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Emily Ratajkowski talks self-doubt, career highs and dealing with haters | How I Got Here | BAZAAR UK

Of Money and Men: Emily Ratajkowski in Conversation With Amia Srinivasan

“I have so much anxiety about this”, says Emily Ratajkowski from the floor of her Manhattan apartment. “Even my body has responded to the desire to know how this book will be received”. Ratajkowski has long since come to terms with relinquishing control over her image, but for the 30-year-old San Diego native, the project of removing her body from the conversation has been a challenging one. After more than a decade spent embodying what many—Ratajkowski included—would say is an impossible beauty standard, the model and businesswoman has endeavored in recent years to shine light on the toxic aspects of an industry that long held her up as the epitome of female sexuality. Last fall, she published an essay about her experiences with on-the-job assault and exploitation, naming a prominent photographer in the process. The essay sparked seismic reactions—both positive and negative—in the fashion and art worlds. But instead of dwelling on the public’s reaction, Ratajkowski, a new mother, has done her best to focus on the process of creation.

My Body, Ratajkowski’s recently released book of essays, is the latest step in this process. Over 12 essays—concerned less with her body itself than with its status as an object of fetishization—Ratajkowski confronts with unflinching frankness topics like shame, solidarity, and the search for male validation in a culture that often confuses exploitation with empowerment. The result is a book that, in the opinion of the philosopher Amia Srinivasan, opens itself up to just about anyone—teenage boys and feminist scholars alike. “I’ve always been drawn to sparse, unpretentious writing”, Ratajkowski says. “The purpose of an essay is to get to the root of something, to investigate it”. To mark the release of My Body, Ratajkowski joined Srinivasan over Zoom for a discussion about money, the myth of being a muse, and what it means to raise a son in today’s world. – MARA VEITCH

EMILY RATAJKOWSKI: It’s so nice to meet you!

AMIA SRINIVASAN: It’s really nice to meet you too, congratulations on the book!

RATAJKOWSKI: Thank you. I’m such a huge fan. I love The Right to Sex.

SRINIVASAN: I read your book in one sitting and it reminded me of something Marilyn Monroe said in her final interview. She said, “Like any creative human being, I would like a bit more control”. It seems to me that this theme of power and control is maybe the central theme of the book? It runs through all 12 essays. When you choose to take off your clothes or post an Instagram photo of your ass, is this an act of control? Is being able, so successfully, to make men want you, to understand what men want and play on that desire, a form of power? Or are all of these things just simulacra of power and control? My sense is that you give a pretty ambivalent answer to these questions. On one hand, you rightly condemn those who criticize you and other women for capitalizing on their beauty. And you acknowledge that the way you look has given you a certain form of power. But in the book, you tell these stories again and again of realizing that the real power lies with men. The men who direct, film, and manage you, who own the companies and production houses, and who so often treat you as fungible and stupid, simply a body to be sold, consumed, and unfortunately occasionally assaulted. Again and again, you express contempt for the control that these men exercise, and a longing for more creative power. Someone, as you say, who might make a movie one day, rather than get naked in one. Do you think that this is a fair assessment, and to what extent was power and control at the forefront of your mind as you set out to write the book?

RATAJKOWSKI: I didn’t know that Marilyn Monroe quote but it’s interesting that she was talking about control, because even when I believed in choice feminism in my early twenties, and believed in the power that I had as somebody who had worked the system, I definitely didn’t feel in control very often. Instagram was one of the places where I first experienced feeling some kind of control, because I was the one who was able to choose the images and put them out. I could go into a whole thing about my relationship to the internet and women and control. I think it’s something that is at the forefront of our cultural conversation right now, around Only Fans and revenge porn and maybe even related to crypto and NFTs and the free internet, but that’s a separate conversation. When I was writing the book, I knew that power and control were huge topics for me, but it wasn’t, “This is a story about power and control”. It was more like, “This is a story where I have a lot of shame, and a lot of complicated feelings about how I acted.” But, maybe there’s something there that is related to these ideas. I experienced what the double-edged sword was like—wearing something tight to school and then realizing that the popular girls weren’t paying attention to me because the boys were paying attention to me, while also feeling my vice principal snapping my bra strap. So much of what women experience is this feeling of, “I’m the one seducing, I’m the one who’s getting this attention, so I have the power”. But it wasn’t until I got older that I was able to look at these experiences that have stuck with me and think about control, and through thinking about control, think about power.

