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  • Salsabila Attaria, reporter

Model Emily Ratajkowski Speaks on Experience with Abuse in Modeling Industry

On Sept. 15, model and actress Emily Ratajkowski published a series of essays titled “Buying Myself Back: When does a model own her image?” to "The Cut." The essays focus on Ratajkowksik’s experience with objectification and abuse at the hands of men she has come across throughout her career.

“And I have learned that my image, my reflection, is not my own,” Ratajkowksi said.

This quote refers to multiple events where Ratajkowksi felt as if power over her image had been taken out of her hands.

First, when the model was sued for posting a picture of herself taken by paparazzi on Instagram. Later on, when the model had to pay thousands of dollars to buy back a painting of herself from an ex. And finally, when photographer Jonathan Leder published a book full of images that Ratajkowski had not consented to releasing in such a manner.

Ratajkowksi recounts the night of the photoshoot that took place with Leder in 2012 and describes being drunk and feeling insulted by Leder multiple times. Leder has been accused of sexually assaulting Ratajkowski during the shoot as well.

Despite the model’s many objections and attempts at halting the release of the book, Leder published without her consent, and the images had already reached the public. There had been no agreement between the two for said images to be released in a book like this. Ratajkowski describes her emotions as she watched galleries of the pictures, articles about the situation, and interviews with Leder unfold.

“I wondered what kind of damage this would do to my career as an actress. Everyone had told me to shy away from being ‘sexy’ in order to be taken seriously, and now an entire book containing hundreds of images of me, some of them the most compromising and sexual photos of me ever taken, was available for purchase,” Ratajkowski said.

Ratajkowksi’s essays reflect the events of the #MeToo movement, where women spoke out about abuse they experienced at the hands of powerful men, mainly in Hollywood and the modeling industry.

These essays have sparked conversations about the issues within the modeling industry. Older male photographers, artists, and paparazzi are taking advantage of young women to the point where they don’t feel as if they own their own bodies anymore.

The objectification and misogyny evident within the industry must continue to be exposed and combatted. Models and actresses speaking out in the way Ratajkowski has will be key in this. As more stories are shared, more women will speak out about their own experiences. Encouraging this transparency will be a step forward in the long journey that is creating a safe environment for women within the entertainment industry.

Many young girls look up to models and actresses such as Ratajkowski. Young women see the glamorous image the modeling presents, but few see through to the dark side that comes with working in the industry. Stories like Ratajkowki’s will not only serve as an encouragement to speak out, but as a warning to younger models and actresses as well.

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