Model Emily Ratajkowski’s first venture into the literary world came when her essay “Buying Myself Back”, which explored image, ownership, and consent through the lens of her career, was published by New York Magazine in late 2020. That piece was just one of the twelve essays included in Ratajkowski’s new collection, My Body, which was released on Tuesday.
When she was working on bits and pieces of the essays that would eventually come to make up My Body, Ratajkowski wasn’t planning on sharing her writing with anyone, let alone publishing it, she told CNN Style. “It was one of the only ways I could be really vulnerable and honest, not to think about anyone reading it,” she explained. Her essay collection examines desire from her singular perspective, as a model whose career has catapulted her into celebrity, but whose fame has always been inextricable from her image.
“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 explained.
“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.”
One of the reasons “Buying Myself Back” got so much news coverage was because in it, Ratajkowski alleges that photographer Jonathan Leder sexually assaulted her when she was 20 and reiterates what a violation it was to have Leder profit off a photo book of polaroids he took of her. Ratajkowski told CNN Style that she was very thoughtful about the stories of sexual assault she chose to share in the essay collection.
“I really was careful about what I chose to include and why,” she said. “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.’”
Ratajkowski also addressed those who disapprove of her choice to continue modeling, despite the many criticisms of the industry she shares in My Body.
“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.”
Read the full piece from CNN Style here.