SRINIVASAN: What was so fascinating about the second essay, which is about “Blurred Lines”, was the way you focus on the means of production of it. It was a production run by a woman, mostly staffed by women, and you were with two other women models. You felt playful and in control; that no one was asking you to do things you didn’t want to do. And you were working, and as a work experience, it felt pretty positive. What I like about that so much is that you make a move here that a lot of women who work in sex work make, which is actually a fundamentally Marxist move. It’s to say, “Don’t just fixate on the representation, the thing that comes out and that you see, and ask about the gendered meaning of that. Also think about what goes into the production of it and the making of it”. But then of course there’s a shift, and you talk about this really awful moment when a mediocre pop star feels entitled to put his hands on you, and everyone freezes and no one can really say anything. It’s one of these moments of puncturing, where it turns out that he’s fundamentally in control.

RATAJKOWSKI: Absolutely, especially in relation to sex work, I relate to it a little bit in the way that all of these women are using their bodies and compromising and also finding power, potentially. That essay in particular is really about industry, capitalism, and commodification, because I had approached modeling as a job. I was only interested in the money that I could make. I knew that there was potentially other power with becoming famous or becoming an image of a beautiful woman and what that represented. I grew up in the early aughts, and I’d seen what powerful women looked like. To me they were Britney Spears, and then there were powerful men who were presidents. That was sort of my understanding. So of course I wanted that, but I’d really hardened myself and thought, “I’m never going to have that kind of power, so I’m just going to make as much money as I can”. That meant often, as I write in the book, feeling like a mannequin, working with men who were maybe twice my age and stripping down and turning into their fantasy. “Blurred Lines” was this experience where a bunch of women asked me how I felt. Did I like makeup? Did I like my hair? I let myself relax and enjoy myself on that set. I think it’s one of the reasons that the music video had the success it did, because it isn’t just girls pouting. There’s a silliness to it and that’s a reflection of how I felt on set. The part where the power dynamics became clear was one that I had buried. I found it humiliating and incongruent with what I wanted to believe and feel about my position in the world. Ultimately, when I first wrote an early draft of this, the experience was buried inside of another essay, because I didn’t want it to be “the ‘Blurred Lines’ essay”. Then I realized that it needed to be its own.

SRINIVASAN: You were in an impossible position. You either hide it or bring it up. No matter what, the revelation, which is handled with such subtlety and care, would generate the kind of headlines it has. Like in The Sunday Times, which is a terrible right-wing newspaper. You’ve seen the headline.

RATAJKOWSKI: Not only the headline, but the images have been pictures where my breasts are exposed, and it says, “Emily Eroticakowski Accuses Robin Thicke of Sexual Assault”. It’s such a diminishing of what I actually wanted to say. Even having people approach me and say very kindly, “It’s so wonderful you spoke out”, is kind of missing the point of the essay. I’m looking forward to people being able to read and, I hope, understand why I decided to write it and what the point is of sharing that experience.

SRINIVASAN: If it’s any consolation, another terrible right-wing British newspaper described my book with the headline “The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan: Soviet-Style of Sex Reeducation”.

RATAJKOWSKI: Wow, that actually does make me feel better. [Laughs]

SRINIVASAN: A lot of people experience that kind of mistreatment, especially women who want to think about questions with nuance and ambivalence. A lot of the mainstream press can’t handle that. You expressed a hope that people will actually read the book as you wrote it: a set of complex, ambivalent, sometimes funny, very sharp, and also cold and dark meditations on representation and sex, embodiment, and capitalism. But you also expressed anxiety in the book that you won’t be taken seriously, because women who look like you in particular, and who also capitalize on how they look, are especially not taken seriously. I wonder how confident you are that you are going to be read properly, or are you going to still be read through a lens of male sexual fantasy?

RATAJKOWSKI: I have so much anxiety about this. I’ve lost a bunch of weight in the past month because I’m concerned and scared. My body has actually responded to the desire to how this book will be received and it’s a continuation of the metaphor. But something that I think the book could be criticized for and I totally understand is that I don’t give a lot of solutions, and I can often be cynical. What I’m about to say is not cynical and kind of positive, which is that ultimately, I write about being a muse versus an artist. I didn’t even realize that it was such a large part of the book. In some ways I wish that I had written more about it, but also I have realized that the book is a relic that is about creation and about the muse taking back power and becoming the artist. The act of writing the book has been an attempt at control, but ultimately, you have to release control in order to be happy and just to survive and exist in a meaningful way. I think, with publishing it and knowing that there’s this huge risk of people not reading it at all, and only looking at the headlines, I have to focus on the act of creating the book and the fulfillment that it’s given me, which is really all I ever wanted.

SRINIVASAN: Let’s talk about the shift from being the muse to the artist. I’m interested in the process that went into the actual writing of this book. It’s a very finely honed and controlled literary object. Your prose is spare, often cold, especially when you’re describing moments of male creepiness and assault. It reminds me of early Bret Easton Ellis, that same cold description of a certain toxic superficial culture. But in its places of coldness, it’s very affecting. You also do this very intricate interweaving of different temporal moments and different narratives. In the essay called “Toxic”, you’re interweaving this discussion of Britney Spears with the account of this high school almost-friendship. Then in “Beauty Lessons”, which opens the book, you’ve got this series of numbered vignettes about your childhood formation, your relationship with your mother, beauty, loveability. Can we talk about the craft of essay writing and what it’s about for you?

