Nude Emily Ratajkowski’s Taking Ownership of Her Sexuality

I first really noticed Emily Ratajkowski in the movie We Are Your Friends, and was instantly mesmerized by her. She’s not only beautiful, she oozes sexuality in a way you only can when you’re perfectly comfortable in your own skin… which somehow STILL makes certain women uncomfortable to the level of name calling, something which utterly astonishes me, especially when it comes from adult women.

I loved this interview in Bazaar Magazine by Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth and Promiscuities, which speak to the conflicting messages directed at young women during and after the sexual revolution, in a culture that still fears and distorts female passion.

I find it interesting, that even today, women call women out for being too sexual, giving all the power to men who objectify them… and I have to believe that men have evolved over time and that not ALL men {or all women} react the same stereotypical and/or prudish way when faced with nudity or a confident woman who owns her sexuality. I have to believe that it’s not one extreme or the other, though in some cases, I guess it can be. I used to have this ongoing conversation-debate with my husband, who time after time, INSISTED that men weren’t going to change, and it is what it is. But I refuse to believe that men as a whole are that ignorant, and women as well… it means that we’re not asking much of ourselves, that instead of forcing a culture to evolve, we have to continue living by standards set years before we were even born!

I generally find that a woman who does indeed belittle others for their sexuality, MUST have insecurities and a strong confusion surrounding sex and her own sexuality and/or body… and that when it’s in front of her, forces her to look at and question her own beliefs, which makes her uncomfortable and fearful. We are sexual creatures. Nudity is not offensive, it’s beautiful. If someone has issue with it, they should look inward and ask themselves what about the human body in its natural form upsets them. This is not something that should objectify women, but should empower us.

We have control over our own bodies but we can’t control how another is going to perceive us/them, regardless of what we’re wearing or how we’re acting.

Emily Ratajkowski_ Nude_ Horse_Bazaar magazine july 2016

Channeling Lady Godiva on a white horse Emily poses completely nude for the magazine, on newsstands July 19.

I honestly feel like I’ve waited my whole life to get to an age where I didn’t feel like I wasn’t going to get criticized for oozing sexuality. I definitely thought once I hit 40, I’d have free reign to really be as wild and free as I wanted to be; simply by appearance, not by act {because that’s personal and no one’s business -NOT because I find anything wrong with being sexually active as long as you’re safe}. As I slowly merge into it though, I’m a bit taken aback by women who are still strangely threatened by it. Instead of taking ownership of their own sexuality and sensuality, they call me out for it.

I’ve been told in the last year alone by one woman repetitively that I’m dressing too sexually, that I’m dancing like a stripper, that I’m drawing too much sexual attention and that if I continue to act that way, said woman wouldn’t go out with me anymore. Not even my mother has said these things to me, not ever! Did I expect to hear it at 40? Not even a little. I’m not a moron, and whether I’ve been drinking or not, I know what’s going on around me and how to conduct myself and when it comes down to it, it’s not my issue, but hers. And as many times as she tells me she’s not comfortable with the sexual attention, I can only assume that it’s because it’s coming my way and not hers.

It’s not that I’m trying to act this way to gain attention. It’s who I am at my core.

There are plenty of negative words young women are called and referred to if they’re “too sexual” because people can’t handle it or don’t understand it. Words I worried about getting called so much that I changed who I was to avoid hearing them. I held back as a “wife” due to respect for my husband at the time, which at least holds some value. But as an adult woman, who is now technically single, and who owns her sexuality and all the space in between, I will not stand to be told how to act or what to wear and I will not change who I am to appease someone else’s insecurities anymore. This constant feeling of having to hold back behavior of just being a human, sexual being, worried how we’re going to be perceived by the world around us, is total and absolute nonsense. I’m honestly too fucking old to care anymore.

On society’s reaction to women taking ownership of their sexuality:

“You know, when Lena Dunham takes her clothes off, she gets flack, but it’s also considered brave; when Justin Bieber takes off his shirt, he’s a grown up. But when a woman who is sexual takes off her top, it plays into something.”

