Emily Ratajkowski: My body doesn’t ‘discredit me and my political action’

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I think I’ve figured out my issue with Emily Ratajkowski. Like, I don’t hate her – I don’t even think she’s a vapid idiot. She says some interesting things and she gives a better interview than half of the women in Hollywood. She tries to talk about feminism in a meaningful way. But here’s what I’ve figured out: Emily seems to think that her exhibitionism makes her a feminist, when actually she’s an exhibitionist AND a feminist and the two things aren’t really overlapping. Does that make sense? I’m not going to tell an exhibitionist who constantly posts belfies that she’s not a feminist. She can be. But please don’t say that your need to expose your body incessantly is some feminist cause du jour. It is not. So, anyway, Emily has a feature in the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar. She posed in a bra (what else) and showed off her armpit fur. This is Emily’s latest feminist cause (and she’s weeks too late).

Her privilege: “Before I go any further, let’s state the obvious: I’m a cis white woman. I’m well aware of the privilege I receive as someone who is heteronormative, and I don’t pretend to act like my identity hasn’t made some things easier for me. That being said, I want to take this opportunity to speak up about what my experience as a woman has been.”

Her choice to be traditionally sexy: “Sure, I’m positive that most of my early adventures investigating what it meant to be a girl were heavily influenced by misogynistic culture. Hell, I’m also positive that many of the ways I continue to be “sexy” are heavily influenced by misogyny. But it feels good to me, and it’s my damn choice, right? Isn’t that what feminism is about—choice?…As a fully grown woman, I continue to be shocked by how, in 2019, we look down so much on women who like to play with what it means to be sexy.”

Going braless to protest: “When I was arrested in D.C. protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a man who has shown a gross amount of disrespect toward women in his life, the headlines were not about what I was protesting but instead about what kind of shirt I was wearing. Even women from the left, who fully supported the purpose of my protest, made comments about my missing bra underneath my white tank and jeans. In their minds, the fact that my body was at all visible had somehow discredited me and my political action. But why?”

On body hair: “If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me. For me, body hair is another opportunity for women to exercise their ability to choose—a choice based on how they want to feel and their associations with having or not having body hair. On any given day, I tend to like to shave, but sometimes letting my body hair grow out is what makes me feel sexy. And there is no right answer, no choice that makes me more or less of a feminist, or even a “bad feminist,” to borrow from Roxane Gay. As long as the decision is my choice, then it’s the right choice. Ultimately, the identity and sexuality of an individual is up to them and no one else. I’m definitely not saying that every woman needs to connect with their inner Thotiana; I’m just making the point that women can and should be able to wear or represent themselves however they want, whether it’s in a burka or a string bikini.

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t hate Emily Ratajkowski and her almost childlike understanding of bare bones feminism and feminist theory is better than nothing. Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with what she says: women should make their own choices about how to be, how to present themselves, whether to shave, what to wear, what to do with their bodies and who they sleep with. But lordy, Emily often acts like she’s being discriminated against for BEING SEXY. That’s her special class, that’s her minority status. As a Sexy Woman, people judge her for being sexy. It hurts her sexy feelings. No one will let her be sexy! Enough, Emily.

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Header photo courtesy of Michael Avedon for Harper’s Bazaar, sent from promotional email. Additional photo courtesy of WENN.

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47 Responses to “Emily Ratajkowski: My body doesn’t ‘discredit me and my political action’”

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  1. tw says:

    Agree with your assessment.
    Separately, I’m not over her high-on-molly marriage to that douchy greaseball. ewww.

  2. Jadedone says:

    I feel like she is always giving interviews but does she act that much anymore? Is she more of a model now or must a famous person??

    • Fiona says:

      She has a pretty popular swimsuit line now, she’s just won an award for it.

      I’ve been a fan for years, I started liking her when the Black Lives Matter movement started, she was posting about it and supporting the protests before any mainstream celebs did. IMO her supporting the movement when she was a “new” celeb and BLM was seen as “radical” shows that she’s genuine in her support, cause it could’ve really affected her career

  3. Kitten says:

    Sigh. She wore a white t-shirt and no bra and people talked about her spectacular boobs.
    This is not shocking to anyone except Emily.

    That being said, I respect her for protesting Kavanaugh, truly. Ultimately, I agree with you Kaiser that her brand of feminism is better than nothing and certainly better and less problematic than, say, ScarJo’s brand of feminism.

  4. Sean says:

    I find her boring. That is all.