RATAJKOWSKI: I’ve been an avid reader my whole life, and it was one of the reasons I didn’t write more, because I had so much respect for wonderful writing that I felt like, “Why attempt, why not just appreciate?” I’ve always been drawn to sparse, unpretentious writing. Flowery language doesn’t really interest me. It covers it up. It’s often difficult to be very direct and not flowery because you really have to figure out what the fuck you’re saying. I have so much respect for people who are good at that, especially in essays, because the idea of an essay is to get to the root of something, to investigate it. That was what started the writing. It was not just, “I’m going to write a book”, but more feeling like I wanted to explore experiences and ideas that I couldn’t verbally lay out or organize. I would start on a note in my phone and that was really helpful, because once you start writing inside of essays, you can lose the stream of consciousness that you want to have. You do that particularly well. I think Leslie Jamison also does that really well, where you feel her mind working in the writing, which is very difficult because anyone who’s written knows that once you edit, you’re completely lost in the sentences and you lose the larger shape. So the notes thing allowed me to jump from one idea to the next. And as somebody who has grown up in the age of the internet and enjoys reading long books but can have a short attention span, I appreciate the way you can pick up and put down a book of essays.

SRINIVASAN: Can we talk about money?

RATAJKOWSKI: Yes. I love talking about money.

SRINIVASAN: You describe why you first got into modeling, and it’s because of money. You immediately contextualize it within the 2008 financial crash, which was so formative for people in our generation. You were watching peers moving back home and picking up the service jobs they had in high school, but you didn’t want to do that. Modeling was something you were already doing, but then you went full gung-ho into it. It reminds me of a move that, again, a lot of sex workers make, which is that whenever they write about sex work, they remind people that it’s something they do for money. And the reason you have to remind people is it stops the pathologization of a certain form of activity, because otherwise, people ask, “Why are you taking your clothes off, why are you uploading so many selfies?” Well, it’s a way of making money. It’s only when you forget about money and the broader capitalist system in which we operate that things start to appear pathological.

RATAJKOWSKI: Yes, and that was so important to me because there’s shame around, or at least I felt shame around, being money hungry. Autonomy and freedom and control come with money, and I knew that at a very young age. Nothing terrified me more than watching my friends who went out into the world have to return and give that up. My parents come from the generation where you go to college and get a decent job. Student debt wasn’t really on their mind. When I was a senior and I was deciding to go to UCLA, I took a job at a store. I thought, “I’m going to stop modeling now, and I need to get used to making this kind of money and have some experience in a real situation that I can bring to a place in L.A. and say I’ve actually worked. And I hated it. So even though modeling has all these things about it, I’d rather do it. Everybody also always reminded me that modeling has a very specific window and that if you don’t do it when you’re young and beautiful, it goes away. So I made the decision to jump on that, directly into an industry that when I got sick with the flu and lost some weight, I watched the number on the scale go down and the number of my paychecks go up. So all of a sudden I became hyper aware of how to have more. It’s kind of another conversation for a different book, but when do we start saying, “I have enough financial security, so I’m not going to compromise myself in certain ways because I feel safe and secure?”

SRINIVASAN: You said it’s a topic for another book, but that was actually the question I was going to ask you. When is it enough money?

RATAJKOWSKI: I’m wrestling with that. I write about the experience of being around really rich men. I’ve seen what real money looks like and what kind of lifestyle that guarantees. But I have noticed, and since writing this book, that I feel much more comfortable saying no to things. The money is, to me, still shocking. I kind of can’t believe what I’m offered for my actual time.

SRINIVASAN: One of the suggestions that comes through in “Beauty Lessons” is that there’s money and there’s the very real material drive for money, but there’s also for you and for many women, the internalized misogyny that results in a constant drive for male validation. You talk about how that’s inflected through social media, like the actual oxytocin hit, and I was amazed to find that you get an oxytocin hit off of an Instagram like. People who get like 10 Instagram likes definitely do, too, but it seems like the particular relationship that you were brought up to have with your beauty where you think that you’re lovable insofar as you’re beautiful, is expressed writ large by social media. So there is a sense in which that is what love is now. Love is how many likes you can have. How easy would it be for you to separate yourself from that economy of validation?

RATAJKOWSKI: I’ve started to, and it’s strange unlearning the ways that I understood love and specialness. I lost the distinction between the two, as a young person. That was true of my upbringing, and then I became a famous model with this instant feedback loop of specialness of lovability. It was spooky when I figured out that parallel. What I’ve learned, even just writing this book and why I dedicate the book to my son, is that the way that I’m actively trying to relearn what love and lovability can be is my attempt to be the best person I can be and, ultimately, the best mother. But it’s an ongoing process, because validation like that is really powerful.

SRINIVASAN: What do you think about the economy of validation and desirability in the literary world?

RATAJKOWSKI: I’m terrified. I think it’s going to be really interesting, too. I’ve already sort of dipped my toe in it and it’s a whole other thing.

SRINIVASAN: One thing that’s really bracing about the book is that it’s filled with creepy, shitty, abusive men. Not all of them, you do have good men in your life. But you have this extraordinarily intimate knowledge of male shittiness, of patriarchal sexuality and masculinity. The book ends with an essay on giving birth to a son. What does the project of raising a male child look like to you?

RATAJKOWSKI: When you said “good men in your life”, and you write about this as well, I think there just aren’t good and bad men. Yes, it’s not all men, and at the same time, it’s all men. In the same way that women are existing in the world that we exist in, there’s moments where any man can, always with ignorance, but whether knowingly or not, take advantage of the power dynamics that we so often ignore. My son, babies, have this genderless quality to them, and so I love affording that to him right now. I’ve just been treating him as this wonderful little human who’s being introduced to the world. Actually, I noticed that as soon as people know that he’s a boy, the way that they interact with him is different than they would have with a baby girl. Sometimes I feel frustrated by that because I think there’s even a tendency to throw a little boy in the air, be a little bit rougher with them than you would a little girl. That stuff already bothers me because I can see where it’s leading. I don’t have the answers, but the second that I knew I was having a son it came to mind. The best I can do is teach him compassion, and about these power dynamics that men don’t have to inspect in the way that women do, and make him aware of them and make him care about them. How’s that going to happen? I’m not entirely sure. I also think that this culture that I’m writing about in the book, is very bad for men. There are books about how bad it is for men. I see it in my life, the ways that it limits men, and how depressing their existence and their lives can be when they have to adopt this toxic masculinity. So I also feel incredibly protective of him in the same way I would with a daughter, from this culture.

SRINIVASAN: So many of the men you described in the book have a profoundly desperate quality to them. So while they might be exercising a huge amount of power, usually decision-making power backed by money, there’s also clear anxiety about their own masculinity, their place in the world, their desirability. They feel female desirability as this profound threat to their supposed mastery. And I totally agree with you, I think feminism that isn’t interested in the complexities of the distorting effects of patriarchy on the male psyche is not really feminism worth having. I want to recommend a book to you, which is usually the book I give to my friends when they get pregnant. It’s Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born.

RATAJKOWSKI: I know Adrienne Rich but I haven’t read that book.

SRINIVASAN: It’s my favorite of her books. She was the mother of two sons and it’s pretty much a meditation on that question, but in a profound and poetic way. It ends with this extraordinary image of what it means to set your son down on the shore of a river and cross that river and leave him there having the confidence that he’ll be able to follow. And how that possibility really is the most politically emancipatory thing we basically need to do: allow men to learn how to accept both that they have been radically dependent on women, but also to grow up.

RATAJKOWSKI: I’m crying because it’s so difficult and scary and sad to watch. Actually, one of the early reviews somebody wrote about the book was that these men had jealousy, there was a sort of jealousy of power, a threat of the validation I could give them or that a beautiful young woman could give them. I feel like that is the source of that, and it’s something bell hooks writes about so well. I thought the book you were going to recommend is Men, Masculinity, and the Will to Change. That book is wonderful in being compassionate towards men but I do think that so many of these things that I’ve experienced have come out of real fear and a need to prove something. I do feel incredibly empathetic towards that and am aware of it.

Source : interviewmagazine.com

Emily Ratajkowski Audience Q & A at Live Talks Los Angeles

Emily Ratajkowski Debuts the Cutest Puppy Alive on The Tonight Show

Exclusive: 5 Minutes With Emily Ratajkowski

Bazaar sits down with former cover star Emily Ratajkowski to chat beauty, body image and being the face of Paco Rabanne’s new XS fragrance.

Who is the Paco Rabanne woman in your eyes?
A really timeless, powerful woman who is super smart and capable of being in any situation, but also doesn’t take anything too seriously.

What attracted you to work with the brand?
Paco Rabanne is a brand that hasn’t lost their identity. They still have a legacy that they’ve implemented into this modern, cool-girl aesthetic that I love.

How would you describe the fragrance in one word?

What is one of your most memorable scents?
I would say, my skin after I’ve spent the day in salt water in the beach. I love the way my skin smells after that.

