with parasocial relationships, the healthy and unhealthy dynamics between anyone with a platform and their audience, fighting to understand minds rather than change them, being the salve instead of being the gasoline, and more.
Follow Flex Mami on Instagram @flex.mami & Twitter @flexmami
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
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156 — Flex Mami
Jameela Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast against shame. I hope you’re well. I hope you’re fucking ready for an episode that is full of defiance. This is a very rebellious episode. It’s not without controversy. It might even piss people off. But what’s the fun in having a podcast if you don’t occasionally ruffle people’s feathers? And today’s guest is absolutely ideal for that, because she’s a provocateur. She is an extraordinary social commentator and she’s an amazingly self-reflective human being, and she’s just bursting with originality. She’s going to do everything her way, and I find her incredibly inspiring. I’ve been following her for about five years online, telling all my friends about her and trying to get my followers to follow her, because I think that we would all be better off if we thought and felt a bit more like her. So you might know her off of Instagram as Flex Mami. And she’s also got podcasts and she’s a radio deejay. She has a book out, like she’s just a kind of everything, you know, she’s a fashion influencer, a beauty inf she’s just she’s also just like a vibes influencer, right? She’s someone who, when I’m losing myself a little bit, I’ll flick onto her page and then I will watch her speak with such a sense of just being in her body. And it will remind me to like, buck up and stand up straight and fight for what I believe in and be willing to make mistakes, be willing to be fallible. Like I think we all fall into that trap of thinking that because especially because we are women, especially women of color, like we have this extra responsibility to be perfect, not piss anyone off. And sometimes that does actually get to me occasionally, not as often as maybe it should. But she emanates, refusing to bend to society’s will. And so in this episode we talk about a lot of things, but we mostly focus, I would say, on the responsibility of someone who chooses to use that platform to speak up about social issues and what it’s like to be in the position of that person who takes the fuckin mic and runs with it and how you have to learn on your feet and how the public are supposed to hold you accountable. Sometimes the ways in which they do it, aren’t always helpful. Sometimes the ways in which we all speak to each other isn’t cool or helpful, that we are becoming anti-growth in our pursuit of perfection. And as you know, the I Weigh motto has always been progress, not perfection. As the saying goes, perfection is the enemy of good and the perfection is the enemy of progress. And and so we talk a lot about that. And and it’s a conversation that a lot of people in her position don’t have because I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Or imperfect or human even in that they get annoyed and they have feelings and they are real and their blood does run red and hot and angry and spicy. But Flex just refuses to lose her humanity just because she has a large following. And I think it’s really important. And I think it’s not just about influencers or famous people or people with big platforms. It’s it’s a flare. It’s a flare signal to all women that in all kinds of different insidious ways, we are expected to bear unbearable weight and we don’t actually have to. It is not our responsibility to be perfect. It is not our responsibility to do everything for everyone. We are entitled to self preserve. In fact, it’s vital that we do for our survival. We are allowed to draw boundaries. We are allowed to change course. We are allowed to change our minds. We are allowed to change our minds back again after that. We reserve the right to grow because that is how we will learn the most. And that’s how we will we will reach our true potential. And so that’s what a lot of today’s message is is two women who are both a little bit fed up and pissed off and confused, but who are still very much so game for the fight. We just want everyone to recognize that a lot of us are on the same side and we’ve got to stop nit picking each other to death. We can’t be all like all cops are bad and then go around behaving like cops. We’ve got to like, we’ve got to chill the fuck out a little bit. And so I hope this episode sets you free a little bit today. I hope it allows you the space to even privately be a bit irritated with the way that we carry things out in the name of justice, because sometimes we can be a bit shit to each other and that’s not helpful. But it isn’t just like a negative moan. It’s also like a hopeful burst of energy as to how we can all improve the way that we treat others, but mostly ourselves. It’s so much about the grace that we need to give ourselves, and so it’s a bit rebellious. I hope that you like it. If you don’t, I am confident you will let me know. Please be polite when you do. But I love hearing from you and I love this woman. I think she’s so smart. The way she speaks is just like soundbite gold. I don’t even know how the fuck I’m going to find clips for this on Instagram because everything she says is so great. But I’ll let you do the falling in love now. Go find everything she does. Go find everything she says. Really listen to her. This is the wonderfully free Flex Mami. Flex fucking Mami. Welcome to I Weigh. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for us to get this shit together. I blame myself fully. I love you. I worship you. And I’m so thrilled you’re here. Welcome.
Flex Now you leading with accountability.
Jameela I’m leading with accountability. It was totally my bad. I. I have. I feel like I’ve been. I say on you as if I’m sort of some sort of a rash. But I feel like I’ve been talking about you publicly for like, five years.
Flex Yeah. Happy anniversary.
Jameela You. You caught my attention. Yeah. Happy anniversary it is around this time. It’s almost as long as I’ve known about the I Weigh movement. I became obsessed with your makeup. That was how we first, like, came into contact with each other. And I kept on posting all the time about your sick eye make up looks, and. And I feel like now you and I have both been outdone by teenagers on TikTok, but back in the day, people thought we were people thought we were impressive back then. But then since then, I have watched you grow into going beyond just style and beauty into becoming someone that people really look up to as almost like a big sister figure on the Internet. As someone who’s incredibly real, you promote confidence, you promote accountability. You have done some amazing work around social justice, but you’re a very varied human being. And I think what I love about you is that it’s very rare to find someone on the Internet, especially a woman, especially a woman of color or a black woman who doesn’t feel like we all have to just stay in our lane. You don’t have a lane. You have occupied all of the fucking lanes, and it feels to me like you are trying shit out. And I find that personally very inspiring because that’s very my vibe is just like
Flex Thank you babe.
Jameela To figure it out as I get along. And so yeah, I just wanted to say all that, that I, I really appreciate what you’ve been doing and I’ve been watching you from afar, and I’m just so happy that you’re here now. So how have you been your whole life?
Flex I’ve been good, honestly. A phrase that I used quite a bit and my mom bestowed upon me is that I’m blessed and highly favored. I think she got it from the Bible, but who knows if that was like a manifestation or just an observation. But either way, it’s kind of how I feel all the time. Doesn’t really feel lucky. I wouldn’t say I wake up every day and I feel lucky, but I always feel quite pleasantly surprised.
Jameela So what’s the distinction? I think that’s interesting.
Flex I feel like lucky people are always quite surprised when another great thing happens, whereas I think I can get quite jaded. I’m like, Of course another great thing will happen, which means that I’m not really resilient. Like I’ve got to work really, really hard at being resilient because in my head things should just go well. So when things don’t go well, I’m like, Oh my God. I can’t believe my fame has been taken away. It’s quite dramatic. I’m working on it though.
Jameela I appreciate that. I mean, I think that’s I think that’s really fucking great. I think it speaks to like an innate optimism. And as I said earlier, confidence that you have from the first second I saw you and I think you you were like, you didn’t have like a huge following back then like you do now. But I was so struck by your confidence and like, just the there’s like a just like a beauty that just, like, radiates out of you. And and I think part of that comes from the fact that you’re not you’re not looking for the worst case scenario like I have been. I am the exact opposite of that. I am only I’m high hopes, low expectations, and that is what keeps me sane. So therefore it means I’m more robust when the shit hits the fan. But it all. But I think I probably lead a different kind of jaded life in that I, you know, like they say that Poppy Jamie was amazing on this podcast where she explained that our brains are are built to predict and protect and we have 80% negative thoughts. So we have to fight really hard to make sure that that 20% that we’ve got left is rigorously and defiantly filled with as much positive thinking as possible. And I feel like you’ve got that. So have you always been this way? You got this from your mom or has this been like a process? Because I’d like to be a bit more like you.
Flex I would say. I would really say I got it from her because I don’t think I thought about myself critically or externally until I was about, I don’t know, 18. I just know I didn’t
Jameela What? How? Were you denied magazines and televisions like are you did? Like what’s happened? How have you done this? As a teenage girl. But how?
Flex And not in the way that I do now. I think that I’m so self-interested now in a very self-referential way. I’m always looking at how who I am in relation to everything around me, the thoughts around me, the people around me. It wasn’t the case. I lived in a very insular bubble where I remember being, I think it was 18 or something. Now two two main thoughts. 19. I was breaking up with my boyfriend at the time, and the key phrase that he used that stuck with me since then. He was like, You do realize the world doesn’t revolve around you. And I didn’t, because in my head I felt as though I was valid and having feelings and thoughts and nuance and whatever. But I didn’t necessarily view anybody else in that way. And so I’d spend all this time in my head fantasizing, imagining, really creating a very complex world in my brain that didn’t need the reference point of real life to bolster it and to add value. And so when I used to really have this mentality, especially Pre-social media when I was maybe 19, 20, why would anybody care what I think? I care what I think? Why would anybody else care what I think? Why do I have to share? Why do I have to have an opinion? I was really living in that camp because up until then, the most important things to me was the Sims and fantasy books that I read and relationships that I conjured up in my head based on those books. And so I think that’s I think the curiosity is innate. I feel like the critical thinking is was a learned self-protection system, because if I didn’t find the words and the verbiage and the tools to express who I was in a way that other people would understand, I would get lumped in with the narrative that wasn’t suiting me.
Jameela Okay. So would you say then you feel like you had a happy childhood, like a sheltered childhood?
Flex It was happy in the way that I was left to my own devices. So like very avoidant attached baby. So I come from a single parent household and I’m the youngest of three siblings, so both my older brothers are five years older than me and ten years older than me. So in their own little ecosystem and they’re boys and they do their boy things, whatever. But I had that kind of household where we always had other family living with us. So cousins and uncles and aunts and nephews. And so I was always the youngest and therefore it was like, She’ll be fine. She’ll be right. You know, my brother would say things like, If you said that you didn’t want to eat dinner, Mum wouldn’t make you eat it. She’d go, okay, go, go pick something else. If you said you didn’t want to go to that school excursion. Okay, well, what do you want to do? And then I’d just be left to my own devices.
Jameela That is the thing, isn’t it? That’s the thing. I’m the baby of my family and that I have four siblings, and I feel like your parents. Our parents get a lot of their neurosis out with the first few kids because they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Like I notice that I’m like helping raise the second dog at the moment. My first dog, I was so much more neurotic about, and the second dog I’m just like, she’ll be fucking fine.
Flex She’ll be fine.
Jameela Yeah. And so I do think that there is like a a real luck to, to not being the test subject for parents, who especially in their generation, had way less information than we have, you know? There was way less help, way less support and way less kind of openness around the subject of parenting and mental health, etc.. But it was. That’s interesting.
Flex So was I happy or was I protected. I don’t know.
Flex It’s hard to know now, even when I started seeing a psychotherapist a couple of years ago, I really had to learn how to feel feelings and not, you know, intellectualize feelings. I still struggle with that now.
Flex So who knows? I don’t know how I felt then. I told myself a bunch of stories about my childhood that would make it neutral at worst and good at best.
Jameela I think that’s wonderful. And I also I really love the powerful resilience of your, like defiant, positive thought was also like you are a woman living in a patriarchal world. You are a black woman who I believe was raised in Australia, which,
Jameela there can be some racial disparity and racial tension there, especially as we have in the UK and the US in all in different insidious and aggressive ways. And and yet you, you have a kind of like like I said, there’s this innate, unshakable, immovable thing not to say that you aren’t capable of your own vulnerabilities, of course you are. But there’s like a decision you seem to have made either consciously or unconsciously, that like, I’m going to make the fucking best of this. I’m not going to I’m not going to give weight or too much attention. It’s not I don’t think you’re someone who doesn’t acknowledge anything bad or tricky that’s happened. You seem like incredibly self-reflective person, which is why so many people turn to you for so much life advice now. But I, I do think that you have kind of and I feel quite similar in the way that I don’t wish to be defined by any of my previous experiences. I wish to be defined by how I frame my personal experiences and and I feel like we’re in a really tricky place in social media right now where there’s a lot of talk of identity, a lot of talk of of of understandable victimhood. And I don’t mean victimhood in the way that it’s now been like kind of destroyed. But people are recognizing the ways in which they have been victimized. But there’s a lot of labels going on and a lot of encouraging of like you must boundary yourself in every way you can, which I also stand for. I believe in boundaries. I believe in boundaries. But it feels as though we’re almost wrapping we’re encouraging people to wrap themselves up so much in bubble wrap that we could possibly deny them a bit of resilience.
Flex Absolutely. And I also think that.
Jameela I don’t mean to sound like Piers Morgan or something, but, you know what I mean.
Flex Everyone’s like, wait a second, I understand what you’re saying. I feel as though the labels we used to draw people in and do great context around who we are and why we are that way are those same labels that repel people because we feel as if we’re not understood as intended, then we must not be on the same team and therefore you are abolished from my mind space, you’re abolished from my physical space. You do not get to engage. And there’s like, I don’t think there’s a fine line between self-protection and harm reduction. I think it’s a quite distinct line. I feel as though we don’t use them well. I think when we’re looking for I think we participate in too much self-protection, as if life shouldn’t have ups and downs and blacks and whites. Moments of friction and tention to encourage growth. I don’t want to use diamond analogies and Phenix rising from the Ashes analogy. But you really don’t know bad until you’ve experienced good. You really don’t know wrong until you’ve experienced right and all of those things. And so the harm reduction approach to living is like, I am going to experience terrible things. How do I reduce the long term impact it has on me, if I can?
