Emily Ratajkowski isn’t trying to ‘conform to a patriarchal standard of beauty’

LACMA 2015 Art+Film Gala honouring James Turrell And Alejandro G Inarritu, presented by Gucci

Emily Ratajkowski covers the March issue of InStyle. She’s promoting some actual film/Netflix projects too – she has a small part in a Netflix series called Easy, and she has two independent films coming out, In Darkness and Cruise. I don’t know what to make of her acting career, but much like my feelings regarding Kate Upton, I’m fine if Emily wants to stick to modeling and being an internet celebrity. Then again, I’m sort of an Emily Apologist. I don’t think she’s dumb, and I often find myself agreeing with what she says about feminism, sexuality and more. This InStyle interview was like that – while no one is ever going to say “let’s give Emily Ratajkowski an award for feminism,” I don’t have a problem with what she says about the choices she makes for herself. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Moving to New York in her early 20s: “All I met was trust-fund babies. And I was like, ‘Oh, this is no longer the amazing cultural center my parents had told me about.’”

Her bad choices after Gone Girl: She was hit with a flood of offers, including a few “cheesy” ones that she admits she was too quick to accept. (She doesn’t name names, but her role in 2015’s We Are Your Friends seems a likely candidate.) “At the time I thought, ‘I’m going to just make a bunch of money and then go back to school. To be honest, I hadn’t figured out that I had a real career on my hands. So I was like, ‘OK, this person wants me to do this? Cool.’ And then all of a sudden I realized that these projects are just not me. That’s when I shifted toward more meaningful things.”

Choosing to post and pose for half-naked photos: “The main criticism that I get is ‘Aren’t you just conforming to a patriarchal standard of beauty?’ Well, this is just the body I was given. I didn’t do anything to it—it’s just my body. But even if I had altered it, that would be fine too.”

Whether Caitlyn Jenner is “bad” for caring about her clothes and nails: “She’s allowed to do that—it’s her choice. If she decides she wants to be a super-femme who’s all about the clothes, great. She can conform to that gender identity all she wants because it’s a personal decision.” Applying that same standard to everyone, Ratajkowski says, “is a way of including all women and also saying that no matter what the circumstances, it’s up to them how they want to be a woman.”

Being mad about a 2012 photoshoot she did which is being shown at an art show: “So I used Twitter to reinforce an idea that I’ve believed in forever, which is that it’s up to me to choose when and how I want to share my sexuality.” It was no accident that she posted a particularly revealing photo on Instagram a few days later. “Of course, a bunch of the headlines were like, ‘Emily complains about nude photos and then posts her own sexy selfie.’ And I was like, ‘That’s exactly my point! The difference is, it’s my decision to post that.’ ”

She’s real, and cynical: “My friends are not in the industry—they’re young artists or knitwear designers or whatever,” she says. Her boyfriend, Jeff Magid, a musician who studied philosophy at Brown University, jokes to her that when he moved out west a few years ago he was eager to chill out in the land of carefree optimists but somehow he ended up with the dark, intense Rataj­kowski—“the one cynical Californian.”

[From InStyle]

Not to nitpick (ha, I love to nitpick), but Emily’s argument about choosing to post photos sort of falls apart when she’s talking about that art show – you can see more about that here. Okay, so she doesn’t appreciate that an old photoshoot she did is now being used in a photography exhibit. But wasn’t it her CHOICE to pose for the photographer in the first place? And didn’t she sign a release? I mean, the argument is more complicated than “I’m the only one who can post my naked photos!”

As for her argument to this: “Aren’t you just conforming to a patriarchal standard of beauty?” – her answer is okay, but the larger point is that because she naturally conforms to the patriarchal standard of beauty, she profits from it and finds fame from it. It’s not so much that she’s “conforming” as she’s a cog within patriarchy.

14th Annual Leather and Laces Saturday Night

Cover courtesy of InStyle, photo courtesy of WENN.