Three beauty products you can’t live without?
Retinol Supernova Serum from Joanna Vargas, Marc Jacobs lipstick in a grey/nude colour, and an eyebrow brush by Maybelline. Or sometimes I just use hairspray and brush them up.

Who is your beauty muse?
I love Penelope Cruz and I think she just has a really great signature beauty look that I admire.

One of your favourite red carpet beauty looks that you’ve worn?
There was a look a couple years ago at the Diamond Ball where I have a short hair wig and an old vintage Chanel dress and black eyeliner, I loved it.

What is one piece of beauty advice that you would give your 16 year-old self?
Don’t let your face get in the sun too much.

What is something that you admire about beauty trends from the Middle East, or just beauty in general?
I’m a huge fan of the cat eye and I see so many beautiful women in the Middle East have this amazing gift with eyeliner – it’s not easy make-up to do!

If you could’ve been behind any iconic or signature beauty look, whose would it have been?
Sophia Loren’s eyebrows.

The cheapest beauty product you’ve ever bought?
The cheapest is a product called Aquaphor – it’s like a drugstore Vaseline. It’s very simple, but you can use it for so many things. People put it on their tattoos, on their dry skin, and I put it on my lips. It’s about $3.

The most expensive beauty product you’ve ever splurged on?
I have a Tom Ford palette that I splurged on that’s so good. It’s a bronzer/highlighter palette and it’s amazing.

Source : harpersbazaararabia.com

Emily Ratajkowski Gets Radical

You know Emily Ratajkowski. You’ve seen her, first grinding her way through the Blurred Lines video, and since, in her thong on Instagram or bra-less at the Kavanaugh hearings—the latter about which, everyone had a comment to make. Somehow, the model-turned-actress has become the polarizing face of feminism in the fashion industry.

But when I sit down with the 27-year-old, her philosophy about politics seems pretty simple to me: all women should be able to do whatever the fuck they want, as long as it makes them happy.

For Ratajkowski, sometimes that means wearing no bra; other times, it means wearing sweatpants. The point is, for her, being radical is just about being Emily. Just don’t tell her to call her senator.

As an outspoken political voice for our generation, Ratajkowski doesn’t believe in subtle acts of defiance. She wants to work outside the system to quickly burn it down. And we’re more than ready to join her.

With a new movie out later this month, office sat down with the model to talk about everything from feminism to that famous arrest photo. Read our interview, below.

You have a new movie, Welcome Home, coming out next week. Do you want to tell me about it?
Yeah! It’s really my first lead role—it’s a thriller with Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. It’s about the idea of privacy and voyeurism in general, and it’s something I’m really proud of. I actually haven’t seen the movie in a minute, but at the very least, I know I feel good about my performance. That’s a really nice feeling, especially since you can’t control the rest of the film. The only thing you can hope for is that you like your performance in the end result.

Since this was your first real leading role, were you at all nervous?
Not really. I mean, I started acting before I was ever interested in modeling. Growing up, I was a total theater nerd—I just lived and breathed acting—and then like someone told my parents, ‘She should try modeling. It’s a good way to get her foot in the door.’ Of course, my mom was like, ‘Fuck no,’ but I eventually went to LA and got signed to an agency. Modeling just happened to take off first.

So, being a model was never your real goal.
No, it was never the goal. I come from a creative family, and I was going to UCLA for visual arts before I dropped out to do this. So, I guess the creative fulfillment that comes with acting takes away the pressure of the actual job, because, for me, it’s so enjoyable.

You said you think a lot about voyeurism. In some ways, its part of your own experience because so many people look at so many aspects of your life. I mean, you have Instagram and other social media, which allows you to curate what you want to let people in on—
I look at it a lot like a blog, you know? I’m not posting in real time, I’m not posting what I’m doing for dinner. Honestly, I don’t even like to post people that I’m close to, because why would I expose them to that? It just doesn’t seem fair. It’s one thing for it to be my job, but it’s another for them to be sucked into that crazy world of judgement. But that being said, I’ve really never had an issue with that—I mean, of course, there’s a lot of privacy you give up and I’m okay with that. Sometimes, it does feel like a little too much, but the important thing is that it gives me the opportunity to control how I let people in, and how much. I think of other models and actresses, even ten years ago, who only had journalists and paparazzi to tell the world who they are—they didn’t have a way to dictate their own narrative; they had no power in their own image. So, even though there’s a lot of shit that comes with social media, I’m pretty grateful to have it.

That’s a really interesting point. Especially someone like you, who is a model and actress—most of the time, the way you’re being presented to the world is through the eyes of another person, be it director, or photographer. So, social media allows you the chance to share yourself—whether it be through a bikini selfie or whatever—away from the male gaze.
Absolutely. To me, selfies are like, this weird little self-portrait where you’re gazing at yourself, which I think is really empowering. Obviously, I don’t think every selfie I post is a work of art, or some kind of political statement, but if you want me to get into it I will, because I do think there is something positive there. I mean, I get why everyone is like, ‘Oh this generation is full of narcissists,’ but listen, narcissism exists at every age and in every decade. Yes, now we have more tools than previous generations, and we’re all taking way more pictures, but does that make us any more self-obsessed? No. People have always been self-obsessed—that’s just human nature.

