How should a woman be? These sharp, vibrant essays offer one woman's heartfelt and rich search for answers.
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Why I love it
Author, Sweetbitter and Stray
I had the fortune of coming to Emily Ratajkowski’s writing without knowing much about her. I didn’t know her definition within our cultural lexicon, and I didn’t know why she was famous. This is a blessing that most readers won’t have—to meet her on her own terms—but that’s also what makes My Body even more impressive. A woman with so much visibility and influence has put herself into such an honest space. Her essays take down the artifice of celebrity and reveal a curious and unflinching human being asking hard ethical questions of society and herself.
While none of us can imagine what it’s like to be Emily Ratajkowski, what’s so remarkable about her essays is that her story is relatable. Ratajkowski takes us through her childhood and adolescence and shows us the confusing titillation of navigating sexuality and power. In “Beauty Lessons” I found myself wondering: When did I first learn about the male gaze? In “Toxic” I asked myself: When did I first internalize that gaze? And in “Transactions” I asked, When did I become complicit in it? Reading “Men Like You” and “Buying Myself Back,” I recalled the times I’ve said “No,” and it wasn’t clear enough or loud enough or it didn’t matter. In Ratajkowski’s stories there was my own young person’s naivete about the systems that bind us—but also the evolving relationship to my body and to my voice and how I want to use them within those systems. These are big topics, questions of a lifetime, and Ratajkowski isn’t insinuating that she has an answer. I think one of the gifts of this book is that she seems to know this work is never finished. The growth is in continuing to try.
Emily Ratajkowski is an acclaimed model and actress, 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 furor with the provocative display of her body as an unapologetic statement of feminist empowerment. The subsequent evolution in her thinking about our culture’s commodification of women is the subject of this book.
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 culture’s fetishization of girls and female beauty, its obsession with and contempt for women’s sexuality, the perverse dynamics of the fashion and film industries, and the grey area between consent and abuse.
Nuanced, unflinching, and incisive, My Body marks the debut of a fierce writer brimming with courage and intelligence.