Jameela Yeah, that’s exactly it. I’ve spoken on this podcast before quite recently about this clip I saw Esther Perel talking about this very subject where she’s like, Hang on. Like some of these things aren’t pathologies. Like some of these things aren’t anxiety disorders. Some of you are just anxious, because shit is wrong. Like, Oh, you’ve been through a breakup or your parents are getting a divorce or people are taking away abortion rights. There’s loads of reasons to feel anxious that don’t mean you are an anxious person. It means you are having an appropriate response to an environment. It doesn’t mean it’s going to change, doesn’t mean you’re always going to feel that way. You are just responding to environmental factors. You’re nodding.
Jameela So I feel like that’s something that you resonate with. And it’s a it’s it’s it’s hilarious that I start sweating as soon as I even enter into the subject of like of asking. Not as in I’m not with you. I feel that. I feel incredibly, incredibly safe. I mean.
Flex Don’t sweat babe don’t sweat.
Jameela No, no, not yet. Not with you. No that. But like. In a time where where I am trying to increase mental health awareness, I want people to be able to find the help and diagnoses, medications and support systems that they can find. But I also want to make sure that I don’t I don’t tip over into encouraging people to not activate their resilience because we’re going to fucking need it because shit is not going to get easier. Does that make sense?
Jameela But it feels like there’s a stigma around even saying that because we’ve gone into like bubble wrap mayhem. And and I you know, I I’m I’m trying to make sure that I’m not just a product of my generation of, like, stiff upper lip and you know be stoic and carry on. I’m trying to find the balance because.
Jameela Because with shit falling apart the way it is, it’s very important that we have some form of like not just protection mechanism, but like an ability to get back up and fight back.
Flex Yes, because a lot of what we’re experiencing are short term solutions to lifelong issues. So if I can just unfollow that account now, I’ll feel better. It’s like, okay, but you haven’t really addressed the friction that you experience when you interact with a certain person or when you interact with a certain conversation. That’s not happened yet. So when do you want to do that? Or people who find as though. I don’t know, like. It’s tricky because I can imagine you and I, for a lot of people, are the conduit to a lot of the learning that they need to do. A lot of the experiences that they need to have, a lot of hard conversations they need to start within their own circles. But becoming a conduit and being a scapegoat. It looks like the same thing these days.
Jameela Wait elaborate on that.
Flex So for example, two years ago, for two years I did a podcast with a fellow black woman called Bobo. It’s called Bobo and Flex, and we talked about just identity and racism and misogyny and misogyny on feminism and sexual feminism. And it was fun and funny because we had the same kind of nuanced approach. It was light but deep. We’d make a joke about how we were complicit in misogyny and then be like, you know, let’s talk about philosophy. And it was just how I would talk to any friend about these topics. But when we garnered an audience, they would say things like, You know, I want to learn more about internalized racism and dating. And we’d say, okay, cool. Like we can talk about our own personal experiences. But then if someone would say, I want to talk about how fragmented black homes impact, you know, everyone is like, Well, I don’t talk about that. Well, if you don’t talk about that then how would I learn about that? Because this is where I come to do my learning. So if you don’t want to talk about that, don’t you think that your individual approach to this great a problem is stifling us from understanding? Maybe, but I don’t really care and so it’s like ok if you don’t care. Then don’t be offended if somebody else doesn’t know. And it’s like, No, that’s not how it works. Just because I can be your conduit to, you know, you now and you in the future, who has this information. I’m not your scapegoat when you can’t seek it out for yourself, not your only touchpoint, your only reference point for this conversation. And I think what became tricky is at one point it’s really validating to have these people be like, I learned so much from you. I like your approach. I like the way you create an open dialog versus I need you to do it.
Jameela Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s that. There’s a level of entitlement that I can only say that I relate to, and I understand that certain people especially, I think if you’re a woman, especially as a woman of color like it, it means that people do think, well, if you care about one issue, then you’ve got to care about everything. Well, it’s not even that you don’t care, it might just be that you don’t have the resources to be able to learn about and understand and then go on to be so, like affirmed in your understanding that you feel confident to educate, like it’s not even a matter of there’s a lot of things I don’t speak not because I don’t care cause I like, I don’t have the time or I don’t have the knowledge or I know I can’t be effective in that space.
Flex Yes. But also I would think if some nameless, faceless person comes to me and demands a certain level of teamwork, I don’t care to do that with you. I’ve got friends and family in my inner circle who require far more from me, and if I fatigue myself and exhaust myself trying to be that person for you.
Jameela Yeah meeting everyone’s individual needs.
Flex I can’t be that for people I actually care about. And so if we have to view in a binary way, which I think sometimes we do, I don’t care about some random stranger who replies this for me, it’s that simple. And when I was able to phrase it in that way, people, people kind of learned to distance themselves from the illusion they created through that parasocial relationship.
Jameela Because. Because like I said earlier, like people see you as like the big sister or the best friend on the Internet because you are so open and you are affirming and you’re fun and you’re who I think a lot of us would like to be, you know, like you you move online in a way that is very special, is very unique. And is it I mean, I know so many people now who who would like to exist in a similar way, not just online, but also they would like to walk that walk. But it does it does it does fuck up a boundary because we still don’t you know, we’ve developed social media influencers, as our kind of new celebrities, and celebrities have become the new gods since religion has sort of taken a bit of a backseat in our Western society and society at large. And so we don’t really have a lot of preparation as to how to how to have those relationships. And I think that got massively exacerbated in in the pandemic because we were all chronically online. I got, like I feel like I know you. We haven’t fucking met. Like I feel like I know you all like yeah she’s my friend. Like we DM, like I’ve needed to chill the fuck out because like my loving you from afar, based on what you choose to show me, does not represent a relationship. But I’m a 37 year old woman who checked my fucking self.
Flex But even so, I talk a lot about parasocial relationships and people like to have the idea that I don’t like that I love that.
Jameela Define a parasocial relationship.
Flex So Parasocial relationship is that relationship you have between you yourself and the things that you consume and the people whose media music you consume, the more context you get for them as a person, Whether it’s curated or real, you feel as though it creates a level of intimacy that in some ways is there but not at the potency you feel it at. So when I listen to my favorite podcasts, I think these are my people, this is my family. They’ve been with me through ups and downs. When I was in my lowest moment, I turn to them and it’s like, Well, you turn to their media that they made but them as a person. And we experience Parasocial relationships with our favorite band, our favorite podcast our favorite character in a book. It’s so fun and cool and normal. But what what we struggle with in a social media space is recognizing that we are kind of breaking the fourth wall in a way that we couldn’t with our favorite band. I was never going be able to talk to, you know, Pete Wentz in Fall Out Boy and be like, You know, when I listen to so and so and so, when I was a kid, it changed my life. But you can do that now. And so you get these small little nuggets of intimacy that build a very convincing picture for you. Well, Flex does DM me back and she does like my content and and I do show her when I buy new things. And she says that those things are really pretty. We are building something. Absolutely. And with all relationships, what do we have say it with me? Boundaries, expectations and standards. So if you want to you want to bridge that gap and be friends. Okay, cool. This is what it’s like to be my friend. I’m not uncool. I’m really not. I’m also not this one dimensional, happy go lucky person, you’re gonna catch you in an off day. And you’re gonna experience the moodiness and the temperamental nature. You didn’t expect that. Right. Because back when it was just a parasocial relationship, you could play that podcast whenever you wanted. You were solely the controller of this relationship. There was no request from me. Expectations from me. Now you’ve bridged that gap and you’re like, Wait a second. That’s so weird because I ask her question and she didn’t respond. Hmm. And ok think with me now, because I’m no longer just the 2D person in your phone, I’m a whole person, a real person. And in some ways, you don’t really like that. You like what you thought it was going to be like.
