My Body
by
Emily Ratajkowski
published 9 Nov 2021
ISBN:
9781250817860
★★★★★

I don't know what caused me to order this book at the library, but I did. It's not my usual fare; I'm not really big on celebrity gossip, and I didn't know who she was before reading this book. Yet I thought this was an extraordinary and moving set of stories.

Ms. Ratajkowski, a model best known as one of the dancing naked women in the Blurred Lines music video, is a lesson in contradictions. She's clearly a smart woman, and had she been born with a different set of gene sequence that determines your body mass index or raised in a different home she would probably be a fine arts professor somewhere. She recognizes the toxic environment that she participates in (and upholds) but doesn't necessarily condemn it. Her participation in an entertainment industry that promotes the degradation of women for money comes off a bit as an addict who knows they have a problem and is disgusted by it, but isn't quite ready to quit. Who hasn't felt the pressure to set aside one's values for money and security?

The modeling industry gives and takes. She has taken lavish free vacations, received expensive gifts, and socialized with the rich and famous, but she has been sexually assaulted more than once and has had her privacy violated more than once by the theft or dissemination of private, sexualized photos of her. She has been talked down to, manhandled, commanded by men and women alike to strip down on demand so they can inspect her body. It seems as though she responds to these offenses against her bodily autonomy by making her nudity widespread and easily accessible, essentially flooding the market with her body and making it less lucrative to try and profit off of it without her consent.

While they are incredibly different people, I felt reminded at times of Hunger by Roxane Gay. Both women have complicated relationships with their bodies and navigating the expectations from others that their appearances draw, and both sort of inspect the question of to what extent our body is part of our identity.

I suppose, in sum, what I took away from this book was this: Emily and I have little in common, have made wildly different choices, and seem to want wildly different things out of life. However, there were moments in this book that I felt such a sense of kinship with her that it felt that in seeing this little piece of Emily, I was seeing myself, too, and it was wholly unexpected and might have even made me leak out a tear two.