cover image My Body

My Body

Emily Ratajkowski. Metropolitan, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-81786-0

Model and actress Ratajkowski debuts with an intimate and accomplished essay collection that tackles big questions about internalized misogyny, the male gaze, female empowerment, and the commodification of sexuality. She describes her “defensiveness and defiance” when questioned whether dancing naked in the 2013 music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was “anti-feminist,” and admits that her viewpoint on being a “so-called sex symbol” has changed in the ensuing years. Ratajkowski calls out men who have simultaneously taken advantage of and dismissed her, including Thicke, who grabbed her breasts without permission during the filming of the music video, and photographer Jonathan Leder, whom she accuses of sexually violating her during a photo shoot and then releasing a book of explicit images without her approval. Throughout, Ratajkowski reflects on her craving for men’s validation “even when it came wrapped in disrespect,” and examines the limits of succeeding “as a thing to be looked at.” She also recounts an early sexual experience that she later realized qualified as stalking and rape, and documents her struggles to deal with her mother’s serious health problems. Enriched by Ratajkowski’s insider perspective on the modeling industry and her willingness to wrestle with the power of the male gaze rather than outright rejecting it, this is an astute and rewarding mix of the personal and the political. (Nov.)