My Body by Emily Ratajkowski Review

Nicole Belcastro ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer 

Emily Ratajkowski is a famous model and actress with nearly 30 million Instagram followers. In 2020, New York Magazine released her essay “Buying Myself Back,” which offered readers a preview of her upcoming essay book My Body. Ratajkowski seeks to take the focus off her physical body in this venture. The cover of My Body is plain and only adorned with the title and author. The cover art was intentional because Ratajkowski wanted people to pay attention to her thoughts. 

Ratajkowski does not claim that her essays will resolve feminist issues, writing in her introduction that “the purpose of this book is not to arrive at answers, but to honestly explore ideas I can’t help but return to.” She explores them through the lens of a model and her personal experiences. 

The essay that gained the most media attention from her anthology was entitled “Blurred Lines,” named after Robin Thicke’s 2013 single, which after release has been criticized for “perpetuating misogyny male chauvinism and a culture of date rape.” After being convinced by renowned director Diane Martel, Ratajkowski agreed to be in the music video. After the music video, Ratajkowski skyrocketed to what she calls “sexual fame”, which she believed gave her power. 

During the music video shoot, Ratajkowski was groped by Robin Thicke. When the “Blurred Lines” music video began receiving criticisms for being anti-feminist, interviewers asked Ratajkowski about her experience on set. She claimed that the shoot was pleasurable because she wanted to defend the environment that the female director strived to create. Ratajkowski waited to share the depth of her personal experience until publishing her book. At the essay’s conclusion, she writes, “facing the reality of the dynamics at play would have meant admitting how limited my power really was.”  

A common theme in My Body seems to be Ratajkowski navigating when she feels empowered and when she feels powerless. Admittedly, she confides that she still gets a rush from her Instagram likes, refreshing her posts immediately after posting. 

Ratajkowski seems to only be writing to and for herself at most times. She discusses how her body has been commodified and how she is seen by men. But, she fails to address how models conforming to abnormal beauty standards affect women.  

Ratajkowski never acknowledges the privilege she possesses. In the first essay, she declares herself a “white girl.” Since she fits a white Eurocentric beauty standard, she can “play the game.” Aspiring models who fall outside of this rigid beauty standard are never allowed to “hustle” as Ratajkowski did. In her failure to acknowledge her privilege, she does not accurately portray the industry she works in. 

Ratajkowski repeatedly mentions that she is just “playing the game,” meaning how to succeed financially in a cisnormative and heteronormative capitalist society. In her essay “Transactions,” Ratajkowski shares her experience accompanying billionaire Jho Low to the 2014 Super Bowl. This is just another example of how she has “played the game” in her career. What Ratajkowski fails to realize is that you can never outplay men while playing within the confines of the patriarchy. By “playing the game,” Ratajkowski is playing a part in upholding the patriarchy. What she is right about is women cannot avoid the game entirely. However, her tone makes it seem like she is looking to absolve herself without taking any responsibility. 

The most powerful and direct essay in this anthology of essays is “Men Like You.” In this essay, Ratajkowski shares an almost entirely redacted email from her former manager. In the essay, she candidly discusses how happy she was to be noticed and seen by her former manager, and examines the experience in hindsight as the 30-year-old woman she is today. She proclaims that she has grown from her previous unfounded shame and blame and is ready to air out her mistakes. It seems Ratajkowski thought that was what she was accomplishing with this book, but it fell short of this goal. What good is sharing your mistakes if you do not take responsibility and change?

Another strong point in the book is how Ratajkowski uses experiences from before her modeling career to explain the beginning of her relationship with her body. In the first essay “Beauty Rules,” she explains how she used to pray for beauty despite not being religious. In later essays, she mentions how Britney Spears and Halle Berry helped shape her high school experience. This makes her experiences feel so familiar to readers that some of her essays read like entries from the journals of women everywhere.

The most striking experience shared is when Ratajkowski explains how her mother took pride in having a beautiful daughter and relished in the attention her daughter received. She prompts an interesting thought here, because she leaves readers to ponder how their parents’ words and actions may have placed beauty standards on them before social media had the chance to. Even if parents mean well, the underlying message is that being pretty is an epic success. Society uplifts pretty women and ostracizes those who fail at being pretty—the failure of not being what society deems pretty is total. If women can only derive power from beauty and do not measure up, they have no power, and with that comes no opportunities. 

Emily Ratajkowski’s My Body deserves a 3 out of 5-star rating. Her writing is conversational, and she takes a simple approach to some complicated topics. For her debut, Ratajkowski shows strong promise. If she were to continue writing, readers would be interested in a more introspective collection of essays regarding women, their bodies, their power, and where that comes from.

This book would be a great starting point for anyone who is beginning to join feminist conversations. While this book is not nuanced as it claims to be, it is a pleasurable, relatable read that presents some difficult concepts as approachable. 

My Body can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target.

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