Content Warning: This article has mentions of sexual harassment and body image
Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories in the world of women who have been sexualised from a young age due to the influences of power and patriarchal dynamics that are so ingrained in society. Hoping to spread awareness of these experiences, model Emily Ratajkowski has come forward with her own stories of being sexually harassed from a young age. These revelations come from her upcoming book, My Body, which is set to be released on October 19, 2021.
Ratajkowski recounts a time when she was in middle school and a teacher snapped her bra; in another account, when she was a teenager, a casting director told her she looked like she “gets f***ed.” It sparked an early knowledge in her head that these types of situations, often times perpetuated by older, powerful men, are commonplace in the world, even when she was underage and vulnerable.
She goes on to discuss how even her parents had always been hyper-aware of her perceived good looks, something a child shouldn’t have to consider in their day-to-day life. It placed a heavy value in Ratajkowski’s mind from a young age that physical beauty was essential, and it led her to become fixated on her own image.
“I tried to gauge where my parents thought I belonged in the world of beauties. It seemed important to them both, especially to my mother, that their daughter be perceived as beautiful,” she writes. “I was a child, but somehow already an expert in detecting male desire, even if I didn’t completely understand what to make of it.”
She even prayed that God would make her the “most beautiful,” and by the age of 12, her mother started commenting on how Ratajkowski started attracting predatory male attention.
“I’ll never forget the look on his face as you walked past him!” she wrote in her mother’s words. “He stopped dead in his tracks and his mouth fell open!”
She first shared this experience about herself in an Instagram post last year, where she was 14 years old in a bikini at the beach.
“I was forced to face some ugly truths about what I understood as important, what I thought love was, what I believed made me special, and to confront the reality of my relationship with my body,” Ratajkowski said.