Emily Ratajkowski, 25-year-old über-babe and outspoken feminist has posed naked astride a white horse for the latest issue of US Harper's Bazaar. Framed as a way to call out the body shamers - something Em is becoming known for (remember her topless bathroom selfie with Kim K?), Emily's love of showing off that out-of-this-world body is the focus in this interesting interview.
In a one-on-one with author Naomi Wolf (who famously wrote the '90s feminist manifesto The Beauty Myth, among others), Emily discusses the confusion surrounding her highly sexualised body and identifying with being a Third Wave feminist. Here, are some of the interview highlights:
1. On starting young, as a model:
ER: I signed with an acting agent first; I wasn't really interested in signing with a modeling agent. But that same day they said, "You should go over to Ford." Then they signed me.
NW: How old were you then?
ER: Fourteen, but I looked exactly the same as I do now. They didn't know what to do-I looked like a woman.
2. On being a child with a woman's body:
ER: I genuinely hit puberty before everyone. So I really was more sexual than my classmates. My teachers, my boyfriends, my parents' friends didn't understand how complex it all was. Because of third-wave feminism, I understood that there are all these fucked-up ideals of beauty put on young women; that there was something to be scared about in the entertainment world. But yet the people I knew in my everyday life, they [didn't realise] their faux pas, their missteps, and since they knew me it was that much harder because the comments felt personal.
NW: Can you give me an example?
ER: Once I had a teacher, who was a woman, snap my bra because she was mad that it was showing. She did it in front of the class.
ER: It was, like, something I became very used to. I had a girlfriend who was Venezuelan, and her body developed in a different way. I had big boobs, and she had a big butt. She would wear jeans with no pockets that would show it off, and we were constantly in trouble at school with the dress code. We were harassed, and, damn, that was the worst part of it.
NW: That's so obnoxious. So you were both having your bodies shamed.
ER: I remember going to Forever 21 and buying this ridiculous pink thong underwear because I thought, "That's what you do, right?" It would pop out, and I'm sure that would bother people. But at the same time it might've been a tool that I didn't understand. Being part of a patriarchal society, it kind of helped me figure out what I was all about. I loved in your book The Beauty Myth when you talk about this ideal world where women could dress sexually casually and it wouldn't even be something that anyone would notice. For me, that's something I've lived by. I don't wear a bra all the time, and I don't think about it.
3. On her topless selfie with Kim Kardashian:
A selfie is a sort of interesting way to reclaim the gaze, right? You're looking at yourself and taking a photo while looking at everyone. But also who cares? Kim's allowed to do what she wants. So I issued a series of tweets; she sent me flowers, thanking me, which was very sweet. We ended up running into each other and had this idea to take a similar selfie with our middle fingers up.
4. On why women should taking ownership for their sexuality and her bodies:
Kim said that to me. You know, when Lena Dunham takes her clothes off, she gets flack, but it's also considered brave; when Justin Bieber takes his shirt off, he's a grown-up. But when a woman who is sexual takes off her top, it plays into something.
NW: I'll just jump in and say that any woman is sexual.
ER: Right, of course, but there is a distinction in the reaction between, for example, Kim taking off her shirt and Lena. It's not fair to either of them.
5. On all women being sexual:
The world should not be exclusive of the ideal body. It has to include all ideals, all bodies. The whole idea is that when Kim takes a nude selfie, she's just seeking attention. That's not the issue. A woman can be seeking attention and also make a statement. They don't need to be mutually exclusive.
6. On being beautiful:
That's something we really forget in this world, especially in my industry and being in the public eye as a female. There's this idea that if a man enjoys a photograph of a nude woman or if he likes your short skirt, he's taking something away from you.
7. On women enjoying sex:
Sex is normal. Desire is normal. Attention is normal, and that's okay. That's really what slut shaming is, right? You talk about this in your book Promiscuities. A woman talks about having sex, and it's like, well, a guy got to have sex with you, so you're stupid. You've given something up.