In a world that exploits women, Emily Ratajkowski is exploited. Is this progress?
The figure of the modeling agent must be on par with the personal injury lawyer and tobacco lobbyist when it comes to the professions of wicked fellows. Has an honorable and benevolent modeling agent ever been engaged in print, film, television or the stage? Are those very words doomed to suggest a peeping cartoon rubbing his hands and doing “ah-oogaNoises as an underpaid model struggles to funnel money into her cartoon bank account?
Emily Ratajkowski’s essay book will not change the record. It has several modeling agents, none of them tasty. One arranges for Ratajkowski to attend the Super Bowl with a random financier for $ 25,000. (It’s up to his client to infer that the words “go to” contain certain expectations.) Another stops at a photo of teenage Ratajkowski and says, “Now that’s the look. This is how we know this girl gets [expletive]. “A third agent sends 20-year-old Ratajkowski to work in the Catskills without mentioning that it is a lingerie shoot, or that the photographer will show Ratajkowski nude photos of another woman, or that he will ask. it is also up to her to take it off.
The journey of the Catskills turns into a horror story. After being sexually assaulted by the photographer, Ratajkowski, having nowhere to go, sleeps at his home, only to wake up to find him posting a photo of her on Instagram. Adding injury after injury, the photographer later publishes a book of photos taken the night of the assault, leaving Ratajkowski “livid and frenzied” as the book sells, goes through reprints, and sells again.
This essay, titled “Buying Myself Back”, is the strongest of the 11 essays collected here, which are serious, personal, repetitive and short-sighted. “It’s a book about capitalism,” Ratajkowski told The New York Times in an interview. Arguably, the shady photographer could say the same for his book of ill-gotten photos. But while he simply demonstrates the mundane fact that men daily exploit women’s bodies for money (and pleasure, and fame, and the Oscars), which Ratajkowski describes in the essay – which was received both with applause and negative reactions – is the ambiguity of exploiting one’s own body.
This ambiguity is present in these essays, often in a frustrating way. Part of the problem is that Ratajkowski’s conception of herself conflicts with the reality she describes, which is a heartfelt but infuriating sort of celebrity dysmorphia. Evaluating her career, she concludes: “My position has brought me closer to wealth and power and has given me some autonomy, but it has not resulted in true emancipation. Only Ratajkowski can determine his sense of autonomy. But wealth and power are easier to quantify, and it seems fair to insist that Ratajkowski – with a booming women’s clothing line, 28 million Instagram followers, a partnership with L’Oréal and a Super Bowl commercial under his belt – just isn’t in “close proximity” to either.
In an essay titled “Bc Hello Halle Berry”, Ratajkowski is paid to go on vacation to the Maldives and gets angry when her husband calls her a “capitalist”. This comment comes when the two are lounging on beach chairs, people-watching a bit. “I emphasized that we are not like other guests at this resort,” writes Ratajkowski. The other guests, she tells her husband, are really rich.
“Come on, baby,” her husband said. “You are also a capitalist, admit it. “
“I try to be successful in a capitalist system,” Ratajkowski replies. “But that doesn’t mean that I As the game. ”This is largely relatable; I’m pretty sure most people who aren’t Jeff Bezos are unhappy with where they stand in the US economy in 2021. But just being aware that you’re doing something which you see as morally fragile does not constitute resistance or absolution. In this case, the morally fragile part focuses on Ratajkowski’s instinct that women are hurt by the chasm between themselves and the filtered individuals, Facetuned, genetically or photoshopically gifted which are shown to them in advertisements implying that only Product X can help reduce this abyss. Shortly before the beach conversation, Ratajkowski posts a photo of herself on Instagram to promote a bikini from her company. At breakfast, she counts her husband’s likes: “Five hundred thousand in an hour. Not bad.” The title of the essay comes from a quote attributed to Halle Berry: “My appearance did not spare me an ordeal. I bet millions of unattractive people wouldn’t agree.
There are moments of courageous self-disclosure in “My Body,” and parts that made me laugh, like his description of a giant photo of Victoria’s Secret models “arching their backs and holding index fingers up. mouth like she’s telling me to flirt Shhh. “(You know the pose.) She’s doing a public service by extracting the treatment from Robin Thicke’s” Blurred Lines “video, which might be the most embarrassing PDF ever. entertainment story. (A treat is a pitch describing the projected tone and content of the finished video.) As she scrolls through it, Ratajkowski sees phrases like “TRUE PIMP SWAG” and “NAKED GIRLS XXX” and “THIS IS FAR FROM MASOGYNIST ”. [sic] She refuses the job, but reconsiders after meeting the director – a woman, to Ratajkowski’s surprise – and negotiating the rate.
This video is what launched Ratajkowski to fame in 2013. With his on-screen hashtags and images of Thicke whispering “I know you want it” into a model’s ear, the video now has the looks so dated it might as well be a Civil War daguerreotype. Ratajkowski is funny and charming, dancing awkwardly and rolling her eyes at the idiocy unfolding around her. But it’s still a video that features three half-naked women (the models) frolicking among three clothed men (the artists), demonstrating a vision – the director’s vision? Robin Thicke’s vision? Both, maybe? – that nudity is precisely the “skill” that these women bring to the table.
The essay on “fuzzy lines” is the one that most clearly captures the confusing nature of Ratajkowski’s position. She is thoughtful and skeptical, and has been treated miserably during her career; she struggles intensely with her sense of victimization at the hands of those who would use her body to sell their products. So it seems odd that her empowerment comes in the form of doing just that, albeit on her own terms and with her own products. It is undoubtedly better that Ratajkowski, rather than a horny bozo, receives the benefits of her image – but does a more equitable distribution of the money really make a difference to young women browsing Instagram, quickly absorbing new reasons for it? despise yourself? This is, it seems to me, the insoluble moral question at the heart of this book.
In a later essay, “Transactions”, Ratajkowski takes up the Maldives metaphor. Contemplating other models and actresses she has known, Ratajkowski writes: “There was no way to completely avoid gambling: we all had to make money in one way or another. And yet, there is no binary that is, on the one hand, “Make money in a specific way and feel conflicted about it” and, on the other hand, “Don’t. not earn any money at all and feel virtuous ”. Putting it in these terms creates the false impression that there is, at the end of the day, no choice – an act of self-exoneration and, more specifically, helplessness.