Wednesday 20 September 2017

Emily Ratajkowski says people won’t work with her because of her big breasts - is there such a thing as too sexy?

Emily Ratajkowski is refused catwalk modelling work because her chest is too big
Emily Ratajkowski is refused catwalk modelling work because her chest is too big
Emily Ratajkowski attends the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images For US Weekly)
Emily Ratajkowski on holidays. Picture: Instagram
Emily Ratajkowski leaves from The Mark Hotel for the 2017 'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between' Met Gala on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for The Mark Hotel)
Emily Ratajkowski shared this sultry photo on Instagram
Emily Ratajkowski

Meadhbh McGrath

It seems like everything Emily Ratajkowski does becomes a headline. And, based on those headlines, it seems like all the 26-year-old model does is take her top off and complain about people who complain about her taking her top off. Still with me?

Earlier this month, the American beauty, who shot to fame in the provocative video for Robin Thicke's ribald 2013 hit 'Blurred Lines' and later as Ben Affleck's mistress in Gone Girl, addressed the backlash to her frequently topless photoshoots and selfies: "There's this thing that happens to me: 'Oh, she's too sexy'," she told Harper's Bazaar. "It's like an anti-woman thing, that people don't want to work with me because my boobs are too big. What's wrong with boobs? They're a beautiful feminine thing that need to be celebrated. Like, who cares? They are great big, they are great small. Why should that be an issue?"

The news that Ratajkowski's big boobs aren't seen as an asset at work may come as a surprise, given she's a Victoria's Secret model, the face of DKNY's intimates campaign and frequently on the cover of international fashion magazines. But she wasn't finished - in a new interview, in this month's Allure, she continued: "It really bothers me that people are so offended by breasts. That's when I realised how f***ed our culture is. When we see breasts, we don't think of beauty and femininity. We think of vulgar, oversexualised images."

A nice problem to have, some might say, but does Ratajkowski have a point? Is there such a thing as being too sexy?

Emily Ratajkowski shared this sultry photo on Instagram
Emily Ratajkowski shared this sultry photo on Instagram

She's not the first model to face this particular challenge. Bar Refaeli, a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model, has also said she doesn't do catwalk modelling because she's "more of a sexy type of model", and even had a bikini ad banned in her native Israel for featuring too many close-up shots of her bum.

On Britain's Next Top Model, Kildare model Alannah Beirne was criticised for being "too sexy" as she draped herself over a giant disco ball during a shoot, an exchange that left her weeping into her purple glitter eyeshadow. "Remember you're selling to girls, so it's like you want your best friend to buy this - not a hot guy," the photographer instructed.

It was a strange, and telling, insight. Ratajkowski is right that women with curves are seen as vulgar and associated with hyper-sexuality, their bodies charged with suggestive eroticism - think of Marilyn Monroe, famously "too sexy" for high-fashion work or even for child audiences. Contemporary fashion isn't interested in curves, looking sexy or appealing to men. Think of the cast of a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show compared to the cast of a Céline or Balenciaga show: there's almost no overlap - it's a different type of look, a different type of brand, and a different type of customer.

It's a long time since Derek Zoolander discovered there was more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking. The most popular high-fashion models today are defined not by their sexy pout or big boobs, but by their distinctive and, in some cases, 'ugly', looks.

Such unusual-looking models used to be the exception to the rule. Recall the large, wide-set eyes and 'alien' look of Gemma Ward, Lily Cole and Jessica Stam, offering a jarring contrast in a parade of glamazons. Today, traditional beauties like Lara Stone and Gisele 'boobs from Brazil' Bundchen are in the minority, displaced by odd-looking women with striking, insect-like features.

Quirky models have become the norm, but what started as a desire for difference has developed into a seemingly uniform assembly of 'unique' women, and the unorthodox model has become something of a cliché. The outrageously, distractingly pretty Ratajkowski, with her magnificent breasts, looks out of place on a catwalk now.

It all feeds into the wider body image debate that has raged on since the days of 'heroin chic' in the 1990s, because despite all the criticism from within and outside the industry, the top labels still design almost exclusively for thin-hipped, flat-chested women with child-like bodies because apparently clothes look better on them.

While being "too sexy" is one thing, having large breasts or a big bum or thick thighs shouldn't disqualify you from enjoying fashion. But if even Emily Ratajkowski feels unwelcome in the world of high fashion, there isn't much hope for the rest of us.

Emily Ratajkowski attends the
Emily Ratajkowski attends the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images For US Weekly)
Wide-eyed: Emily Ratajkowski in the Julien Macdonald gown that plunged beyond her navel
Wide-eyed: Emily Ratajkowski in the Julien Macdonald gown that plunged beyond her navel
Emily Ratajkowski attends H&M Loves Coachella Tent during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for H&M)
Emily Ratajkowski attends H&M Loves Coachella Tent during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for H&M)

Irish Independent

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