Right, and especially as women, where our bodies are constantly being objectified, politicized, subjugated, and we’re always being told how to walk, how to talk, how to stand… And you’re a model, so that takes those things to an even further extreme. So, taking control of how you’re presented, wearing whatever you want, posing however you want—I’m sure that can be incredibly powerful.
Totally. As a model, you’re literally a mannequin. And I’m not a typical model. I know people are always like, ‘What do you mean?’ but I’m 5’7”, I’m four inches shorter than every girl on set, I have big boobs—I always saw that I was different and was constantly being told to change, or be a certain way, and I just felt like, ‘Fuck that.’ So, with Instagram, it really gave me this opportunity to almost make like, a magazine, about myself, and that made me happy—not because I was self-obsessed, but because it was a way of controlling my own image when the rest of the time, it was controlled by everyone else.

Because of those things, Instagram has become such a platform for women and through that, for feminism. But I think it’s also opened up a space for women to criticize each other—like, if you take too many selfies you’re ‘doing feminism wrong.’
Exactly! And that’s just so wild and insane to me, because the whole idea of feminism is liberation and doing whatever the fuck you want. Which is so wild cause the whole idea of feminism is liberation and doing whatever the fuck you want. It happened with second wave feminism, when there was a complete shift over porn, and it’s essentially an extension of that same argument. Like, can you be a prostitute, or a sex worker, or take a bunch of selfies, and also a feminist? My answer is absolutely.

You can be a housewife and believe in equality, just like you can be super religious and still believe in a woman’s right to choose. My message is that simple. So, when women start policing what makes someone a feminist? That’s when I think we’ve really lost the plot. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be fighting against?
There’s really just no right and wrong to me—especially for young women. The rest of culture is always telling us what we should and shouldn’t do—not only what we should look like, but what we should do with our lives—and instead of having women support women and whatever their choices are, they’re putting each other down and giving them something else to worry about. We’re are all ingrained with these crazy misogynistic patriarchal tendencies, but if a woman still feels empowered, despite the negative influences in her life, we should never reject her. It’s like, yeah, I’m wearing a thong, and maybe that dates back to some fucked up anti-woman shit from the past, but now, I like wearing one and it makes me feel good. So, cool. We should celebrate that.

Do you remember when you first discovered feminism?
I was really young. My mom was an academic and she was always talking about feminism. But it didn’t really occur to me what it meant to be a woman until I was 15, which was way after I hit puberty and all the traditional physical signs of womanhood had occurred.

You were 15 when you realized what it meant to be a woman—what does that mean?
My instinct at 13, despite having all this amazing rhetoric around feminism, was to still feel guilty and ashamed about myself and my body. It didn’t have to do with being female—it was about me, personally, and thinking that the world’s reaction towards me had nothing to do with sexism or culture. So, it took a minute for it to click where I was like, ‘Oh shit. That’s what mom was talking about, and this is an example of it.’ It felt incredibly liberating to realize that these reactions I was getting weren’t because I was weird, or something was wrong with me, but that there’s something wrong with our culture.

Do you feel like your feminism has almost been tokenized? Everything written about you in the press always refers to you as a ‘feminist model.’
It’s funny because it’s just always who I’ve been. Any of my high school boyfriends would tell you that. Before it was every cool, before I was ever modeling, before it was part of my professional life, feminism was something I believed in. So, when I broke out in this music video, which was directed and shot by women, all of the sudden people were asking, ‘Oh what do you think about it?’ and I was like, ‘Actually, I have a lot of things to say.’ But then no one actually wanted to hear it. Men were saying things like, ‘We’re not here to talk to you about your feminist ideas—we’re here to talk about you getting naked,’ and women were telling me, ‘You don’t have a license to talk about that.’ Of course, I wasn’t so surprised by the men’s reaction—but I was really surprised by the women. It’s really only been in the last five years that it’s been a complete change in attitude where everyone wants to talk to me about feminism and is not surprised by it, even if they think that my perspective is controversial.

But why? What about your perspective is controversial?
I really don’t know. I’ve had people say to me, ‘How do you expect people to take you seriously?’ That’s the line I get a lot. Like, ‘If you want to be a serious actress, you need to stop dressing like you do.’ It’s something I’ve been dealing with forever. So now, I’m just over it. I’m just going to keep doing me.

