Meet the real Emily Ratajkowski
She found fame dancing half-naked in a music video, but has gone on to carve out a credible acting career. When it comes to Emily Ratajkowski, the biggest mistake would be to underestimate her
Like most people, I first noticed Emily Ratajkowski in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video, the uncensored version of which features her dancing naked except for a flesh-coloured G-string. Later, she played a busty schoolgirl in Gone Girl. Her career since has featured many half-naked Instagram pics. All of which is why Piers Morgan has written her off as a ‘global bimbo’, sniping that her feminism would make Emmeline Pankhurst turn in her grave.
It’s lucky, then, that I don’t judge women by what Piers Morgan thinks of them. Look harder, and there have always been clear signs that there’s far more to Emily than her body. She is politically engaged – supporting Bernie Sanders and a radical left; campaigning for Planned Parenthood. Her performance in upcoming ’80s-set romcom Cruise has been hailed as ‘superb’ by critics.
Emily is mid-shoot when I arrive. She is head-turningly beautiful – long limbs, delicate features, pooling brown eyes. As interesting, watching her, is how aware of her body she is, studying the photographer’s images, considering her angles, the jut of her hip. Before Emily, 27, was a model, she studied history of art. Now, she says – settling down, swaddled in a giant white robe – she enjoys the way Instagram allows her to marry curating and art-directing. Are selfies art? ‘ Yes!’ she grins, ‘I think selfies have more to do with talking about gaze, especially for women. I don’t know if that is always art but they definitely engage in a conversation about the gaze – a new level of self-portrait.’ She hates art elitism, though. ‘ The thing that made me not like the art world is snobbery and the bullshit,’ she grins. ‘Art in every form should be about a visceral response.’
She is, of course, much smarter than many people (those who still find it confusing that a beautiful woman who enjoys her own body can also be intelligent) give her credit for. We meet in Paris, after her appointment as the face of Paco Rabanne’s new Pure XS For Her fragrance. This is fitting because Emily shares both the sexy stylishness of Parisian girls and the philosophy of French feminists. She admires how Frenchwomen embrace their sexuality in a way that’s ‘never vulgar’ or ‘obvious’ because they always ‘have ownership of their bodies’. She is confident straddling the sexy-feminist dichotomy because she is the one defining the expression of her sexuality.
Her early experiences of the female body were formative. She studied art, taking life-drawing classes as a teen. On holidays in Europe she hung out on Spanish beaches surrounded by topless women. All of which gave her a natural appreciation of nudity ‘rather than making it always about sex’.
Still, as her own body developed, she was embarrassed to find it being policed. She recalls an incident when she was 13 – ‘I had quite a figure at that point, curvy with really big breasts’ – when she wore a cute dress to a dance and was turned away for looking too sexy. ‘It was so embarrassing. I wasn’t having sex and didn’t know what being sexy was so it was very strange to get that kind of reaction. I felt like it was my fault although it wasn’t.’ Her mum went crazy, writing a letter saying, ‘ You do not police my daughter just because she looks different…’ Emily says, ‘Seeing her response to those things – never letting me feel guilty… the way she raged against
women must feel Liberated, not constrained, by feminism
AMBITIOUS OUTSPOKEN UNAPOLOGETIC
PREVIOUS PAGE Sleeveless button- up blouse, £ 1,700, and Shetland print longsleeve knit body, £ 1,250, both louis vuitton ( louisvuitton. com) THIS PAGE Vintage leather jacket, £ 4,303,miu miu ( miumiu. com)