One September morning in SoHo, Inamorata’s airy and bright office was filled with women. Next to racks of swimsuits and “town sets” (crewnecks and matching bike shorts bearing versions of the logo also found on hand towels in the bathroom), they sat around common tables, cooing over a baby.
Sylvester is the 8 month old son of the founder and CEO of the clothing company, Emily Ratajkowski. He and his giant Husky mix, Colombo, were the only boys around.
“As you can see, you are in my safe space,” said Ratajkowski, sitting on a pink velvet sofa facing the room where her team was caring for her child. “Having your own business, you are the one who decides which images of your body go out into the world.”
Control is great for the mannequin. Since 2013, when she became famous for dancing half-nude in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video, footage of Ratajkowski has been posted on the Internet. From David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” to paparazzi photos to fashion ads to her own social media posts, her face is so ubiquitous that she’s said to be even tagged in tattoos.
In 2018, when she was at the peak of a modeling career that she thought was temporary (she dropped out of UCLA in 2010 and needed the cash), her mother, Kathleen Balgley, a former professor of Englishman, was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a chronic and abnormal buildup of protein in his hands.
Around this time, Ratajkowski said, “I felt like something was really missing.” Alone in Los Angeles while her husband, film producer Sebastian Bear-McClard, worked in New York City, Ratajkowski began writing.
The resulting essays, collected in “My Body,” which appeared in Metropolitan Books on November 9, reveal a person whose politics and sense of self are evolving.
“They were written to try to understand what I believed,” she said.
In the essay “Blurred Lines”, Ratajkowski returns to the set of a video that has been criticized as degrading and even “violated”, and considers misogyny and its role in it. At the time, she was 21 and found the “empowering” experience, she writes, a chance to embrace her sexuality on camera and use it to her advantage.
Now that she is 30 years old, she sees how naive she was.
“Whether you wear a burqa or a bikini,” she said, “we operate within the very specific boundaries of a cis-straight, patriarchal, capitalist world.” (She added, “I always scare people when I use words like that, as long as it’s a little obnoxious.”)
It may not be particularly radical to explore the imbalance of power between who is looking and who is seen. But Ratajkowski, who has worked to amass tens of millions of social media followers, approaches the subject with an unusually influential voice.
“It’s almost like she’s a secret agent who has infiltrated the beauty industry, peaked and now tells us what it is in ruthless terms,” said Michael Schulman, the writer who hosted a conversation between Ratajkowski and comedian Amy Schumer at The New Yorker Festival last month.
But the industry has also infiltrated the secret agent. In the essay “Bc Hello Halle Berry”, Ratajkowski has an existential crisis about being paid to post a picture of her butt on a free vacation in the Maldives, writing, “I wanted to be able to have my Instagram account, sell bikinis and whatever, while also being respected for my ideas and politics as well and well, all outside of my body. ”She writes that her hypocrisy gives her a headache.
To earn this respect, Ratajkowski did his homework. In December 2019, she reached out to author Stephanie Danler (“Sweetbitter”, “Stray”) for advice, and they became friends.
“She really learned to write this book,” Danler said. “She only read non-fiction, book after book, in a sort of self-taught MFA program.”
Among Ratajkowski’s influences: “The Empathy Exams” by Leslie Jamison (“obviously”), “The Reckonings” by Lacy Johnson (“one of my favorite books and nobody knows, which I just think is crazy”), ” How to Write Alexander Chee’s “Autobiographical Novel,” “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo.
Sara Bershtel, its editor-in-chief at Metropolitan, said they signed a deal in fall 2020, shortly after The Cut published “Buying Myself Back,” an essay included in the book. In it, Ratajkowski recounted times when she saw photos and images of her bought, sold and shared without her consent, including in one case by a photographer she accused of sexual assault. It was the most read article of the year by the magazine.
“I learned that my image, my reflection, is not mine,” she writes.
There was a wave of support for the trial. Even so, as she prepares for the release of her book, Ratajkowski insists her name is a handicap.
“I internalized the way I wasn’t taken seriously and I was just treated like a body,” she said. If you’re a celebrity who wants to write a book, she added, “what happens is a lot of doors open for you, but not in the right way.”
Ratajkowski said she asked Metropolitan to advertise “My Body” comparable to “Misfits,” the memoir of Emmy-winning screenwriter Michaela Coel.
“I love how it went for her with ‘I May Destroy You’, I think it was so interesting, it started these conversations, which is really all I want,” said Ratajkowski. “It was weird to realize, oh, that’s not going to be the same for me.”
In her book, she expresses the pressures she felt to rely on men, from dancing in a bare thong for Thicke and Pharrell, to dating a boy who forced himself on her in high school (“J ‘ would have liked someone to explain to me that I owed her nothing “), to play the” model woman “at a party for Bear-McClard in Hollywood, where she was caught and insulted by her colleagues of the” club of boys “.
But “a takeaway, I hope people know about this book, is that it’s not just, Oh, I was hurt so much, and another #MeToo story,” she said. declared. “It’s a book on capitalism. I just have one asset that I traded that was specific, and I think most women do. Even if it’s in your marriage.
She has no plans to quit modeling, because she enjoys it and because “I want to keep making money.” Plus, even though she quit, she said, “I’m still going to be celebrity connected, because we all are.”
Ratajkowski knows that she is one of the minority of models – and authors – who can afford to control the narrative the way she does: take an NFT self-portrait and auction it off for $ 175,000, which she does. did in May; give up child care “because I like to do it”; to register your own brand. And yet, sending a book out into the world is also letting go.
“It’s scary that someone just do a quote and say, that’s what she said about that juicy gossip,” Ratajkowski said, correctly predicting a Times of London headline that ran a couple of times. Weeks Later: “Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke assaulted me on set,” says Emily Ratajkowski. (Thicke’s reps did not respond to requests for comment.)
Thicke is one plot point among many in a narrative that will inevitably be exploited for clickbait.
“This is not a book where I try to undo the men I have known in my life,” she said. “I try to challenge expectations and also speak of nuance – in my identity, but also just in life and in my political convictions. And this is not a nuanced period.