Jameela Well, that’s just it’s a weird thing where, like, suddenly they’re like, No, I want the real you. I want all of you. But then suddenly, when you act in a way that feels human or fragile or, you know, jarring, their like, wait, you’re not being very professional. You have a large, you have a large following and you are an influencer. Excuse me.
Flex Yeah. Be nice. Yeah.
Jameela I’ll screenshot this DM and so it can turn very quickly. So I think we also don’t know what what we want from those people. And like I said, I say we because I totally get caught up in that. Like I, I listen to, you know, I look at the. I love celebrity gossip. All right? That I’m trying to say I love I love celebrity gossip. And I, I always have. And I, like I get invested in these, like, completely ridiculous stories. And it’s a fun pastime for me. I don’t think I have a boundary issue with it, but I definitely relate to like just enjoying that world and and feeling some sort of way about people that you don’t know. And I never want to feel like I’m talking down about that. I get. I get it. I think you get it as well. It’s just about making sure that we we just chill the fuck out a little bit.
Flex Of course, it’s fun. And I guess you and I have more incentive to reconcile these incompatible feelings of being like, Oh, my goodness, I. I’ve experienced negative impacts of parasocial relationships. Have I been someone who is the reason why someone else is experiencing the negative impacts of a parasocial relationship?
Jameela So talk to me about that decision then to end that podcast and now move on to doing a radio show that that is kind of like far more in the social commentary and comedy space and what the reaction has been like that. Like why did you do it and and how did some people respond? Because I think it’s really interesting.
Flex So by when I had a similar approach where to some people it felt like a no fucks given, we were like because it wasn’t that deep to us. We were having these conversations that we would have been having offline, just allowing people to see them. And also a lot of what we were speaking to was our personal experience and just telling a story with my friend and I felt that everything that we ended up doing either had to be had to be disseminated in a way where it was completely void of offense, which wasn’t possible. As personalities, we are quite polarizing people. You know, I think so everyone who finds us hilarious, people find us, you know, gratingly annoying. Everyone who thinks we’re empowering people think that we’re conceited. It couldn’t help. And, as that profile grew or that Facebook page of the podcast, it felt as though we were having to suppress.
Jameela And censor.
Flex Who we were and censor in order to show up as people who were professional enough to be having these conversations on such a large scale. We didn’t want to do that. My aspirations not to be a lecturer, I don’t care. It had deviated so far from the original plan, which was just for us to talk about what we wanted to do in a space where others could listen, to us feeling as though if we’re going to take up this space on the Internet, we should do something of value with it. No. No. Like it should be a gift that we get to take up this space and it should be a gift for us to discern how we use it in a way that’s still healing and whole. And so one day we were talking to each other and we were observing this beef that had happened within the Facebook group. And what we were recognizing was people weaponizing their, people weaponizing the parts of their identity that overlapped with us. And so, you know, the Australian audiences felt like through they we know Flex much better than the black audience because, yes, she’s black, but she’s Australian. You don’t understand the cultural context here. And so we’re allowed to have these conversations because as fellow Australians we get each other. Or if people had had a similar dating experience, well, I know Flex would say this, and so she doesn’t need to weigh in on this conversation. Just know you’re in the wrong because this, this and this. And we’re like, this is just not cute anymore. It’s not fun. It’s not necessary. And so within one conversation we said, should we just shut down the page? Yeah, let’s shut it down. And then we deleted it.
Jameela Yeah. I think you’re not saying that, like, devoid of the fact that obviously we recognize that with a great power comes responsibility with a big platform means that we can’t be, like, totally fucking reckless. But if you’re just talking about your own personal experience and your own personal problematic, like the younger thoughts, I mean, that’s what makes Roxane Gay’s book A Bad Feminist like, such an iconic piece of work because it’s someone allowing themselves the permission to have grown and still be growing. And suddenly I don’t know if that book would be allowed now, like that book came in just before a tide of like where suddenly we we entered like in an era of of moral perfectionism. And I think that became kind of like really started in 2016, along with the MeToo movement, which kind of spearheaded a lot of other online activism movements. And then you had had all these other hashtags that sort of following it. And and then the pandemic came and and I feel like we suddenly we grew. I think it came from a really good place of just the fact that not a good place, but like not a bad place. What am I trying to say? I think it came like it came from a pure place. It came from a pure place of being impatient with inequality. But that impatience led to us trying to fast track people’s consciousness, psyche and and and and refuse to acknowledge that everyone’s a product of their environment. Like, I was so fuckin problem, I’m still problematic, but like, I was fucking problematic until I was like 30, you know, like I was a product of my environment. I was raised by problematic people. I went to school with problematic people. I had problematic teachers. And I was I was literally insane, you know, which led to a very intolerant and volatile attitude. So, so
Jameela I can’t hide from that. I refuse to hide from that. I’m very lucky that I’ve got listeners who do not hold me to standards of perfection. I’ve I’ve, I came came out swinging in 2018, being like feminist in progress just so that I would never be. And even then people tried to hold me to their standards, but I’ve personally been able to get out of it. But I think that you’re a very good example of refusing to be expected to live up to all these different people’s individual expectations of standards. And I think that’s really important. It’s why I wanted you to come here today is because I think that that’s so fucking vital right now, and it’s so fucking important for my listeners to hear that and to hear someone like you say that and to watch you continue to grow, continue to thrive, continue to enjoy yourself, and you haven’t died because people have criticized you for things you’ve carried on, you’ve grown and you’ve continued. And we all have reserved the right to do that.
Flex I’m living in a very loud and public and honest way, and I feel as though I put context around that very, very early on. And it’s like I’m not going to respond to people who live in immoral absolutes and who expect and it goes for both ways, like I used to. The friction and tension we found with that podcast in particular is that we were two black women talking about very black things and our audience was 80% non-black, if not 90% non-black. And so our audience developed this a this understanding of sorts that was incompatible with the reality they were living in. So it almost empowered people to speak on behalf of blackness or to speak as if they had experienced blackness or to be speaking about things without the nuance of going out into the world, interact with black people on an equal level, and saying, Do you think that’s going to fly? You know, I.
