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The Sunday Read: ‘The Emily Ratajkowski You’ll Never See’

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 5 December 2021

⏱️ 37 minutes

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Summary

In her book, “My Body,” Emily Ratajkowski reflects on her fraught relationship with the huge number of photographs of her body that have come to define her life and career. Some essays recount the author’s hustle as a young model who often found herself in troubling situations with powerful men; another is written as a long, venomous reply to an email from a photographer who has bragged of discovering her. Throughout, Ratajkowski is hoping to set the record straight: She is neither victim nor stooge, neither a cynical collaborator in the male agenda, as her critics have argued, nor some pop-feminist empoweree, as she herself once supposed.

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0:00.0

Hi, my name is Andrea Longchew. I'm a writer and critic and a contributor to the New

0:12.6

York Times magazine. I'll be reading a profile of Emily Radikowski that I wrote for a recent

0:18.5

issue. Emily Radikowski is a famous model. She's an influencer on Instagram where she

0:26.1

has over 28 million followers. She has her own clothing line and now she is a writer. She has

0:34.0

published a collection of essays called My Body that is about her experience as a model, her

0:40.7

childhood, her rise to fame, and her complicated relationship to her body, her image, and the public.

0:50.0

There's a question that has followed Radikowski through most of her career, which goes something

0:58.4

like, well, how do you square the fact that you have a brain with the fact that men are consuming

1:03.5

your body through these images and making money off of you? And this question is not just condescending.

1:10.1

It's also, I think, the least interesting question to ask about this woman's career.

1:15.0

This was the first profile that I've ever written I have to admit. And before I started working on it,

1:23.0

I knew there was going to be this fundamental problem, which was that Emily Radikowski is attractive.

1:31.4

She says this in the book. She's famous for being attractive. How do you write about someone

1:35.9

who is famous for being looked out without falling into the trap of looking at her?

1:40.9

And I've written at length about my own body in the times and elsewhere. I famously have problems

1:48.4

with my own body, and I do think on my editor's part there is interest in knowing, well, what would

1:53.2

happen when you get these two people, me and Emily Radikowski and Arum together? We met for the first

2:00.6

time in September of this year. We got lunch together downtown. And what happened was there was

2:06.0

this instant kind of comfort. I think Radikowski felt like she recognized a kind of exhibitionism

2:12.7

in me that she also sees in herself. And we eventually settled into a pretty conspiratorial vibe.

2:21.6

Here's my article, the Emily Radikowski you'll never see.

2:24.7

I'm not going to tell you what the host has said to Emily Radikowski. Instead, I will tell you this.

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