Read Emily Ratajkowski’s Powerful Essay About Fighting to Control the Rights to Her Body
It's part of her upcoming essay collection.
Emily Ratajkowski is determined to own the rights to her body—not just metaphorically speaking in the context of body autonomy, but also literally. In May, the model revealed that she’s been working on a book of non-fiction essays in quarantine about owning her self-image. Now, one of the essays was just published.
“I’d say it’s like a memoir, but with added political thinking,” Ratajkowski told British GQ about the book. “I’m trying to use my experience as a model and someone who has capitalized on their image and also someone who has been maybe a victim of their image. It’s complicated. I am looking at all that through a feminist perspective and just trying to decipher some of the answers. I don’t have them all yet; maybe I never will.”
In the first published essay on The Cut, “Buying Myself Back,” the model writes about a series of times when others claimed ownership of images of her. It starts with a time when she was being sued for $150,000 in damages for reposting a paparazzi photo of herself, in which her face is completely covered up by a bouquet of flowers.
“I posted the photograph of me using the bouquet as a shield on my Instagram because I liked what it said about my relationship with the paparazzi, and now I was being sued for it,” Ratajkowski writes.
I’ve become more familiar with seeing myself through the paparazzi’s lenses than I am with looking at myself in the mirror. And I have learned that my image, my reflection, is not my own.
In an Instagram post, Ratajkowski thanked New York Mag for sharing her essay, writing that it was “an extremely personal piece about image, power and consent.” At the time of her interview with British GQ, the model shared that she had about 10 essays so far and that she’s been occupying her time with working on them.
“I’m trying to perfect them; that’s one of the main things I’ve been doing [in isolation],” she said, calling it the “one benefit” of the pandemic. She continued, “I have 160 pages, all in draft. I have an agent and I’m going through his one sheet of notes. All I needed was no distractions and I promised myself I was going to tell everyone to just leave me to work and get them done. Now look.”
As a model with multi-faceted interests, Ratajkowski said she received pushback from people saying things like, “You can’t do all these things.”
“It taught me a lot about sexism and misogyny in the world,” she said, “because the idea that a woman who looks a certain way or presents herself a certain way can’t talk about politics or read books? Ridiculous.”
Ratajkowski also realized that she had internalized many of these beliefs about women, noting that she was surprised when she read Demi Moore’s memoir.
“I realized I had made assumptions about Demi Moore too. I definitely wrote her off a little bit, as an actress, because she was so sexy, because she had that body,” she said, “And I’m Em Rata, so that’s seriously ironic. It just goes to show how deeply internalized misogyny is.”
Though there’s no clear timeline for when Ratajkowski’s book will be complete and available to the world, you can head here to read her full essay “Buying Myself Back” now.