Emily Ratajkowski is an acclaimed model and actor, an engaged political progressive, a formidable entrepreneur, a global social media phenomenon, and now a writer. Rocketing to world fame at age twenty – one, Ratajkowski sparked both praise and furore with the provocative display of her body as an unapologetic statement of feminist empowerment. This book charts the subsequent evolution in her thinking about our culture’s commodification of women.
My body is a profoundly personal exploration of feminism, sexuality and power, of men’s treatment of women and women’s rationalizations for accepting that treatment. These essays chronicle moments from Ratajkowski’s life while investigating the fetishization of women’s beauty, the obsession with and contempt for their sexuality, the perverse dynamics of the fashion and film industries, and the grey area between consent and abuse.
Having read the essay, Buying Myself Back’, I knew this collection of essays was something I was keen to read. A signed copy as a Christmas gift made this wish come true and this book did not even hit my TBR shelf – so eager to read it that I started it Christmas Day!
A set of 12 essays drawing upon Ratajkowski’s personal experiences, she reflects on her upbringing; her mother’s beauty and attitude which instilled a confidence in Emily, something that later became problematic as that very confidence and comfort in her own skin fell under the male gaze where her body was coveted, judged and dismissed to varying degrees. Her teen years are explored as she began her modelling career and her experiences with men and boys right up to current times and the birth of her son in March 2021.
Emily Ratajkowski doesn’t claim to have the answers but I was drawn to her willingness to at least have the conversation about feminism, empowerment and choice, I have since seen her judged on this very issue and this is something she comments on in this book. A thread running through the book is about choice, the choice to be a model and as she said ‘exploit the system’ and make money out of her commodity – her body. But I was struck how vulnerable she was at times and the perceptions about her body and ‘ownership’ of this given she had chosen to share images of it.
Reading the essays I was left feeling that we are still very much at the beginning of a long journey regarding women, their bodies and their choices. Unsurprisingly Ratajkowski’s views have shifted with age and hindsight but her reflections are valid and I found this book to be an interesting and insightful read. Her strive for validation as something other that ‘just’ a beautiful woman will continue and I genuinely hope she does get the recognition she deserves while continuing to shine a light on the casual misogyny that remains dominant in western culture. These essays are highly readable and accessible with themes that will be familiar to most, the reflections are brutally honest and I admired the author’s bravery in sharing in this way. This is definitely a book I will be recommending, whilst also looking forward to the next instalment from Emily Ratajkowski.
About the Author
Emily Ratajkowski is a model, actor, activist, entrepreneur and writer. She has starred in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, among other films. Ratajkowski has also appeared on the covers of multiple magazines and walked the runways of numerous high – fashion brands. Her 2020 essay for New York magazine, ‘Buying Myself Back,’ was hailed as a landmark and was the magazine’s most – read piece of the year. My Body is her first book.