The actress and body positivity activist has joined the #AerieREAL Role Models Campaign in effort to help empower women and all different types of beauty

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January 31, 2019 11:11 AM

Jameela Jamil is the latest celebrity to join forces with Aerie to spread the message of body positivity.

The actress and activist opened up about her partnership with the apparel brand and how she came to play a role in its #AerieREAL Role Models Campaign.

It all began with I Weigh, a campaign she launched in 2017 to help individuals realize their worth.

“I Weigh started to make headlines and they were already big fans of our messaging,” the star, 32, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “The fact that we represent radical inclusion and embrace all different types of beauty and all different types of people — and authenticity and female empowerment. So they approached me as a kind of collaboration with me and I Weigh to kind of bring that messaging to the forefront. I think that was really amazing for them to [launch] a platform to boost our message.”

Aerie by Ali Mitton

Aerie, which stopped retouching its ads in 2014, has been a pioneer in confronting cultural taboos while shining a light on women’s natural appearances. It expanded its #AerieREAL Role Model family for Spring ’19 to welcome Jameela, along with actress and host Busy Philipps, actress Samira Wiley, gold medal para snowboarder Brenna Huckaby and creator Molly Burke.

Joining the brand’s current role models Iskra Lawrence, Aly Raisman, and author and activist Cleo Wade, the ambassadors will use their voices to empower the Aerie community, share their stories and create awareness of causes they stand behind by appearing in unretouched campaign imagery across in-store, digital and social marketing.

For more on Jamil and the Aerie campaign, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

For Jamil, this messaging has been a priority of hers for quite some time.

“I kept on seeing posts on Instagram with celebrities and their weight being written across their bodies,” she says of her inspiration behind creating I Weigh. “You never ever do that, I’ve never seen a picture like that of a man. I couldn’t believe it. I was so mortified by seeing that. I just thought, ‘Ok what am I going to do here?’ I’m going to say something.”

“It’s this really supportive community where everyone cheers each other on,” she adds. “There’s almost no negativity on it. It’s all these people who you realize that have been stamped down by society. But they’ve found themselves. This is our movement…There have been some people who feel like a slender actress is not someone who should be speaking out about body positivity but not only have I experienced public fat shaming and anorexia but also this is my responsibility — to be an ally. I stand with them and not in front of them. I think more people are starting to realize that my intentions are pure and I am using my platform to uplift other activists.”

Jameela Jamil
Matt Baron/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

As Jamil continues to empower people through I Weigh and, now, Aerie, she has words of encouragement for those struggling.

“I think the first thing you have to do is stop. And unfollow all of the accounts that are making you feel bad about yourself,” she says. “Stop buying the magazines that make you feel ashamed. Get rid of everything in you periphery that is encouraging the bullying in your head. And then I want you to sit and think about all the amazing things your body does for you. You get out of bed in the morning, you are able to breathe, your heart is beating, you have life. And it’s important to try and contextualize the body as an actual living thing.”

She adds, “Third of all, I want you to make a list of all the things you have accomplished and all of the amazing things in your life that you have that have nothing to do with looks and remember that you are a valid, whole human who is multifaceted and you do not owe it to anyone to look any particular way. You are worthy of love and happiness.”

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