'I wasn't just famous; I was famously sexy': Model Emily Ratajkowski on the dangers of being desired

Written by Leah Dolan, CNN

In Emily Ratajkowski’s new essay assortment, “My Body, ” the story of Audrey Munson, {the teenager} dubbed “America’s first supermodel,” serves as a robust reminder of the perils of being idolized.

Having posed for a few of the early twentieth century’s nice sculptors, Munson can as we speak be discovered at parks, plazas and state capitols throughout America. But after inspiring a number of high-profile statues — together with Civic Fame, the gilded copper girl perched atop New York’s Municipal Building — she tried suicide in 1922, aged 28, and was dedicated to a psychiatric hospital at 39 the place she spent the final six a long time of her life.

“I suppose this is the life cycle of a muse,” Ratajkowski writes in “Men Like You,” one in all 12 essays within the assortment. “Get discovered, be immortalized in art for which you’re never paid, and die in obscurity.”

Ratajkowski could also be a good distance from obscurity, however she continues to be one thing of a muse. Her likeness has helped promote the whole lot from burgers to Buick automobiles. With over 28 million Instagram followers and a modeling portfolio that skews extra lingerie than excessive trend (her company dubbed her a “‘commercial swim’ girl” finest suited to catalog work, she writes), Ratajkowski has been offered by the media as a modern-day intercourse image — which is why her reflections on objectification and exploitation are so fascinating.

“When I was writing, I really didn’t think about publishing,” she advised CNN Style throughout a video name, “because it was one of the only ways I could be really vulnerable and honest, not to think about anyone reading it.”

At 21, Ratajkowski was catapulted to fame after she appeared bare within the music video for Robin Thicke’s 2013 observe “Blurred Lines,” which has since garnered over 768 million views on YouTube. “I wasn’t just famous; I was famously sexy, which, in many ways, felt gratifying,” she writes in an essay named after Thicke’s track. Now aged 30, Ratajkowski particulars the expertise of being an object of intense need — from the euphoric highs to the warping psychological lows.

In “K-Spa,” after relishing the anonymity of a women-only spa for greater than 15 pages, Ratajkowski recounts being hit on by a truck driver as she drove dwelling from LA’s Koreatown. She is despondent at first, however the satisfaction of exterior validation quickly emerges: “I guess he thought I looked pretty” she writes. “I smirk a little despite myself. I notice that my lips look pale. As I drive home, I reach into my bag and put on some lipstick.”

"My Body" by Emily Ratajkowski is out Nov 9 and published by Metropolitan Books.

“My Body” by Emily Ratajkowski is out Nov 9 and revealed by Metropolitan Books. Credit: Metropolitan Books/Emily Ratajkowski

She additionally explores the intoxicating impact magnificence can have on the highly effective — in “Transactions,” Ratajkowski claims she was paid $25,000 to attend the 2014 Super Bowl with Jho Low, the Malaysian billionaire on the heart of the 1MDB scandal.

The essays are crammed with anecdotes illustrating the double-edged nature of need, which Ratajkowski hopes makes all of them the extra accessible.

“I feel like we hear words like ‘patriarchy’ and ‘capitalism,’ and (these feel like) big words and these big concepts, but I wanted to explore the ways that those things show up in everyday situations,” she defined.

“For me, this book was about talking about the moments where women can be very vulnerable, and the power dynamics that are often concealed. That’s what I really would like to see: more of a conversation around those power dynamics.”

The e book particulars a number of situations of sexual assault over the course of her profession, occasions she gave loads of thought to earlier than the e book was revealed. “I really was careful about what I chose to include and why,” she mentioned. “The reason I wrote about those experiences wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m going to (write) down a list of moments where I’ve been sexually assaulted.’ It was more, ‘Let me return to the moments that I have a lot of shame around, that I feel really unresolved feelings around, and I’m interested in exploring why.'”

‘I’m complicit’

There are not any neat resolutions in “My Body,” however moderately Ratajkowski weighing up the place exploiting her picture has acquired her and confessing — with putting vulnerability — the agony and ecstasy of being idolized. “Worse than arm candy is invisible, right?” she writes, earlier than an disagreeable interplay along with her husbands’ supervisor causes her to unravel: “I shut my eyes tight. I felt a sudden urge to disappear.”

The modeling business doesn’t get off calmly, both. From brokers abandoning a younger Ratajkowski in precarious conditions to an unhealthy obsession with weight reduction (work apparently solely began to choose up after a foul bout of abdomen flu triggered her to drop ten kilos in every week), “My Body” depicts the style world as predatory and disorientating. And but, the star has no plans to give up the enterprise.

“I’ve found ways to carve out control where I can, and that’s been really helpful to me,” she defined. “The industry really teaches you that you’re replaceable, and that the less agreeable you are, the less likely you are to be hired. That felt very scary when I was a young model doing it for money. But the other thing is that I’m in a different position. Now, I’m not an unknown model.”

Emily Ratajkowski walks the runway at the Versace fashion show during the Milan Fashion Week, September 2021.

Emily Ratajkowski walks the runway on the Versace trend present throughout the Milan Fashion Week, September 2021. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

Her choice to proceed modeling has already been chided by some as evading the very points she herself raises, however Ratajkowski asserts she would “never fault any woman for trying to operate within the confines of the world we live in.”

“I mean, I am complicit.” she continued. “But I also think it’s a mistake to shame a young woman for wearing a tight dress because she wants to be noticed by someone powerful. I don’t think that we should continue to criticize women for saying, ‘This is how I can succeed and capitalize off of my image or my body.’ That is an extension of the same misogyny I’ve seen so much in my life. We are all complicit.”

Throughout her essays, Ratajkowski ponders the fleeting life cycle of a muse. She quotes Audrey Munson, the sculptor’s mannequin immortalized in stone and bronze, whose reflections on the transience of their commerce really feel as related now as they did a century in the past.

“What becomes of the artists’ models?” Munson as soon as wrote. “I am wondering if many of my readers have not stood before a masterpiece of lovely sculpture or a remarkable painting of a young girl, her very abandonment of draperies accentuating rather than diminishing her modesty and purity, and asked themselves the question, ‘Where is she now, this model who was so beautiful?'”

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