I get it.
There’s a crazy amount of compensating that we do as women for almost everything. In the past, whenever I met boyfriend’s families—and their moms in particular—I would always dress a certain way and be so scared to offend them. It’s like, why am I even thinking about this? What’s going to offend them? It’s just my body. If I don’t want to wear a giant t-shirt because I don’t think it’s flattering on me, then I shouldn’t have to. And it’s not just our bodies. I know every woman can relate to this. No matter what it is, there’s always that moment in your life where you realize, ‘Oh shit. People really don’t want to hear me talk,’ and actually think they’re being nice by telling me to quiet down. It took me a really long time to learn that it was okay to keep talking, to dress how I wanted. I mean, I’m 27 years old and I’m still learning—I still find myself apologizing or blaming myself rather than this larger cultural problem.

Does that ever get discouraging, though?
Yeah. I mean, absolutely. There’s moments where I think, ‘Thi is really not working and I’m really tired of this.’ But then there are the other moments where you feel like you’re finally doing it right and people get it. It’s just a constant battle we can never stop fighting. You take hits, but you keep moving forward, no matter what.

Do you feel pressure when certain things happen to speak publicly about them? Like with the Kavanaugh hearings—I know you were really vocal and went to D.C. and protested. But when certain things happen do you feel almost like you have to say or do something, because people expect you to? Or like you have to be political?
That’s really one of the problems with social media in the political age. So many people are posting stuff because they feel like they have to, when they don’t even know the specifics of the matter. People read a headline and think, ‘Oh shit, three people posted about that thing,’ so now I have to. I’m really, really anti that. And I know people get mad when I say things like this, but I really believe that’s the problem with the left. There’s a lot of surface level political correctness and being aware, but not actually talking about large ideas and tangible change. That really bothers me.
So, yes, do I have moments where I’m like, ‘Is this something I should jump on?’ Of course. But then I think, ‘Wait, what is the idea behind this? What are we talking about? What’s the change we’re looking for and how we can make it happen? Or is this just a hot tagline that makes people feel like I’m an activist?’ In the end, I just can’t do it, even if it’s going to make people leave angry comments on my page, because it feels so inauthentic. That’s why I don’t really do a ton of charity stuff, other than Planned Parenthood. Trust me, I care about the environment and a ton of other things. But in my mind, the way we actually create change is by dedicating our voices, and our time, and our passion, to one important thing at a time—instead of giving just a little bit to everything.
That’s why people who post stuff like ‘Call your senator!’ bother me. I mean, of course, it’s important to call your senator with some things, but am I really supposed to talk to this white male and hope that that phone call is enough to change his mind? That’s not how things were done in the ‘60s. That’s not revolution. Yeah, sometimes you can call your fucking senator, but you can also vote him out. That’s like, with the Kavanaugh hearings, a bunch of right wing assholes were commenting all over the internet like, ‘Oh she found another photo-op.’ At first, I found it so offensive because it’s against everything I stand for. But then, I sat back and thought, ‘Well maybe that’s okay,’ because a lot of people ended up actually seeing that photo, and what else am I supposed to do on a visual platform? I put a statement underneath and said very clearly how I felt, and in my mind, I think that’s probably better than calling your senator.
We have to be able to have real conversations about these things, and without policing everyone’s language. We have to be able to speak constructively, and there have to be a lot of different voices. That’s why I continue to ride for my perspective on feminism, even though I don’t think it’s that wild, other people do, and that’s because I’m like, ‘Good. Fuck you all. We need to have a conversation about what this is—especially for young women.’

We’ve talked a lot about your perspective on feminism, but what actually is it? How do you do feminism?
I mean, it’s literally the power to choose. Whatever you want to wear, however you want to present yourself, whatever your profession wants to be—you should not be judged on how you use your body, or don’t use your body, as a woman. It should be completely separate.
I have all of these women who comment on my bikini photos saying, ‘But you’re playing into some male ideal!’ I’m just like, ‘Well, I don’t give a shit what men think.’ First of all, this is what my god given body is, and second, sorry, it’s fun, in the same way that any sex positive, body positive thing should be. Yeah, I have a bunch of guys who say that they’re jerking off to me, but that’s not my problem. If I was going to build my life based off of how men respond to me, that would be awful. But also, I understand the first step of how it appeals to men, and this ideal of beauty, and the over-sexualization of women, but what if that’s just what I look like—and if I’m having fun with it.

Like you said, you’re really specific about what you decide to talk about politically. So, what made it so important for you to protest Kavanaugh?
I was sure he was going to get confirmed either way, whether I showed up or not, but that wasn’t the point. I think in the era of #MeToo, it’s incredibly important to stand up and support other women, and show people that even if we can’t change things right away, we can keep showing up, keep being loud, and eventually, we’ll change everything.