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40 Responses to “Emily Ratajkowski isn’t trying to ‘conform to a patriarchal standard of beauty’”

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  1. HH says:

    Even though she has decent things to say about feminism, I don’t find her saying much about feminism that doesn’t relate to her (ie she’s all about feminism as it relates to the male gaze). Although, I could just be looking through my bias against celebrities talking about feminism. It seemed awesome at first, but many times I find they just see the utility in women’s empowerment as a way to shield from valid criticism. Also, she went to bat for Melania Trump in the name of feminism, and ugh… I just can’t. I’m over all things Trump right now.

    • Bridget says:

      I think I get what you’re saying. Her brand of feminism is directly related to the fact that she so closely adheres to our mainstream definitions of beauty. That isn’t to say that beautiful women can’t be feminists, but rather that all of Emily’s statements are informed by the immense privilege that her beauty has given her. I don’t deny her right to choose to show off her body, but for someone that’s constantly trying to tell us she’s more than just a pair of boobs she’s not really giving us much else.

  2. JA says:

    Someone said it best on here, Emily is selling something but I’m just not buying it. Pass…

    • SnarkySnarkers says:

      Thats perfect! Also, did anyone else roll their eyes out of their head when they read “My friends are not in the industry—they’re young artists or knitwear designers or whatever,” Or whatever? Don’t bother her with the petty details of her peasant friend’s lives! ALl that matters is they aren’t industry people! Geeze!

  3. Marcy says:

    Sometimes I get that try hard or hypocrite vibe from her. Our body is our own yes but the photographers do get releases on images to use as many times as they wish that’s why a lot of retired porn stars get mad they retire and 5 years later photographers will release old sets of them more naughty that they had in their archives once you pose or put it on the net it’s forever out there.

  4. littlemissnaughty says:

    I don’t care what she does with her career or her body. But I think she misunderstood the question? Or at least I read it differently. It’s not that the shape of her body conforms to patriarchal beauty standards, it’s that her entire career is built on them. She’s a beautiful woman and she uses that as a basis for success. That’s not new or a particularly bad thing but she seems to be so unwilling to acknowledge that.

    • Maria T. says:

      Exactly. I find this social media brand of feminism so exhausting: “look at me, look at me! I am a feminist! Here’s my ass!”

      • Tessy says:

        @Maria T. LOL! You said it. This new brand of whatever it may be certainly isn’t feminism.
        I do like that multicolour blouse she’s wearing although I’d remember to put my pants on before I went out.

      • squee says:

        Thank you.

    • zxc says:

      Just like she refuses to acknowledge she very, very obviously had her lips and breasts done. I mean seriously?

  5. lala says:

    Her feminism seems to begin and end with “I want to be sexy and taken seriously” – ok great, we can all agree on that basic premise. But for her, that’s it – her discussions about feminism are about as deep as a puddle. I’m dubbing this “feMEnism” where your feminism is only about you, you you you.

    • Katie says:

      She thinks she’s found a way to justify her desperation for attention by calling it feminism.
      I’m posing naked *constantly* because I can and if you criticise it then you’re curtailing my rights.


    • I Choose Me says:

      You nailed it lala.

  6. jen says:

    To each their own, I just do not find her attractive. She is known for her body, posing naked or half naked, that’s it. Those boobs of hers are already down to her belly button, so I suggest less nudity and more bra wearing.

    • minx says:

      Yeah, I had to look up how old she is…only 25.

    • Kcat says:

      What the hell? This is such a ridiculous comment. Her boobs are gorgeous. And bras are annoying, I almost never wear one.

    • Rose says:

      What? She has an amazing body , and her boobs look spectacular..
      And nothing wrong with posing for sexy shoots, I do and I honestly have so much more confidence now. I am not even close to the same species as her in terms of looks but I have fun . Though I don’t show as much as she does.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Ok Emily irks me but are you serious with your comment about her boobs? Boobs that size are going to hang that way. That’s just reality and gravity for you. And hers still look amazing.

  7. OhDear says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with everything she says (IMO think she relies too heavily on the idea that something is automatically feminist if the woman chose it) and I’m sure part of this is PR. But I’ve been impressed by her willingness to say things that can be thought of as controversial (e.g. supporting Planned Parenthood last year), esp. as other celebrities known for their “activism” wouldn’t touch that issue for fear of losing fans.

  8. QueenB says:

    but she profits from a system that discriminates against others. that shames people ahd make them feel bad about their bodies to ultimately buy products. i dont know why there are never any bigger discussion about beauty privilege. lets just keep celebrating and reward people for being good physically attractive…

    • Locke Lamora says:

      But why should we shame her for using the system and taking the opportunities she was given?

      • QueenB says:

        because its on the backs of other people and if you profit from a system of oppression you are guilty as well. is it bad that white actors get roles for PoC based on their skin color? that they are taking the opportunities they were given? using the system? should we shame them? yeah we should. same for her.

      • Locke Lamora says:

        I don’t think women cashing in on their beauty is the same as white actors taking parts from PoCs.

      • Brandi says:

        I don’t think it’s shaming her to call out the inherent hypocrisy of decrying the patriarchy while profiting from a system that is massively patriarchal. I think all models/celebrities (male or female) who claim to be feminists are hypocrites on this subject, to varying degrees. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that much of her “feminism” centers around defending her choice to be a model and pose nude for the male gaze. Nearly everything about the entertainment industry is geared towards men even now and men are still the biggest beneficiaries of it. That’s absolutely her decision of course, and I don’t believe in telling anyone what to do with their bodies, but we should be able to call a spade a spade without being accused of shaming her…

      • lala says:

        @ Brandi – yes to everything you said

  9. Adele Dazeem says:

    One word:

  10. itsjustme says:

    All im getting from reading these comeents is that women “just cant win”

  11. WTF says:

    I just came to co-sign the other comments. I can’t say it any better. You are profiting from your privilege, that doesn’t make you a martyr it makes you an opportunist. Not saying that you shouldn’t do it, but just stop whining.

  12. Neo says:

    The patriarchal standard of beauty, eh? You mean her body is notably better than yours and you’re jealous. Got it. I’m looking forward to not bothering to read subsequent comments about how various people’s bodies can lift heavy things and survive diseases. I mean better to look at.

    • QueenB says:

      “You mean her body is notably better than yours and you’re jealous” you really dont get it. bodies are not “better” if they fit in the system. white skin isnt better just because its rewarded more.

      • Madailein says:

        ? I don’t believe Neo meant “better” in a literal way, at all; she was being ironic. Read the rest of her comment.

  13. dttime2 says:

    i just can’t with this one…are we supposed to believe she’s a great thespian when every time we turn around she’s half naked?? I get it …your body your choice on how you showcase it. But lets not pretend you’re getting roles because of your talent…….i don’t know i’m a bit stabby today after my nightmare last night where i was Kim K’s stylist and trying to get her to wear pretty, suitable clothes for her body type and meeting resistance. I woke up cranky lol

  14. Merritt says:

    Emily is an example of “I choose my choice” feminism. Almost everything she says on the subject is about nudity.

  15. LanaK says:

    Her before and after pics clearly show breast implants, so I guess it’s the “body she was given” at the plastic surgeon so why lie?

  16. thaliasghost says:


    That is all I can muster up right now.

  17. LanaK says:

    Her real breasts are quite small, nothing special, there’s tons of pictures of her natural old breasts, regardless of her lies.

    Also, pics of her laying down look like a grapefruit, rounded at the armpit, implants plain as day.

    I don’t have a problem with the implants, but she goes out of her way to lie about it, I have a problem with that. I got my D’s from my Grandma!

  18. TrixC says:

    She’s not stupid, but she’s definitely not as smart as she thinks she is.

  19. Rice says:

    Not a fan of high-waisted jeans. That’s all I’ve got.