    • kelleybelle says:

      It’s always about her body. *yawn* Her boobs aren’t even real and she needs to lay off the lip-fillers.

      • JAM says:

        Pretty sure her boobs are real. She’s posted photos of herself as a teen, so unless she got implants at 14 I think they’re real.

      • Snowslow says:

        I also think her lips are real. Like Angelina, she just as that kind of puffed lip that people, including me, find super sexy.

    • weezle says:

      I also find her boring, but the thing that makes me dislike her is her insatiable, bottomless thirst trap existence. She got noticed for her tits, and that’s it. She is no Ruth Bader Ginsburg: she’s nothing but a Page Three girl who’s going to be forgotten once her spectacular boobs start sagging. Honestly, I don’t care if she doesn’t shave her body (it’s her choice), but I believe that she only grows it out for attention.

  5. Snowslow says:

    I don’t think it is the same debate of capitalising on your looks and enjoying being sexy (going braless, wearing tight clothes, showing cleavage etc.)

    The first is a cultural issue and we are allowed to ask ourselves where that puts us as women and how that prevents men (and some women) to listen to us – I think that’s a serious issue. I’m watching Suits and it’s crazy how all the women are in tight revealing clothes, all actresses lost a bunch of weight and basically look like Barbies, and the men are, well, in suits, and we don’t see an inch of their skin.
    Sexy men: power
    Sexy women: Barbies

    On the other hand, one is allowed to wear whatever one wants, revealing clothes, tight skirts and butt cheek shorts. It says we want to look sexy and that’s a choice. And no one should be considered less because of it.

    Are the two related? Hell yes. I don’t think one can be seen without the other. However, taking agency away from us and placing everything on the culture and the patriarchy is not valid either. Men, after all, want to look sexy too and no one ever bats an eye because of that. (Check Orlando Bloom’s post with a sexy swimming pool, shirtless shot).

    • Monicack says:

      This is so true but then what to do? I’ve had this conversation so many times with friends and colleagues and the answer always seems to be to read the room/tone and decide accordingly. That seems easy at first glance. Wear professional clothes in a professional setting and dress the way you want otherwise. But men always set the tone regardless so it still becomes problematic eventually. That great area is always only harmful to women. The goalposts shift so precipitously and so unfairly against women that I almost argue that there should be no goal posts. But this is obviously untenable so again what to do?

      • Snowslow says:

        I hope you’re not shocked by this but I once told my daughter: you can be a serial slut, I will support you and cherish you and applaud you as long as you don’t hurt anyone in the process. However, you have to be very strong to deal with other people’s perception of you and direct criticism you will get.
        (She had a phase where she was very ‘sexual’ (as in sexy, not sexually active) while being in a very uptight school in the middle of a very religious community).
        It’s not really about ‘reading the room’, it’s about having the energy, the clout, the integrity and the ability to stand up for oneself. It’s EFFING HARD.

        I think that is why people took to Joan of Mad Men so much. She knew how to put them in place. But… she was also ‘protected’ by the men in the office because they needed her and she was the… secretary.

        What do you think? Not sure if I answered your question.

      • Monicack says:

        Slows ow
        This made me cry. That’s all I can manage right now. Dear God thank you for this so much.

      • Snowslow says:

        Dear internet friend! Sending you good vibes!!!! And female solidarity!

    • otaku fairy.... says:

      Good point. Although, men and women aren’t really prevented from listening to women who make their looks or immodesty part of how they brand themselves. It’s a choice that they’re making to disrespect certain women based on patriarchal standards of morality and respectability. It’s the same thing when people say ‘men don’t/ nobody respects a sl*t ‘ in other contexts (not saying that’s what you’re saying). Men and others make a choice to disrespect the women they’ve been taught are trash and don’t deserve respect as human beings.

      • Snowslow says:

        Yes, it is a choice. It’s always a choice. And yet most people don’t feel it that way because morals, culture, education tell them otherwise.
        You find it when fathers say that will ‘kill their daughter’s boyfriends’, when people tell you that your ‘daughter will give you a lot of headaches’. That boys ‘have needs’, that boys… ‘you know’. In this mindset, if you still choose to look sexy then you are looking for trouble. It is seen as your choice and not the people who consider you inappropriate.

  6. Lightpurple says:

    Does she ever talk about anything other than how she enjoys displaying her body?

  7. PlaidSheets says:

    Maybe when she ages she’ll be a bit more interesting? She’s stuck on sexy, and I’m credit that her relative youth. Maybe when things sag a bit, she’ll expand her theories a bit more.

