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Emily Ratajkowski is daring to go (not) bare in the new issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The model, actor and activist debuted a new photospread with the magazine this week, posing in a black lace bralette and Chanel pants while showing off her armpit hair. Releasing a candid essay in the magazine, Ratajkowski discusses what gender and feminism mean to her.

Ratajkowski opens the essay by acknowledging her own identity and privilege as a cis white woman, but says that a recent comment by a friend who labelled the actor as “hyper femme” threw her off, inspiring her to further delve into what she says was an “oversimplification” of her identity. “In my day-to-day life, I was not aware of being femme or masc or anything but just me,” Ratajkowski writes.

The actor shares that she feels most powerful when she’s feeling herself, which can happen when she’s in a mini skirt or when she’s wearing an oversized hoodie. “If I had chosen not to wear that tank without a bra, that would have been okay too. If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me. For me, body hair is another opportunity for women to exercise their ability to choose—a choice based on how they want to feel and their associations with having or not having body hair.” And sometimes, body hair just feels good. “On any given day, I tend to like to shave, but sometimes letting my body hair grow out is what makes me feel sexy,” the model says.


Ratajkowski says that her desire to be feminine started young, writing, “I remember being 13, maybe even 12, and having a distinct desire to try on lacy bras and thick gooey lip gloss. It felt fun and exciting. Sure, I’m positive that most of my early adventures investigating what it meant to be a girl were heavily influenced by misogynistic culture. Hell, I’m also positive that many of the ways I continue to be ‘sexy’ are heavily influenced by misogyny. But it feels good to me, and it’s my damn choice, right? Isn’t that what feminism is about—choice?”

“Despite the countless experiences I’ve had in which I was made to feel extremely ashamed and, at times, even gross for playing with sexiness, it felt good to play with my feminine side then, and it still does now,” Ratajkowski continues. “I like feeling sexy in the way that makes me, personally, feel sexy. Period.”

In the deeply personal new essay, Ratajkowski also talks about her 2018 arrest in D.C. where the actor, along with her I Feel Pretty co-star Amy Schumer, were detained while protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Fighting against the notion that women can’t be sexy and taken seriously at the same time, Ratajkowski says she was upset that “…the headlines were not about what I was protesting but instead about what kind of shirt I was wearing. Even women from the left, who fully supported the purpose of my protest, made comments about my missing bra underneath my white tank and jeans. In their minds, the fact that my body was at all visible had somehow discredited me and my political action.”


Touching on the learned fear that women who embrace their sexuality are threatening, Ratajkowski fights back at the shaming of women and the notion that “…a woman loses something when she flaunts or embraces her sexuality.”

Ratajkowski concludes with the message that what a woman wears has no bearing on whether they’re a good or bad feminist. “Give women the opportunity to be whatever they want and as multifaceted as they can be. Preconceptions be damned.” Well said.