Jameela Well that that’s something that everyone I feel like is doing. We all know the jargon. We all know the words you’re talking about this on the phone, like cognitive dissonance, cognitive dissonance, cognitive dissonance, like all the we know all the terminology now, like all this, like academia has entered into our space and a lot of us don’t understand the system. And the way that I know that we don’t understand a lot of the terminology we use and we don’t really fundamentally understand it, is the fact that we think it can be fixed overnight Is the fact that we think it can be rushed is the fact that we think that we can discard people if they don’t get it right the first or second or 10th time. If you really understood these things, if you really understood how difficult capitalism will be to deconstruct how difficult patriarchy will be, to deconstruct, like if you were going beyond just someone else’s, like impressive words that you have read or listened to on a podcast. And I say this as someone who’s done that, I’ve spoken out of turn in this way because I, you know, read ideologies, but it just doesn’t it doesn’t, it doesn’t get you anywhere. So it’s really important to, like, take the time to live long enough and actually, like what Gloria Steinem says, like it’s not really about who you’re reading. Like that is important to diversify your portfolio, what goes into your brain. But who are you at lunch with?
Flex Get in the trenches.
Jameela Yeah man. And like and I think that was really that was a really poignant thing for me to hear. I had, like she said it to me I think maybe six or seven years ago I was like, Yeah, yeah, I need to be sitting with these people and, and witnessing the way that they see the world and even then I’ll never fully understand but.
Flex So also you can come face to face with your own ignorance because that was the thing that was getting me about, you know, positioning myself in a way where I would share this information about race and any philosophy, psychology or whatever. Every day I was being met with my own ignorance. Oh, you know, you spoke about self determinism, but you didn’t speak about determinism. Like, what do you think about that? And you might think you have free will, but have you consider that you don’t have free will I was like, Oh, okay. I’ve come face to face with my own ignorance. And it spurred me to learn. Those of us who were making that contact and starting those discussions and encouraging discourse and dialog on our platforms every day had another opportunity to come face to face with ignorance. And sometimes we get a [inaudible] and other times.
Jameela Oh yeah I’ve done a lot of painful public learning.
Flex we’re like give me a fucking break. Can I live for a second? Damn. Yes. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know. And today I know that I didn’t know. Give me a second. Give me a second.
Jameela And so what did that do to your happiness? Like, what does that do to your mental health? I know that you’ve spoken openly about your your mental health experience in your life, and I would love if you would feel like comfortable to talk about it now.
Flex Yeah, it just took me out of my fantasy, which I. I hope the world took that for me because the one thing that not the one thing, but my top three favorite thing about myself is that I can live in such a rich fantasy in my head. And I do. And I have found ways to bring that fantasy out and make it a reality. Who expects to quit their job in PR when they’re 20 and become a full time deejay? Not me. And it’s funny because then I did it. And then you start a business, you make some money and you travel the world, you make good friends. This is fantastical stuff, but that time of the world, it took me out because I had never seen people behave like this or interact like this. I’d never seen people not recognize what what team they were on. I had never seen people recognize that they were also complicit in the friction in their own community. I’d never seen people view so many regular people as the enemy. I’d never seen like it was. It felt like.
Jameela Are you talking about not just what you were experiencing. You were also. Are you talking about just generally what you were seeing out in the ether.
Flex Just the world in itself.
Flex Between today and tomorrow, your best friend became your enemy because she didn’t understand what intersectional feminism was. And it’s like, okay, maybe give her a second. She’s a white woman raised by white people. She’s going to take second. Because I remember having this conversation with a friend. I’m like, Do you think if I wasn’t so heavily impacted by these things that I would know so much about it? Be for real. As an incentive for me to understand the way the world affects me, right? As there’s an incentive for other people to understand the way the world affects them, takes another level of empathy and a need for interconnectedness and interdependence to be like, Oh, wait I could now figure out how the world affects other people. That’s not baby steps. Those are big girl, big boy, big steps. And I felt like it just took me out. And it I felt for the first time ever, really. Like I didn’t have agency that I was just floating around in a sea of resentment, anger, fear, discomfort, embarrassment, annoyance. And just when I thought there was a break in the current, I was like going down a waterfall and I was in a crash and drown. And I was like, and I. And I felt like if my current reality is deviated so far from my norm, imagine people who are already teetering. Like that space where the world was. Look, I never felt like the world was a bad place in the sense that, like I knew bad things happen, but, like, the world is quite good. No, no, no, no, no. Imagine if you already thought the world was a terrible place. 2016 and 20 and beyond. How are you going to recover from that? And you don’t? It’s tricky because I remember I had my first panic attack, my first social media driven panic attack. And I don’t really remember the the conversation in particular, but I was interacting with someone who was determined to misunderstand me. And I thought to myself. In. I don’t know how to phrase this in a way that doesn’t offend, but I don’t have to engage with you. I really don’t like we don’t live in an environment where I have to assume that everyone who knocks on my door is welcome to enter. It’s just not how it works. So if I’m going to take the time out to meet you at this level, even though you’ve come with criticism and disdain and anger, the very least you can do is hear me. And they didn’t want to hear me, but they were so determined on making sure I heard them, on multiple different platforms, yelling like taking these quotes out of context and just being really upset. And at one point I said, What do you want from me? What do you what do you really want for me? And they were like, I just want you to be knocked down a few pegs. And I was like, there you go. Done. and I just for the first time, I felt so fragile. I felt broken, I felt fragile. I didn’t have like my my happiness base set level or base level was just so, like down in the dumps. And I just couldn’t climb out because suddenly the world didn’t feel like an expansive place. It felt like a really small, evil place which contradicts the way that I feel, not, it doesn’t contradict the reality of what the world is like, but I felt so protected from it, whether it’s by the way I was raised or the way that I chose to show up, I just feel like we couldn’t recover. I would say the positive is, though, it helped with that avoidant attached mentality of being like, No feelings are good feelings, you know? I was like, No, I’m feeling things, so now let’s unpack them so I’m better for it.
Jameela Yeah, I think I think what you’re speaking to is something that a lot of people are feeling and can’t put their finger on. Right? A lot of us are feeling like fucking hell is this how we speak to each other? Is this what we’re doing? Do I have to cut my family members off if they’re like 80 and they have like some backwoods views and they voted for the wrong person? Do I have to? My grandmother’s got about six years left. Like, am I can I. Can I talk to her? Can I tell her
Flex Cancel her.
Jameela No, but like, what I’m. But I really like. I don’t mean it in, like, a vindictive way. I don’t mean it in like a like a a snarky way. I just mean that like, there’s this weird contradiction in the way that people speak to each other online and engage with each other in person. But because we spent way too much time online, I mean, I was doing 13, 14 hours a day during the pandemic. So I spent in the past majority. Yeah, I was doing the vast majority of my time. And so when I had my first big social media panic attack that led to, you know, me being on meds because it was so severe and it went on for so long and it became so dangerous for me to be left alone. It it was because I was just so fucking chronically online. If I’d got not gotten offline and actually spent more time out in the world with people who are thankfully mostly still able to conduct a kind and empathetic conversation where we have so much more in common than we have different and we have the same ultimate needs and really we’re all just fucking big babies who just want to be loved and want to be held and want to be safe. And want to tell people how we really feel. We’re just bigger now, but we have all the same needs.
