Emily Ratajkowski: we need to stop oversexualising breasts

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Anna Brech
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Gone Girl star and vocal feminist Emily Ratajkowski believes society has it all wrong when it comes to our attitude towards breasts.

The 26-year-old is clearly confident in her own body, having found fame via her topless stint on the music video for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.

But, she argues, culture at large has a bit of catching up to do when it comes to ditching our repressed and puritanical mindset.

“It really bothers me that people are so offended by breasts,” the model-turned-actor says, in a new interview this week with Allure magazine, where she also poses topless (below).

“That’s when I realized how f**ked our culture is. When we see breasts, we don’t think of beauty and femininity. We think of vulgar, oversexualized images.”

Sexuality and self-expression is clearly a topic that resounds with Ratajkowski.

“To me, any expression that is empowered and is your own as a woman is feminist,” she says. 

“If a woman decides to dress sexy, it doesn’t mean she’s not a feminist. [We] should be doing things for ourselves. If that is the woman’s choice, and it makes her feel good, then that’s great. Good for her.” 

Activism is second nature to Ratajkowski, and she has a number of arrows in her bow when it comes to political causes.

She campaigned hard for US democrat candidate Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential race, and has carved out a profile as a pro-choice activist, throwing her weight behind Planned Parenthood – America’s biggest abortion provider.

And this advocacy sits quite happily beside Emily’s scantily-clad shots on Instagram, and her starring appearance in the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary swimsuit issue.

In fact, it’s a dichotomy that is central to her brand of feminism.

“I want girls to see that you can be whatever you want,” she says. “Be as specific as you want. You can like this thing and that thing, and you don’t have to feel like the world won’t understand you.”

This includes bearing one’s breasts – as Ratajkowski has chosen to do on multiple occasions - not to please men but to please herself. “I found my sexuality and my identity. I found empowerment through that,” she says.

In evidence of this attitude, and in a show of solidarity, Ratajkowski posed topless alongside Kim Kardashian West in March last year, amid a backlash to the reality TV star’s naked selfies:

Ultimately, Ratajkowski believes female sexuality is caveated in judgement.

“Our society tells women we can't be, say, sexy and confident and opinionated about politics,” Ratajkowski wrote in Glamour’s October issue last year.

“This would allow us too much power. Instead our society asks us to declare and defend our motivations, which makes us second-guess them, all while men do what they please without question."

As an example, she said: “Mick Jagger is 73, and he still sometimes wears his shirt open and gyrates onstage. We understand that this is a part of his performance and artistic brand. Meanwhile, when Madonna, who is 58 and a revolutionary in that same kind of artistic sexuality, wears a sheer dress to the Met Gala, critics call her 'a hot mess' who's ‘desperate.’”

“Isn't she just making one of her signature political statements about female sexuality (and, incidentally, about our ageist, sexist culture too)? In any case, they are both performers who undoubtedly like attention. So why does Madonna get flak for it while Jagger is celebrated?”

Hear, hear...

Photos: Rex Features


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.