The model and new mom gets candid about gender and sexualization
Model Emily Ratajkowski is opening up about the mixed emotions she felt when she first learned she was pregnant with a baby boy. Emrata welcomed a son last year, but the new mama says finding out her baby’s sex was an unexpectedly emotional journey — and probably not for the reason you think.
“I wanted a daughter initially, but when I found out I was having a son, I was so relieved,” she said in an interview with Elle. “Because I think that it would bring up… being sexualized way before puberty and being aware of it,” the model explained. Ratajkowski has spoken candidly in the past about how sexualized she felt as a child and teenager, and how she felt like her self-worth came from her looks and her body.
“I have a memory: I did a sexy move down the wall of my parents’ kitchen. I was probably in first grade and my parents were like, ‘Where did you learn that?’ I was like, ‘I fricking learned it. That’s what women do,’” she said. It’s undeniable that many young girls absorb similar messages — from movies, TV, social media — no matter how much parents may try to protect them from it.
Last year, Ratajkowski shared a bikini-clad photo of herself at 14, discussing how much differently she viewed that picture now as an adult woman.
“I used to like showing people this photo of me at 14 to prove that my body is natural. Now I’m a little sad it exists at all. I was just a kid in this picture and I wish the world had encouraged my 14-year-old self to be more than just my body,” she wrote.
“All of that said, I do still feel like I’ve been empowered through my body and my sexuality via modeling and platforms like Instagram. Luckily I have discovered the parts of me that are so much more important than ‘sexiness’, but if you’re a 14-year-old girl reading this, don’t worry about any of that for now. Read lots of books and know that what you see on Instagram is just a very small fraction of complete and beautifully complex human beings.”
Having a son may feel like a reprieve from all that for Ratajkowski — but she also noted that she does plan to have more children in the future, so she might someday have a daughter and confront those issues anyway. Given her own experiences with being sexualized and overcoming the shame it made her feel, however, may make her perfectly placed to help a future daughter navigate those same kinds of feelings.