Do you think that in a post #MeToo environment fashion has changed? What about your day-to-day interactions on social media?
No. I mean, in certain ways, yes. I was talking to another magazine the other day and they were like, ‘Isn’t it great that the new BMI and age limits at fashion shows have changed?’ But still, all of the biggest up and coming models are under 18 and do not have a healthy BMI. Just because people have said they’re going to be more diverse, or more careful, or whatever, doesn’t mean they’re actually implementing those changes. Honestly, I was really sad leaving Paris Fashion Week this season. The thing I’ve always loved about fashion is expressing myself and empowering myself, and choosing how I’m gonna be that day—that’s what makes fashion so cool. But being there, and seeing that so many of the clothes are not made for real women… I don’t know. I love fashion and I see it as art, and I appreciate it in that way—but it’s also like, where are the women? In all of the industries I’m involved in—Hollywood, fashion, whatever—they’re very aware of #MeToo, but I still don’t see women being brought into leadership positions. I’m not talking about just being hired—I’m talking about having actual power.
People forget—women haven’t even had the vote for a hundred years. And I get it, we’ve come up as millennials and we’ve seen this amazing growth—we live in a very different world than my mom grew up in. But that said, I think it’s really important to remember what a short amount of time this has happened in—this female revolution—and that we’re still very much in the middle of a battleground. That’s why it’s so important to show up, and get arrested, and get people’s attention.

Do you think that right now, that’s especially important?
Yes and no. It’s always important. But it does feel more important now because look who’s in power. When you go to D.C.—and I recommend everyone does—you realize that this is not a government for the people. It’s really important to be disenfranchised by the government and to be really angry instead of just gutted by that fact, and to find ways to change it. And instead of calling your senator or actively participating in our system, let’s talk about how we can change it completely. I know that sounds really insane to some, but people need to remember how our country was founded. They were a bunch of crazy rebels. After Trump was elected, I was the first person to feel like, ‘I should give up. What else can I do?’ I was so uncomfortable with the word activist, I was so uncomfortable with what it means to be political. But now I’m like, ‘Fuck it. Let’s burn this shit down. Let’s go for it.’

We were talking about the Kavanaugh hearings, and how everyone on the internet was saying you used it as a photo-op. But really, everything I read about that day was about the fact that you weren’t wearing a bra. It was crazy.
It was 90 degrees that day. I was so uncomfortably warm in jeans, everyone was in the hot sun feeling so hot—even that tank top even felt like I was wearing a lot. People were yelling at me to put on a bra, and I couldn’t understand it, because if that’s the only thing you see in this whole picture, then we have some issues we need to deal with beyond Kavanaugh being confirmed. Like, why is this the conversation that people are having? You can find a lot of really cool pictures of women in the ‘60s wearing all kinds of shit—bra, no bra—but who cares? They’re women. They’re saying something. Listen to them.

But does all the attention on the way you look make you feel like people aren’t listening?
It just makes me feel discouraged sometimes, and I start to feel like, ‘What’s the point?’ I get so sick of this fucking intense ridicule and people missing the point. So many people said, ‘Oh my god, you intentionally got arrested?’ But didn’t you never take a history class? Political action is intentionally getting arrested. It’s not for a photo-op—it’s an act of resistance.

What pushes you to keep doing it, then?
It feels right; it feels honest; it feels true to myself, as cheesy and cliché as that sounds. There’s a lot of things in my life that I don’t necessarily feel like are honest to who I am, and it’s actually a pleasure to engage in something that does, and feels more important than just my life or my career.

In your work, because you have to play different roles, do you feel like you do things that aren’t true to who you are?
I mean, the truth is, as an actor, you’re not the director, you’re not the editor—you’re not putting it together. You’re a piece in the puzzle. As women, I find in general, that that happens a lot—you’re the mannequin in someone else’s vision. That’s what I like about social media, and about having my own company.

I recently interviewed another actress, and we talked a lot about the same stuff. I asked her if she was angry, because she really sounded like she is. But you don’t. How is that possible?
I mean, I am angry—I think that anger is healthy. If you’re not more than a little angry, you should be. No matter who you are in this country.

Unless you’re a rich, white guy.
No, even then—a culture of sexism, racism, classism—that impacts everybody, even white males, and makes them all kinds of fucked up. So, I think everyone should be angry. That’s what I say about feminism in general, too—it’s bad for men, it’s bad for women, it’s bad for queer people. It’s bad for everybody. That’s why we have to keep working to change things. We have to ask ourselves, ‘How do we proceed? What can I do to make the world different?’ And hoonestly, even if that, for me, just means changing one girl’s mind, and having her feel just a little bit more okay with herself, that’s more than enough more for me. So, I think that hope, and inspiration, is what pushes me through anger and makes me want to never stop fighting.

Source : officemagazine.net

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