Flex We’re still baby.
Jameela Yeah, we’re just bigger and we’ve got pubes like that. But but ultimately, like, none of those needs are fundamentally changed. And I think I think there is this massive rip in a lot of us, like those of us like especially those of us who care about social justice or, you know, those who seek to destroy social justice. All these people spending so much time in these dehumanizing platforms and then thinking that that is how the world works. Now, what’s dangerous is that there are actually that many people online so that maybe something like a fifth of the world, I think are on like Twitter, which is a fucking lot people. But it’s not everyone now.
Flex Everyone’s content creating and publishing thoughts.
Jameela Yeah, exactly. And and it’s important to know that that doesn’t represent the world, but it is starting to trickle out into the way that we do speak to each other interpersonally. And we have the power as individuals to decide not to do that. And we aren’t bad people. If we choose to offer people the benefit of the doubt, to offer people a little bit of humanity and empathy. And by the way, I was one of the fucking like pitchfork holding, you know, people. I think I said that Laurence Fox looks like a freshly wanked cock. Like, publicly, I don’t like that man, but. But like, but I was someone who was, like, flippantly, unbelievably rude. I said that Piers Morgan looked like shit stain smeared across our country. Now I don’t like those men. I fundamentally disagree with everything about them. But I do massively regret the way that I used language. I regret the way that I spoke about that. I think I thought I was being funny. I thought I sassy and I was like, Well, I’m a brown, queer woman, so, like, I can talk to white men. However, I feel I can do that. It just didn’t help anything. I was just being rude and I wasn’t actually moving the needle. I was getting like clapped and clicked at by the people who already agree with me. And I was putting off the people that I had an opportunity to convert by speaking with a bit more like grace. So I’m saying this like holding my hand up higher than anyone else and saying that like I’ve been there and I’ve taken a sharp turn away from that because we are losing like we are. We are fucked like we are like we are people, you know, taking away marginalized people’s right, left, right. And it’s not working. And it was and it wasn’t right. And we shouldn’t be we, we shouldn’t move like this. And and what you see online is not how you are actually supposed to conduct yourself as a human being. And I urge you not to, because it is bad for everyone, is bad for the people who put out the content that you like. It’s bad for you, it’s bad for, it’s bad for all of your relationships.
Flex But this is also the consequence of spending a lot of time thinking about yourself, but not who you are, and seeking out these really shallow labels and these shallow markers of connection to define how you operate. Because, you know. One of the skills or yeah, I would say one of the skills that allowed Bobo and I to have that podcast and to have these critical discussions was that we understood that not sharing the same views on most things actually didn’t automatically make her an other it didn’t automatically make her someone who I could not connect with in some capacity. It gave me more. It challenged me to view her in more of a nuanced fashion because of course people I thought, okay, we’re both black women, but both African. We’re going to see we on the surface are quite similar. Surely when we delve deep, we’re going to agree. And we didn’t I would say 85% of the time and now what? We would still have those conversations and laugh and ask clarifying questions and seek information. And it gave us this amazing opportunity to be in the line of fire and still protect each other, like I’m holding the weapon, I’m going to heal you after I’m the medic and the soldier and the priest all at the same time.
Jameela And you’re looking at each other. Yeah, you’re looking at each other as fully formed human beings as the as the sum of multiple parts, rather than then singling out one thing that you don’t like and using that to erase everything that you love. Like we do that as a culture now, regardless of your political ideologies, like with a celebrity, it’s like, Oh, they made one mistake, but they did like 4000 things right. But they did one thing wrong, erase everything good they did or erase everything we loved that they did. We we are we are very, very quick to discard because of the nature of social media and the nature of no, just technology. We can just be like, Nah, we can just turn it off. Like you can shut the world out with a button and it’s lonely.
Flex We learned how to we learned how to give grace without infantilizing each other, which I think people do a lot. If somebody makes a mistake and we like them. Oh, that’s just that is so small and so silly. Now we’re adults and we had opportunities to seek out information we just didn’t know. We didn’t know and and now we do. And, and, and also respecting that if if I’m expecting a certain level or if I’m expecting a certain level of intelligence or knowledge from someone, I too can make myself responsible for helping them for bringing them up with me as opposed to being like, you don’t know, go find out and come back. It’s like, No, in that instance, ok you really don’t see where I’m coming from. We’re going to spend the next hour talking about it, what else to do, like we can’t move on from here. You don’t see where I’m coming from. I don’t see where you’re coming from. I don’t want you to convince me that you’re right. I just want to understand. And that is missing the I just want to understand. They just say they’re curious. You’re a liar. You’re not curious. You’re nosy. When you meet a person and you can’t really reconcile between how could they live like this and believe this? How could they go there, but think that? Let’s unpack. Let’s ask them. Let’s help them help us in understanding.
Jameela Yeah it’s you’re you’re so yeah. Yes. Yes it is my is my response to what you just said.
Jameela We are. We are. We are. But we are so fallible. And also like all of the great art and all of the great thoughts and all of the great not all of the great comedy, but like a lot of the great comedy, you know, a lot of the people like you and me who people enjoy like. Most of the things that we enjoy or relate to, even if just secretly comes out of like fallibility, of human vulnerability, of human failures and and trials and and growth. And the growing pains are brutal. You know, but it’s it’s
Flex They are.
Jameela It’s also it’s also just like I think what worries me is that I’m not. Fuck. Okay. So you’re holding a bunch of privileged people to very, very high standards. I can live with that. World’s smallest violin. Right. But that means that on some level, you are also holding yourself to those same standards.
Flex Yeah because you expect
Jameela And therein lies the damage. Yeah, And don’t try to be because it’s not healthy, it’s not real. And you end up just doing, like, making topical progress rather than actually, you know, you’re afraid. I think Ayishat Akanbi was talking about the fact that that sometimes what we we most despise in other people is something that we see that reminds us of ourselves
Jameela that we that we have tried to cut out or ignore or discard. I’m paraphrasing. She’s way more fucking eloquent than me. But but she says that, like, we see something ugly in people that we know is kind of inside of ourselves. So we try and. Almost like murder it in them to to distance ourselves from it and
Flex Divergence tactics.
Flex It really is.
Jameela And it just it’s, it’s, it’s just so vital to your own growth to just be able to accept own and see your own shit like you are. You are not here to be perfect. What the fuck is the point of anything. What’s the point of activism. What’s the point in life? What’s the point in marriage and divorce and having kids if you’re not just like constantly stumbling, constantly making mistakes and constantly figuring this out together?
