No one should ever be shamed for their sexuality. The chemistry that makes us tick on the inside should never cause for emotional scars. That’s why Emily Ratajkowski’s much-circulated essay at Lenny Letter about being “made to feel guilty about her sexuality” as a teenager is so damn powerful.
“Our family member sobbed to my mother and me at dinner after; she was worried for me, worried about the looks I got from men, because I was wearing what I was wearing. I needed to protect myself, she explained. The same year, my parents hosted a dinner party where I spoke freely, keeping up with the mature humor and storytelling, an only child comfortable sharing my conversation with adults. On my way to the bathroom, before dessert, an older family friend took me aside, separate from the rest of the party: ‘You need to hide out, a girl like you, keep a low profile.'”
What? Why? For being a cool, cunning adult? For being able to “keep up with the conversation”? She continues:
“Teachers, friends, adults, boyfriends — individuals who were not as regulated as those in the highly scrutinized fashion world were more often the ones to make me feel uncomfortable or guilty about my developing sexuality … I found the same people who faulted the modeling industry for being oppressive and sexist were frequently missing entirely their own missteps and faux pas. Their comments felt much more personal and thus landed that much harder.”
“I wish the world had made it clear to me that people’s reactions to my sexuality were not my problems, they were theirs.”
This is bullshit. Not Emily’s words, but those reactions from people around her. It instantly reminded me of a few things she said in a conversation we had during the summer that the now-infamous “Blurred Lines” video dropped. I asked her what i was like to be naked in front of so many people for so long, along with the ensuing controversy. Her answer was pretty great:
You know, I think it’s really important that women feel good in their bodies and that they’re confident. That’s really what this whole campaign is about: That women are getting sexier because they feel better about themselves and they’re able to express themselves. I think the video was a great platform for that. There was a female director, Diane Martel, who’s amazing and been in the business forever. She was on a bullhorn yelling at Robin Thicke and Pharrell “do this” and “do that” and it just kept the energy really high. She made me feel very comfortable and directed me to be really snide and sassy and confident. So it’s great.
You know, I think nudity and sexiness has always been controversial and I think it always will. But I think there’s a humor in the video that’s really important, just like how the Axe campaigns about hot women have this very take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt humor. I think the way that we were sassy and confident in the video was something different than what a lot people thought. I think that because we were so confident, there was no way to perceive it as derogatory. But on the other hand, I really appreciate the people looking out for that kind of stuff. I think that criticism is totally valid, but if you look a little bit deeper there is something else there.
The bottomline is this: It’s pretty uncool to shame anyone over body image or sexuality, be chicks or dudes. So knock it out?
BTW, you can listen to our conversation here. Sorry for my annoying laugh. I can’t help it. I’m a goofy idiot.