Tuesday 23 July 2019

Caitlin McBride: Sorry Emily Ratajkowski, most people aren't offended by breasts - they're just offended by you

Emily Ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski
US actress and model Emily Ratajkowski poses as she arrives on May 17, 2017 for the screening of the film 'Ismael's Ghosts' (Les Fantomes d'Ismael) during the opening ceremony of the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. / AFP PHOTO / Alberto PIZZOLIALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images
Emily Ratajkowski is refused catwalk modelling work because her chest is too big
Emily Ratajkowski (Aurore Marechal/PA)
Model Emily Ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski has said she does not see why she cannot be both a sex symbol and a feminist
Emily Ratajkowski
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Don’t shoot the messenger. Unless that messenger is wearing a bikini, in which case, burn at the figurative social media stake.

Emily Ratajkowski, self-described feminist, actress, swimsuit model and music video star wants to break down perceptions of the F-word and reclaiming ownership of the female form, one nude Instagram photo at a time.

Earlier this week, in a cover story for Harper’s Bazaar Australia magazine, the 26-year-old said she struggles to get parts because of her cleavage, which is a rather infuriating comment for any big breasted woman.

Ratajkowski has been acutely aware of her body from a young age – as an overdeveloped girl who got her first period at the age of 10 and was affectionately referred to as a “baby woman” by her “father.

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"And that's what I was: a 12-year-old with D-cup breasts who still woke up in the night and asked her mom to come and sleep in her room,” she wrote in a Lenny letter last year.

She paints a picture of an adolescence obsessed with her appearance: a vice principal snapping her bra in front of her class, a family friend urging her to keep a “low profile” because of her appearance, her dress and her ability to keep up with the adults in the room.

Like Jessica Biel and Charlize Theron before her, Emily laments the lack of job offers because of her physical appearance, the one and only time being beautiful was a bad thing in Hollywood.

But the truth is, she’s just not that good of an actress. If you’ve seen her blink and you’ll miss it turn in 2014’s Gone Girl, she didn’t exactly set the screen on fire and was a barely palpable presence in comparison to the female lead Rosamund Pike, who rightfully earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role.

Emily’s brand of feminism is one that is based entirely on the superficial: their body, their weight, their breasts, their hair.

Feminism doesn’t just mean equality among the sexes; it means doing whatever the hell you want because you can. If that means stripping down naked or dressing like a nun, that’s your choice and the right to behave in a matter acceptable to yourself is a right we all should have.

“There's this thing that happens to me: 'Oh, she's too sexy.' It's like an anti-woman thing, people don't want to work with me because my boobs are too big’,” she says.

But it’s insulting to blame your breasts as an explanation to why your career hasn’t furthered.

Come try working in media, or tech, or business, or medicine or law and see what it takes to get ahead.

Emily talks about her boobs more than anyone else – strategically placed poses fill her Instagram feed, she went topless in Gone Girl, she went topless in the Blurred Lines music video and she has mentioned them in nearly every interview I’ve seen her partake in. 

She adds: “What's wrong with boobs? They're a beautiful, feminine thing that needs to be celebrated. Like, who cares? They are great big, they are great small. Why should that be an issue?"

Given the amount of times she’s spoken about, it seems the only person this is still an issue with is Emily. So, she retaliates and does what she believes is true to her convictions: she fights to empower female sexuality by posting a nude selfie, what has become the modern day equivalent of bra burning.

Emily Ratajkowski and Kim Kardashian teamed up for this topless selfie to 'empower women'
Emily Ratajkowski and Kim Kardashian teamed up for this topless selfie to 'empower women'

It tells the world that men, or other women, can’t control how you view, display or treat your body.

Autonomy doesn’t just apply to your health, but also your happiness – and if stripping down at every opportunity makes you happy, then why not?

If I had a body like Emily’s, I would walk around half naked every single day. Not because of my feminist ideals, but because I had a damn good body and I’d want the world to know.

“I have no problem with the backlash because I feel it illustrates my point over and over."

This quote is an oxymoron based on the simple fact that if she had no problem with the backlash, then why is she talking about it for what feels like the 6,745th time this year?

My issue with her form of feminism is that it relies solely on appearances: I am grateful to live in a modern world where I don’t have to quit my job after I marry, where I can obtain further education and one where I’m seen as an equal, not the lesser half in a relationship; to think the crux of feminism is revolved around breasts is just superficial and devalues the journey thus far. 

There was more to the women’s liberation movement in the ‘70s than burning your bra: it provided a gathering of like-minded, kick-ass women who wanted to blow the doors right off the patriarchy and it was an opportunity for  progressive discussion - all while wearing whatever the hell they wanted.

Last year, Emily posted a topless photo with Kim Kardashian giving the finger, which unsurprisingly, went viral. It was to counteract the criticism Kardashian received after posting a nude selfie earlier in the week, namely at the hands of professional controversialist Piers Morgan, a man who literally wrote the book(s) on self promotion.

She asks: "To me, ‘sexy’ is a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female. Why does the implication have to be that sex is a thing men get to take from women and women give up?"

Unfortunately, our society still has issues with female sexuality: we see women on screen as perceived by male directors, we get bikini waxes based on standards set by the porn industry; we adhere to increasingly conservative dress codes around the world lest we tempt an innocent man into losing control of himself by gazing at our bare shoulders.

What Emily doesn’t understand is – there’s a difference between the scrutiny on sexuality and the reason she isn’t making it as an actress and it has nothing to do with her breasts.

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