Emily Ratajkowski’s New Book Wants To Speak To Every Woman. It Can’t.

The model’s first essay collection, My Body, is well written, thoughtful, and honest. Is that enough?

10/26/2021 3:45:00 AM

The model’s first essay collection, My Body, is well written, thoughtful, and honest. Is that enough?

The model’s first essay collection, My Body, is well written, thoughtful, and honest. Is that enough?

) who are better equipped to address that. But this bigger context is lacking in the book, and some hard questions go unasked.Many people benefit from the way their body looks. Plenty of us have at least a sliver of what Ratajkowski has, the luck of being considered attractive and charming. But what do we do with that? Few want to give up their privilege or the rewards that come with it, and few can relax enough to let their body exist without interference. Ratajkowski doesn’t talk about allowing herself to gain weight or eat with full freedom, and that’s no surprise; it would fundamentally change her career. Who is she, professionally, if not

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thisI don’t blame Ratajkowski for not having any clear answers about what her bodymeans; I don’t have any answers, either. I think about my weight constantly, even if I work hard to avoid negative thoughts about it. I eat what I like, but I still rotate through obsession and guilt. The many of us with body anxiety or disordered eating know that diets don’t work, but we keep trying, hoping to be the exception to the rule. We calorie-count, even subconsciously, and eat controlled meals that give us no pleasure but fuel us to work out harder, tone up, and slim down. People are entitled to look however they want, Ratajkowski included, even if her body sometimes makes me feel bad about my own. That’s not her fault, per se — but she is an active participant in a system that raises her up and makes me hate jean shopping. That dichotomy is missing from her reflections.

In “Buying Myself Back,” Ratajkowski writes, “I have learned that my image, my reflection, is not my own.” It’s about the very tangible matter of her losing rights to images of herself — paparazzi shots, a shitty photographer profiting off her newfound fame — but it’s also a metaphor about being a woman in the world. You do not belong to yourself. No matter what you wear or how you act or what you ask for, you’re being served for consumption. There's no need to take a selfie or commodify yourself through professional modeling. headtopics.com

It’s not even like she’s having that much fun: In “K-Spa,” she writes about how she “dissociate[s]” when she’s being observed, saying, “I don’t even really recognize my body asme.” If Ratajkowski — who has been so richly rewarded for the way her breasts fall, her doe eyes, the firm crease in her abdomen that looks like pilates and $19 salads and cryolipolysis — can’t feel peace about her body and its impact on her as a human being, what hope is there for the rest of us?

My Bodyis semi-defeatist, not seeking the possibility of a completely different system. Ratajkowski can see the flaws but accepts the world as it is, working within it and offering her body up for consumption in ways she can’t fully control. She can celebrate her looks, but that comes with the double bind of capitalism, an inescapable scourge for any woman, but especially one who works in the beauty industry.

In the final essay, “Releases,” she writes about being pregnant with her son, how it changed her understanding of her own flesh. On a bike ride while pregnant, she has an epiphany. “It doesn’t matter what I look like, I realized,” she writes. “I wanted to cry out:

Thank you! What a joy life can be in this body.” There’s hope in the positive thoughts about how strong her body can be, how much it cando, how it’s a beautiful tool. But it’s a tool nonetheless, and one that proves difficult to both incorporate into and distinguish from her sense of self. “I didn’t know how to marry the identity and ego that I’d kept as separate as possible from my work with the one that the world was now labeling a sex symbol,” she writes. headtopics.com

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I have to believe a better world is possible, even if the specifics ofhoware foggy. There’s no winning, but perhaps that means there’s no real losing either: Any art, any writing, any attempt to detangle ourselves from the cruel stagnation of body-shaming is progress.

Read more: BuzzFeed »

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Unless it’s a picture book, not interested.

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Emily Ratajkowski - Sixth & ILast year, emrata’s “Buying Myself Back” essay for TheCut sparked fierce discussion about what it means to be a woman and a commodity. On 11/16, she’ll share from her new book, MY BODY, with hannarosin at sixthandi. In-person & virtual tix available: