Emily Ratajkowski is never shy about schooling people on how her choice to show off her body and express her sexuality isn’t cause for slut-shaming. But the 26-year-old model wasn’t always this comfortable with her sexuality.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Ratajkowski opened up about how she struggled to find her identity after she was sexualized by men as early as 12 years old. Ratajkowski, who called the experience an “interesting introduction into womanhood,” recalled noticing her body looking different than her peers.
After she started developing D-cup breasts, she started receiving unwanted attention from people who saw her as more mature than she was. “I was a 12 year old [with D-cup breasts] but people looked at me as a 21 year old,” Ratajkowski said.
The experience led to a lot of confusion where Ratajkowski was forced to justify what she wore and how she acted in order for people to not sexualize her. Early on, she noticed a double standard that men didn’t have to explain themselves in the same way.
“It was really difficult for me to understand and to come to terms with—that identity, people’s perception of me,” she said. “It’s hard for a 12-year-old girl, who is basically feeling like ‘Why don’t you just leave me alone,’ because I don’t see men having to justify what they wear or how they express themselves.”
REVEALED: January cover star #EmilyRatajkowski talks feminism, criticism and being controversial. Visit HarpersBazaarArabia.com to read the interview. Photographer: Pamela Hanson at Trunk Archive Stylist: Naomi Smith Hair: John Ruggiero at Starworks Artists Make-up: Jo Strettell at Tracey Mattingly Manicure: Nettie Davis at The Wall Group Dress & necklace: @louisvuitton
Ratajkowski learned to embrace her sexuality after a conversation with her mom. The “Gone Girl” actress recalled her mother teaching her about how her body and the way that she looked wasn’t her problem, so she shouldn’t feel a pressure to change herself to make others comfortable.
“The fact that I didn’t feel I should have to change who I am for someone else [is because of my mom.]” Ratajkowski said. “She told me, ‘Wear whatever you want. Do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. That’s just your body and that’s who you are so it’s not your issue.’ There was an acceptance there.”
We’re glad Ratajkowski made it past her teen years and beacon of feminist wisdom we know today. Her experience is another reminder that our bodies are for ourselves and no one else.