The American model has alleged that singer Robin Thicke groped her bare breasts from behind while filming the music video to 2013’s Blurred Lines.
Emily Ratajkowski talks about her experience of filming the now-infamous video to the controversial R&B hit in her forthcoming book My Body, to be published later this month.
First reported in The Sunday Times, she says that the shoot had initially been an enjoyable experience.
Shot by an all-female team, both the rated and unrated versions of Blurred Lines star Ratajkowski alongside two other models, Elle Evans and Jessi M’Bengue. While Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. perform the track fully clothed, Ratajkowski, Evans and M’Bengue appear semi-naked in the unrated version, their breasts exposed as the men look on.
Blurred Lines has already been condemned by UK charity Rape Crisis for “reinforcing rape myths” and banned from over 20 British universities’ student unions for lyrics that “undermine and degrade women”. Pharrell has since admitted he is “embarrassed” by the lyrics and that it “caters” to sexist culture. Thicke, however, told the BBC in 2013 that such criticism is “ridiculous”.
Ratajkowski, now 30, says in her book that, while alone on the Los Angeles set, Thicke approached her from behind and groped her naked breasts.
“Suddenly, out of nowhere,” she writes, “I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger’s hands cupping my bare breasts from behind.
“I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke. He smiled a goofy grin and stumbled backward, his eyes concealed behind his sunglasses. My head turned to the darkness beyond the set. [The director, Diane Martel’s] voice cracked as she yelled out to me, “Are you okay?”
She writes that the incident made her feel “naked for the first time that day” but that she was “desperate to minimise” what had happened.
“I pushed my chin forward and shrugged,” she says, “avoiding eye contact, feeling the heat of humiliation pump through my body. I didn’t react — not really, not like I should have.”
While the director’s intent had originally been to subvert power dynamics and empower the women as they ignored the man who watch them, Ratajkowksi writes that any feelings of empowerment were destroyed that day.
“With that one gesture,” the mother-of-one says, “Robin Thicke had reminded everyone on set that we women weren’t actually in charge. I didn’t have any real power as the naked girl dancing around in his music video. I was nothing more than the hired mannequin.”
Director Diane Martel told The Times that, up until the point of the incident, “everything had been sweet and enjoyable” on set. Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. were the only men allowed on set, so the women were comfortable.
“I remember the moment that he grabbed her breasts,” she told the paper. “One in each hand. He was standing behind her as they were both in profile.
“I screamed […] “‘What the fuck are you doing, that’s it!! The shoot is over!!” However, after checking in with Ratajkowski, the model “was very professional and said we could go on” and the shoot continued.
Thicke “sheepishly apologised,” Martel said, “as if he knew it was wrong without understanding how it might have felt for Emily.”
Indicating that he had been drinking, the director added, “I don’t think he would have done had he been sober.”
Stylist has approached Thicke’s representatives for comment but his team have yet to respond.