Is It Time For Women To Redefine ‘Sexy’ On Their Own Terms? This Model Thinks So

18 February 2016, 14:42 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Emily Ratajkowki Blurred Lines Video
Katie Louise-Smith

By Katie Louise-Smith

Emily Ratajkowski takes to Lena Dunham's Lenny letter to explain.

Remember the 'Blurred Lines' video? Ha! Of course you do, how could any of us ever forget Robin Thicke's problematic contribution to the music industry?! Well, Emily Ratajkowski, one of the dancers in said video has taken to Lena Dunham's feminist newsletter to discuss her views and experiences with body shaming. TL;DR, she's had a rough go of it, she's sick of it and she thinks it's time for women to redefine 'sexy' on their own terms.


A photo posted by Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) onDec 11, 2015 at 7:45am PST


Emily begins the essay, entitled Baby Woman, by painting a picture of her early childhood, detailing how she became self conscious about developing her sexuality after her family continually warned her to cover up. It's an honest, glaring essay about problems young girls are continually facing.

When I was 13, a close family member came to see my performance in a play. I remember feeling pretty — tanned, wearing lip gloss and a red button-up ribbed top over my bra and a mod-style zip-up miniskirt from Forever 21. 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.

Emily Ratajkowski, Lenny Letter

She recounts numerous experiences like the one above, all of which stemmed from one thing: the concern over how men would react.  

I get ready for my day as one of my many roles in life — student, model, actress, friend, girlfriend, daughter, businesswoman. I look at my reflection and meet my own eyes. I hear the voices reminding me not to send the wrong message.

Emily Ratajkowski, Lenny Letter

She goes on to write about how society views the word ‘sexy’, when actually, there is no definition of ‘sexy’ - only what the male gaze has determined it to be. Her essay rightfully points out that sexy should be a "kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female." It’s at this point she calls for a space where women can be sexual when they choose to be. Women should be able to wear what they want, when they want, and for who they want. And at no point what so ever should a woman be subject to scrutiny and/or shamed for expressing her own sexuality.

I wish the world had made it clear to me that people's reactions to my sexuality were not my problems, they were theirs.

Emily Ratajkowski, Lenny Letter

She explains that she struggles to find a space where she can have ownership and enjoyment of her gender, particularly after the onslaught of criticism that arrived on her doorstep after her appearance in the 'Blurred Lines' video. But perhaps the most glaring point about this whole essay came after Emily announced the release of her Lenny Letter by posting a nude Instagram picture. As reported by the Independent, Maxim magazine managed to hit Emily's entire 'male gaze' nail on the head in one fell swoop. And now we're sitting here rolling our eyes.

Honoring our sexuality as women is a messy, messy business, but if we don't try, what do we become?

Emily Ratajkowski, Lenny Letter

Claim it back, Emily! CLAIM. IT. We're with you.