Flex And it becomes a cop out when you get to the point where you’re like, If I can’t be the best, I won’t try at all and it’s like, okay, yeah, I see. I see why that feels like a very self-soothing approach to being better. You know, I always say I want to be optimal. I take it back. I don’t be my best self. Like, part of me really quite enjoys the layers of myself that aren’t good for me long term. I like that I can sit on the couch for 12 hours and just read and become one with the fibers. I actually quite like that. I don’t want to defend sitting in the dark all day in the best part of summer, and yet I do it every day. I quite like that I have strong opinions that I’m able to share because when I’m wrong, I get an opportunity to be right. I get an opportunity to learn and to grow in a way that some of my most closed minded, judgmental friends will never get. Because the world to them is a series of really strong feelings that they keep in their brain and words they will never share. And that superiority complex is so fragile because their God complex and their insecurity complex is fighting every day and they’re fighting themselves. I don’t want to be my own enemy. No, no, no, no, no. I want to be my own, like racecar driver, nurse, warrior, accountant, via.
Jameela Ride or Die.
Flex It works. My own ride or die. I like the way that I trust myself. I trust my judgment. I trust my conviction. And I’m wrong a lot of the time. But, you know, we’ll do better babe. I don’t really get that right, but we’ll do better. People can’t give themselves that benefit of the doubt. And this pointing out pointing out I’m not saying be as self-interested as I am, because honestly, like, I’m looking back. It wasn’t great, however. Being someone who’s so fundamentally interested in my own personal philosophy and my own personal psychology means that in some way somehow accidental, you develop this need to understand other people. Well, I know that I’m like this, and I know that I became this way because of this, but why are you this way? You know, and you start to take these incidental things about people. And you you don’t pedestalize them, but you give them the time of day and you say, wow, at one point in time, you know, like I mentioned before, my close minded friends, at one point in time, you probably had way more freedom to share. And that was suppressed. And you were told, No, don’t share that here. Shut up. Children are meant to be seen and not heard. And so you internalize that and that’s the way that you are. But unlike me, you have this really clear view on the world. You know exactly who you want to be and exactly where you want to go and exactly what is right and exactly what is wrong. And while you may not be entirely right, you don’t struggle with this idea of second guessing every second move. You walk through the world with a level of security and that can be championed. However, would you like to hear a different point of view? Cool. Let’s have that discussion. And I think that the issue I mean, it’s not an issue with social media, but the implication of connecting with so many people is that we really have taken out the care and community like you do actually have to play an active role in the people that you engage with. This passive observer, like The Spectator forever, is fucking weird. It is very weird to just be a spectator in somebody else’s life and also feel like you can dictate how they do what they do when they do it. It makes more sense to grow up in a smaller community or to interact with the same people that go to your school and uni and your job and your work and feel like, Yeah, I can say something about the way you behave because in some ways I’m impacted, but I can also make an impact. I can call you in and I can call you out and I can follow up and I can connect ideas in a way that you can understand because I’m building into you like you’re building into me. I can’t be swiping, swiping, swiping, making vaguely gross like overestimations about a person and then be surprised when they don’t accept it in the way that I see it. Surely you can’t be surprised by that?
Jameela No. So where do we go from here? Right. We’ve done a lot of talking about the fact that we don’t like the way certain things happen online. We don’t think it’s good for those people to be held to those same standards that they’re holding others to. We’ve spoken about the things that the ways in which it impacts people’s mental health the way it’s impacted our mental health. But where do we go? How do we move forward, in your opinion?
Flex I feel like moving forward would be this really contradictory blend of maintaining the same level of hyper individualism but also encouraging community. And what I mean by that is, you know, people know how to talk about themselves in labels that help someone quickly identify who they might be. So when they say I believe in woman ism, you say, okay, I get it. It’s like, well, you don’t actually get it, though. And so I think that what how we move forward is the individual person needs to take away more responsibility with sharing who they are as they are. It’s speaking up generally, not just waiting to be spoken to. It’s putting context around your own story and your own narrative and not relying on platitudes like I’m a curious person, or I was born in Australia to dictate how people understand you. It’s actually carrying a level of vulnerability in your human interactions. It’s actually interacting. It’s actually connecting. It’s actually communicating, stepping out, speaking, and making sure that you are understood as intended, not just performing the surface of what it is to be a person within a community. And I think people will find that really, really challenging. And I think they’ll now have a lot of once that ends up being done.
Jameela Do you mean hiding behind your kind of identity politics. What do you mean by that?
Flex Yeah of course, hiding behind your identity politics, but also playing
Jameela Rather than showing the full self.
Flex Yeah, because we all know the parts of ourselves that will be that aren’t going to be accepted. We all know the parts of ourselves that we’ve created shields around. We’ve created narratives around to make sure they just get like it all.
Jameela They’re more digestible.
Flex They’re more digestible. We know when we’re doing that. We know. Right. And so I feel as though when we all take this individual responsibility showing up wholly, we’re going to have a lot more empathy for the people that we berated for not doing it right. You will come to find out that it is not fun to be exposed to the world. However, it is a requirement of us growing and healing together. Also, I think that we all need to understand what we think community is on a practical level. I’m not talking like we’re in a community because we all like Harry Styles. No. No, no. I’m talking on a day to day. Where is your third place? Who are the people that you interact with that now become your source of education, your source information, the people that you compare yourself to. To measure and say, Am I doing it right? Am I doing it wrong? Because people don’t have that.
Jameela And how do my words and behaviors like impact others because we don’t get to see that one when we’re online like no one who’s like being rude to me like online can and this isn’t just about like me. I’m saying this is with everyone. I’m just using my own personal experience can see the fact that I’m hurt by the way that they’re talking to me. And I think if they could see my face, that perhaps they would like soften the blow because I’m just like, one mentally ill human is trying, but in when all we can see as each others words like it’s like my boyfriend and I and I fight like only ever. We only ever like actually get in a fight when it’s over text. Our arguments are resolved so quickly when we’re right in front of each other and we can see each other’s like pain or empathy, but it’s immediately removed. We’re immediately like bastards to each other over text.
Flex And we’ve been trained that way because for so long we were we were told social media isn’t real, you just go and then you have a little fun with it, you know? Little character archetype.
Jameela Yes. We haven’t caught up.
Flex And I think we’re kind of in denial. About how much.
Jameela So you’re sayin get out there, touch grass, like touch each other? Sounds a bit wrong, but more like.
Flex Touch grass touch each other. Stop the people are.
Jameela Interact, engage and see it for real.