  8. Snap Happy says:

    She reminds me of that infomercial Cindy Crawford was in a few years ago for skin care. Every guest on the show, including her, kept talking about how gorgeous she is. It’s like, Ok, we got it. You are gorgeous and proud and no one should make judgements about you based on your looks, but we’ve been hearing about them a lot.

  9. Jessica says:

    She says the same things over and over and over again and she hasn’t promoted a major project in years.

    She’s a vacuous choice feminist. Choice feminism is just consumerist garbage. It is not meaningful feminism.

  10. BANANIE says:

    I wish she had more things of substance to say. And she acknowledges being a cis white woman and what that means for her, but leaves it self-centered. Like alludes to the fact that she has it easier than women of color but doesn’t directly mention anyone else or intersectionality.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Yes! If she would acknowledge her privilege, and then go on to speak about the challenges women face that don’t have that privilege, I would respect her more. For example, talk about how in many places of work, they are allowed to prohibit WOC from braiding their hair. Based on previous discussions on this site, a lot of people aren’t aware that kind of discrimination exists!

      • Frenchtoast says:

        But it’s not her experience. Why are people shocked that she talks about “herself” in an article that was supposed to be about herself? I don’t get it.

  11. otaku fairy.... says:

    This is a tough one because good looks can often be a privilege for both sexes, so on the one hand, people have to be careful not to erase the very real struggles faced by women over that privilege. On the other hand, men do punish women (and girls) and make them responsible for temptations caused by beauty (I couldn’t think of a less cringe way to put that). Women and girls DO face a lot of different kinds of abuse from both men and women over issues related to sexual modesty and in the rush to talk about beauty, there’s also a very real risk and pattern of discrediting or dismissing that abuse. It plays such a huge role in the ways girls and women are treated, and creates an extra divide or hierarchy amongst us that’s based on sexuality and who is or isn’t a perfect victim in any given situation.

    • Snowslow says:

      Perfectly said.
      Especially this: ‘On the other hand, men do punish women (and girls) and make them responsible for temptations caused by beauty’.
      I find this to be very true, very based on unresolved religious biases and like you say, the unfairness of the privilege of beauty and youth that also creates division.
      On a different level, just being a woman sometimes makes men and women want to punish you on so many levels (see Jameela Jamil post yesterday with the unsavoury expectations her family put on her for being a female daughter; or mum guilt issues etc.).

    • Morita says:

      it’s part of the victim blaming intrinsic to our rape culture. Smthg you might have to deal with even if you are an average looking woman.

  12. Valiantly Varnished says:

    She just seems to have a very elementary understanding on feminism and activism in general. Her protesting Kavanaugh by not wearing a bra did nothing for the cause. It just made the entire story about her boobs. What does going braless have to do with making sure a sexual predator doesnt get placed on the Supreme Court?? How does that support victims of sexual assault??
    This is why I side eye her so much. Because literally all of her “activism” centers around attention-seeking.

    • Morita says:

      I don’t think she mentionned her bra taht’s the tabloids that did. When it made the headline she said it was proving her point that the male dominated media was constantly reducing women to their bodies.

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        Agreed. I’m bi and yet her boobs didn’t manage to distract me from the significance of what she was doing. It was the other way around.

    • Jules says:

      This ^^

  13. Apalapa says:

    I don’t really care about her body? It’s fine. It’s a body. Anyway, I have seen sex workers with similar bodies/clothing styles and I would be much more interested in what they have to say about feminism and how we as a society can better support them and decriminalizing their work. Maya Angelou did sex work proudly, Janet Mock has spoken about it as well, in addition to pretty privilege.

    Basically if they could ask trans women or sex workers the same questions they ask Emily I would be way more inclined to buy the magazine.

  14. Tiffany :) says:

    Maybe it is just the clips featured here, but she’s only talking about women’s issues as it relates to herself. She does nothing to further discussion about systemic injustices that hold women back. I 100% support the fact that she protested against Kavanaugh and took a risk for that. But that seems to be the outlier. If you are going to talk about “political action”, it’d be nice if “action” was truly the focus and not navel/armpit gazing. If political activist is her new brand, she needs to do the work.

  15. Morita says:

    I don’t think we should discredit mainstream feminists like Emily. Telling her to stfu because she’s sexy is just playing into respectability politics and the idea that women have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously.