My thoughts EXACTLY. I have literally said these exact words, less eloquently and using no celebrity comparisons, but she’s right, and this goes back to having no control over how you’re perceived regardless of what you look like, how you act, and what you’re wearing. The idea of the term “she’s asking for it” based on what a woman is wearing, is simply and purely infantile. Picture for me, if you will, Kim K and Lena D wearing the same exact lingerie and ask yourself why you think one woman is asking for it and the other is simply being brave. It’s total BS. They’re both sexually empowered women.

Emily Ratajkowski_ Nude_Bazaar magazine july 2016

* Go to Emily in Bazaar Magazine to read the entire interview.

NW: You’re very candid about how you use your sexuality and your body and how you communicate.

ER: A lot of media attention came earlier this year from being a Bernie [Sanders] supporter. I could’ve said I was supporting anyone, and people would’ve been shocked and horrified. That became a moment, and then I wrote my essay, “Baby Woman,” for Lena Dunham’s newsletter.

NW: Which I read and really liked. The beauty of feminism is that there isn’t a wave of historical erasure, like “Now it’s your job.”

ER: Well, I think it’s everyone’s job.

NW: I mean your generation’s.

ER: Right, exactly.

***

NW: It’s a problematic space where someone is a child but perceived as a woman.

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 realize] 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.

NW: That’s shocking.

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.

Sex is normal. Desire is normal. Attention is normal, and that’s okay.

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.

NW: I think you should be able to explore whatever you want to explore. Thong or no thong or overalls or shave your head or not. If they have a problem with my sexuality, that’s their problem.

***

NW: We’ve gotten to ground zero of this whole conversation, which is that there’s still the fear and contempt of female sexuality and the just intolerable cultural reaction when women take ownership of their sexuality and their bodies.

ER: 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.

NW: Ya, it’s fucked up. I’m sorry.

ER: It is. And I agree with you—any woman is sexual, absolutely.

NW: I wish that you and Kim and everyone who’s creating cultural objects around their own bodies could have the right to define those images for themselves. At the same time I’m also seeing in that image the huge influx of pornography and the rigid definition of it. Women learn what a sexy woman is from porn or from airbrushed Victoria’s Secret models, so I would love a world in which you don’t have to look like that to say, “Screw you, I own my sexual body.”

ER: True, but 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.

NW: It’s true.What’s more, I notice again and again, is that there’s a deeply anti-feminist origin of mocking women for seeking attention.


ER: And I don’t like that.

When I post a selfie and someone comments, ‘Oh, sure, go ahead and reclaim your sexuality, I got my rocks off,’ that’s not my problem.

NW: No, because you can’t engage in history, or be a leader, without some drive for recognition. What I really like is that you are adding your words to the pictures and the images—and doing what you can to control the message—even though you can’t control everything in the industry. But I also would like a world in which the girls looking at images of you, of Lena Dunham, and all the other women out there can still feel good about themselves.

ER: Right. And I mean, this is the body, this is the person that I am, so I’m limited to that body.


NW: Again, you don’t have to apologize for being beautiful.

ER: 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.

NW: Yeah, that’s unfortunate.

ER: It’s not right. 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.

NW: These attitudes come directly from the Victorian period. They’re ridiculous, of course. The caveat is when you’re in the performance profession; you’re giving plea- sure with the performance. But if someone else uses your short skirt to undermine you or belittle you, that’s not cool. That’s also not your fault.

ER: It’s also not my problem. It’s irrelevant. When I post a selfie and someone com- ments, “Oh, sure, go ahead and reclaim your sexuality, I got my rocks off,” that’s not my problem.

NW: Do people really write that?


ER: Absolutely. On anything.


This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR available on newsstands July 19.

Photographer: Mona Kuhn

Sittings Editor: Jessica de Ruiter; Hair: David Babaii for Leonor Greyl; Makeup: Jo Strettell for Dior Addict; Manicure: Emi Kudo for Dior Vernis; Production: Joey Battaglia at Rosco Production.

*NOTE: If you comment without reading the entire article, I will have no choice but to delete it.

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at ...love Maegan.com sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.

1 Comment

  • Iva

    July 15, 2016 |

    So proud of you, my bestest! You’re so gorgeous inside and out, and that needs to shine in every way possible! Truest friends stand proud side by side and don’t judge. Only support all day, every day. I can’t image ever asking you to be anyone else but you. No matter how we evolve over the course of this life journey we are on together, your true self is my bestie who I love and adore. And for the record, your outfits and 100% on point for every occasion!