Flex Too many people think they can know what they have an experience, and maybe some of us can, but the majority of us cannot. You think you know how to have hard conversations? You think you know how to interact with people who aren’t like you? You think you have this expansive view on the world. Yeah, I can guarantee you, show me your inner circle. It’s people who are just like you, who think just like you, who will validate you for existing, who don’t feel responsible for your self betterment, your spiritual growth. And that’s your issue because you have cocooned yourself in this way where you can say, I’m fine as I am. I promise. No changes need to be made. But everybody else, yeah, there’s there’s some work to be done. And if they if they all do the work, then. Then I’ll rise up with them. No, that actually doesn’t work. There will not be one scapegoat or one conduit who’s going to, like, emancipate all of us. We actually have to do the work on our own and together. Not either or. And I think that reality is just too much for people to understand. Like I always think when I have a hard conversation I’m like, this conversation can happen, I can tell you how I feel. I can tell you that I’m uncomfortable. I can tell you that I’ve got solutions because I’ve done it before. I didn’t come out of the womb being like an Excuse me, people who’s made me uncomfortable. Do you, no, I had to keep doing it and getting it wrong. I think also people don’t realize that the way you’re able to get through life in a scot free way is because you are the beneficiary of somebody else’s work. Somebody else had to learn how to be empathetic and open minded and agreeable and kind and patient so you could be the beneficiary of a harmonious existence. And when you start to realize that, like, think about, you know, I don’t not everyone has a great relationship with their mom, but I can be who I am because my mom was who she was. I wasn’t in an abusive relationship. I wasn’t. I never felt as though I lacked when I was little. I never felt as though I couldn’t do what I wanted to do because she had to instill that in me. I’m the beneficiary of her effort years and years to this day. She’s doing long service to be my mom so I can wake up every day and be like, I’m blessed and highly favored. Things always work out and I’m so grateful for that because I can recognize that for what it is. You be the beneficiary for your community, be the person that needs to exist. So stuff happens.
Jameela Yeah be the person that opens people’s minds. As I’ve grown and changed and especially like as as my as the way I move through, social justice has changed. Like I want to be the person that brings people together. I don’t want to be part of the fucking division anymore, and I don’t want to seek to immediately change people’s minds. I’d like to at least have the opportunity to understand them, then perhaps open their minds and then maybe fucking change their minds. Like my approach has completely transformed. Even over the course of this podcast, I’m so much less inflammatory, and it’s because I actually want change. Sometimes I wonder do like to some of the people that that speak really violently online, do they want change or do they want to fight? And so I think I think it’s about asking yourself, like, who do you want to be? Right. Any of the listeners right now, who do you want to be? Do you want to be like the gasoline or do you want to be the salve? Because I want to be the fucking salve. Like, I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of how upset everyone is and how angry we are with each other. I’m exhausted. I really want to just chill. I don’t want my whole identity to be fighting all of the time. And and I think you resonate and I think that’s why you’re some of your content has become, like increasingly light hearted and good for you.
Flex Light. I want to be one tool in the toolbox. You know what I mean? You can’t build a home with a wrench, but with the wrench and the hammer and the jigsaw and the nail and the screw.
Jameela Measuring tape. Don’t forget the measuring tape.
Flex And the measuring tape. We’ve all got our little goals. But that was exactly it. I thought, you know who not only like, who do I want to be, but who am I currently? You know, I don’t want to be, you know, the big the big hand of truth who’s like, here’s a truth bomb. You got to take it in. Whatever. Sometimes babygirl just want to laugh and giggle sometimes. Also, I recognized through how many years being on the internet and being a public figure that the easiest way often is through and how to get through to someone is using the tools that we have at our disposal. Humor, light heartedness, kindness. You need the bait and switch. People don’t listen to my current podcast and think they’re going to learn anything. But babes I’m a read about Stoicism and I’m going to. You know, it’s.
Jameela A spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. Yeah.
Flex I just think you learned about.
Jameela Your. a dream.
Flex Socialism. Oh, sorry. Is that what Karl Marx said? Oh, sorry. And it’s not because I’m now enjoying it. I wasn’t enjoying what was what I was doing before. I feel validated. My ego was stroked. I wasn’t enjoying. And I want to enjoy and to what you said before. It’s like, yes, definitely think about who you want to be, but also now think practically about how you’re going to get there. The person that I want to be, somebody who, like I said before, I don’t want to be optimal. I don’t. But I also don’t want to be in denial about the part of me that could improve and could be better. I recognize like, I’m ahead and it’s through and through. I want to feel good fundamentally, but also living my whole life as a hedonist and feeling good. Like I said before, it really gave me this weak resilience because a bad thing would happen and I couldn’t I couldn’t overcome. I would have a hard conversation and crumble. Somebody would disagree with me and I feel like a broken person. And so it’s like, Oh, wait, what did I have to do? Look at the other personal philosophies. Can I romanticize life a little bit? Can I be a bit of a stoic and understand that not everything needs to be a dopamine spike to be important? Some things just need to be moderate, you know, conversations, relationships. There is power in neutrality as well, but don’t use it as a scapegoat. People likes to take what fits. You need to know what you care about. You need to know what you believe in. And if you don’t know now, you need to be seeking that.
Jameela I can see that you’re still, like, shaking off the final, like, kind of fragments of the frustration. And I’m I’m I was stressed to see you go through that because you start it off as like as it was always very clear to me what you were and what you stood for. And and and I felt sad watching you be misunderstood. And I feel very happy to see you kind of like back in your power and you defining how you will be seen by the world.
Jameela And I appreciate you. So before you go and I thank you for this conversation, it’s a conversation we’re not really allowed to have. We’re not like supposed to have this conversation. Like, you’re considered like, yeah, you’re considered the it. We’re not supposed to criticize ourselves or each other or our previous methods. And and, and I, I think it’s really important in the name of like if we go on about accountability. We have to also inact it ourselves. But before you go, will you tell me what do you weigh?
Flex I weigh myself by my ability to match my internal fantasy with my outward reality. I weigh myself by showing up in a way that honors who I want to be as opposed to who people want me to be. I weigh myself by the connections that I make and the consistency that I’m able to deliver to my relationships. Doesn’t mean I’m a good person all the time. Am I reliable? Debatable. Am I a good friend? Am I a good daughter? Am I a good partner? I don’t know, but I’m trying. And I’m always trying. And I weigh myself by my comfort in being the bad guy for the bigger picture. Because not everyone can do it.
Jameela Amen, amen, I. I hope we get to hang out in person, and I can’t wait to give you a big squeeze one day. And thank you for coming on and. And let me know any way that I can ever support your work as well.
Flex Thanks, we’re just here to enjoy. Have fun.
Jameela Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and research by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson. And the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month of Stitcher Premium by going Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly over at I Weigh we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 18186605543 or email us what you weigh. Iweighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener I weigh being 22 and not having it figured out yet, I Weigh being a daughter to both a mother and someone who is no longer around, I weigh being a sister. I weigh being a confidant, I weigh being a writer and a creator. Even if the creations aren’t always what other people expect them to be. I weigh being an empath. I weigh my privilege and acknowledgment of that, I weigh my opinions, as Roxane Gay said. They take up a lot of my weight. I weigh being sober. I weigh transferring from the universities. And I weigh being still. Thank you.
November 27, 2023
This week, Jameela is joined by writer, broadcaster and feminist organizer Clementine Ford to discuss the historical roots of marriage as a tool of patriarchal control, the illusions surrounding modern matrimony and the modern marketing machinery that sustains its myth.
November 20, 2023
Jameela is joined by beauty culture critic Jessica DeFino in a candid conversation about where her current research and journalism is taking her, after years of covering a multi-billion dollar beauty industry for major women’s magazines & beauty apps in the US.