    • Kristen says:

      I completely agree with this. It’s really not for others to tell her how to feel or talk about her own experience of being discriminated against. If she was told not to talk politics and being discriminated against for being overweight or scarred or being popularly unattractive in some way, EVERYONE would say how unfair that was. It is a VALID thing to talk about how you’ve been discriminated against because of how you look and dress, no matter what.

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        AMEN. Women don’t have to just accept themselves or each other being treated badly because ‘she should have just followed the roolz’- standards that girls do not sign up for upon being born, but that are forced on them by people who don’t care enough about female pain.

  16. Léna says:

    Let’s not fool ourselves. We are somehow brainwashed to think that shaving for “ourselves” is a thing and it is “feminist”. We are still making this “choice” because society makes a difference between shaved and hairy.

  17. Charfromdarock says:

    I’d much prefer this to the “I’m a humanist” or “I’m not a feminist, I love men” stances.

    She’s not perfect but she seems like she is trying to learn and do better.

  18. Melbelle says:

    Compared to a few years ago when it was pulling teeth to even get women in the biz to label themselves as a feminist, I appreciate that she fully embraces it and does her best to support feminist causes. That said, when she talks about it, it does *always* seem to be coupled up with her looks, which is just kindof annoying. AND, this whole “feminism = choice” talking point is like the most watered down, “girl power” feminism there is. Feminism does not equal choice, because there are women out there who “choose” to make patently anti-feminist choices, like being anti-reproductive rights or choosing to submit to the husband in their families. I know women who make those choices and they are not feminist choices and choice alone does not a feminist make.

  19. sammiches says:

    I think a lot of people just don’t like her, because I really don’t see anything wrong with what she said here. It’s not groundbreaking or anything, but I don’t see the problem.

    • otaku fairy.... says:

      A good 30% of it may be her delivery (some of the criticisms are valid). But the rest of it just the fact that she’s very openly a sex positive feminist period. Whenever a woman or girl’s discomfort with the ‘show your worth and earn safety/respect by proving you’re not a tramp’ worldview makes itself known in her choices with her body, the things she says, and/or the things she promotes, there are going to be people who want to sabotage it however they can. There’s fear and anger, even when disguised as disdain or being unbothered by immodest women existing and taking up space normally reserved by the culture for the ‘wholesome’ girls. There are a lot of men and women who feel that the benefits of slut-shaming and victim-blaming being normalized are too good- or just comfortable- to pass up. There have been a lot of honest conversations about why both men of all different backgrounds are scared of it not being ok to discriminate against this kind of girl anymore, AND about why misogynistic women from all different backgrounds fear it. It’s all very gross and feckless.

  20. lucy2 says:

    My issue with her is that all she talks about (in what I’ve seen) is herself, her body, her sexiness, and how people react to it. Which is fine, but if that’s ALL that you put out there in the world, that’s ALL that people have to react to. Give us something else to talk about, Emily!
    How she discusses her Kavanaugh protest is a perfect example. It wasn’t about victims, or patriarchy, or misogyny, it was about what she wore and the reaction she got, and poor her.

    Kind of a funny, this summer I was at a semi-fancy event and a young woman who doesn’t shave her pits wore a spaghetti strap dress – fine – do what you want, I don’t care. But every time I saw her, she was “stretching”, or posing her arms over her head, etc, and looking around to see who was looking at her, obviously hoping for some kind of reaction. Reminds me of Emily here.

  21. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    If she talked about anything other than her body, I might listen. But she doesn’t so I don’t. Image vs feminism is not a thing, and the more she goes on about it the more ridiculous she continues to sound. I get it woman. You love your body. Now shut up about it and find something else to talk about. Feminism? Fine. Which women have been your role models? Exactly when did you dip your feet in the feminism pool? Personally, I was fed up with lines being drawn in elementary school. How far do you think we’ve come, and politically speaking, what do you think the current climate has done to growth? Oh sorry, that’s right, back to bras and body hair, my bad.

  22. Nona says:

    “Isn’t that what feminism is about—choice?”

    No that is not what feminism is, a person can make lots of choices that actively benefit the patriarchy, that the person making the choices is a woman doesn’t make them a feminist.

    I really loathe this vapid, sound bite view of what feminism is. There are lots of patriarchy upholding choices that may well be personally ENRICHING for a woman that doesn’t make them EMPOWERING personally and most certainly not empowering for women as a class of people.

  23. Frenchtoast says:

    What I find interesting in this article is that she aknowledges her definition and perception of what is sexy” comes from misogynistic and patriarcal ideas.