"My Body offers a lucid examination of the mirrors in which its author has seen herself, and her indoctrination into the cult of beauty as defined by powerful men. In its more transcendent passages . . . the author steps beyond the reach of any 'Pygmalion' and becomes a more dangerous kind of beautiful. She becomes a kind of god in her own right: an artist."
—Melissa Febos, The New York Times Book Review
"A smart and glittering collection of essays . . . It’s thrilling to sit with Ratajkowski in the roiling surf of her life, in elegant stories written with uncomfortable honesty. It’s revelatory, too, to explore digital life and body politics through the eyes of a person whose body shapes a discourse, and unexpectedly moving to see the bruises left behind."
"[My Body] challenges an either-or fallacy of womanhood: that Ratajkowski can’t have both a body and a brain, can’t be both appealing and incisive, can’t have both a brand and a book . . . Most of the essays oscillate between pride and disenchantment with Ratajkowski's own beauty, especially as a means of making money and attaining a restricted kind of social capital."
—The Washington Post
"No stranger to discourse and scrutiny over women’s bodies, Emily Ratajkowski brings nuanced insight to questions about empowerment versus commodification of women’s bodies and sexuality. Blending cultural criticism and personal stories, My Body is smart and powerful."
"Raises thought-provoking questions . . . By unpacking the paradoxes of capitalising on the male gaze in the Instagram era, Ratajkowski offers a fresh perspective on an age-old problem."
"In 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 . . . If Ratajkowski is complicit in being looked at, the crime is ours for looking."
—Andrea Long Chu, The New York Times Magazine
"Thoughtful and accessible . . . The anecdotes in My Body dramatise what is always true, if often implicit: that women can neither fully escape nor fully inhabit bodies that men are bent on appropriating."
—Becca Rothfeld, The Guardian
"My Body chart[s] a sinuous path through coming-of-age stories and meditations on capitalism and power, female friendship, and finally motherhood. Ratajkowski writes with an incisive vulnerability that can give way to images of striking beauty."
—Larissa Pham, The Nation
"A fascinating work: insightful, maddening, frank . . . So astute on the subject of how her body is interpreted . . . Ratajkowski is a graceful and thoughtful writer."
"My Body is a memoir, but it’s also a slow, complicated indictment of a profession and the people who propel it. Ratajkowski doesn’t so much direct blame at any one person or organization as paint a personal picture of what it was like for her to be young, naive, ambitious, and smart—and to feel reduced, far too often, to a collection of body parts."
"Exacting . . . prescient . . . It’s good business for models to be aware of how they appear, but few have interrogated the political implications of their body for them and for those who consume it in the form of a book . . . [My Body] is a descent into complication."
"Soul-searching, revealing, and personal . . . A fascinating memoir of objectification and misogyny [and] a searing work of cultural criticism about sexuality, power, fame, and consumption, My Body is the brilliant debut of a fearless multihyphenate from whom we're eager to hear more."
"Scalpel-scarp . . . Ratajkowski’s raw book of essays will change the way you see the supermodel. And, just maybe, yourself."
"An unflinching look at the commodification of female sexuality—and one woman's fight back."
"Nuanced, perceptive, and brave as hell . . . A worthwhile read that proves the author is here to stay."
"A provocative curve ball, with absorbing essays on beauty and consent."
—The Chicago Tribune
"A set of complex, ambivalent, sometimes funny, very sharp, and also cold and dark meditations on representation and sex, embodiment, and capitalism . . . A very finely honed and controlled literary object."
—Amia Srinivasan, author of The Right to Sex, Interview magazine
"I devoured My Body, a book describing an adolescence so contrary to my own . . . Ratajkowski's honesty is refreshing . . . A wonderful collection of essays, and not just because a model wrote a book."
—Sarah Hagi, Gawker
"Relentlessly brave . . . so important . . . The conversation [about women and commodification and sexual violence] is so heavily nuanced. And we, as a country, usually shy away from nuance. My Body should be required reading."
—Lisa Taddeo, ELLE
"Make no mistake, My Body is excellent . . . Ratajkowski writes with curiosity, intellect, and an acute awareness, even celebration of, the thorny, messy web of contradictions that make up our relationship with female bodies."
"Deeply honest and upsettingly familiar . . . My Body is no "gotcha" of a memoir—it's a measured, introspective study of a woman who, like many, has been perceived as an object for as long as she can remember . . . It's also a gift to anyone who's spent hours analyzing their reflection in the mirror or allowed their preconceived notions of someone else affect their own self-esteem. Jealous girls, this one's for you."
"Fascinating . . . There are no neat resolutions in My Body, but rather Ratajkowski weighing up where exploiting her image has got her and confessing—with striking vulnerability—the agony and ecstasy of being idolized."
"Ratajkowski’s clean, clear writing . . . wrestles with what it means to be conventionally attractive, both the good and bad . . . There’s hope in the positive thoughts about how strong her body can be, how much it can do, how it’s a beautiful tool. But it’s a tool nonetheless."
"Anyone who says they aren’t at least curious about Emrata’s memoir is lying."
"Compulsively readable, digestible, and genuinely page-turning . . . A must-read."
"Ratajkowski’s My Body has the urgency of a note slipped through the bars of a gilded cage. . . . The book is a reckoning with a success that has brought its author pain as much as pleasure. It is a critique of the ways we commodify the female body, written by a woman whose body is among the most lucratively commodified in the world."
"An intimate and accomplished essay collection that tackles big questions about internalized misogyny, the male gaze, female empowerment, and the commodification of sexuality . . . Enriched by Ratajkowski’s insider perspective on the modeling industry and her willingness to wrestle with the power of the male gaze rather than outright rejecting it, this is an astute and rewarding mix of the personal and the political."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Nuanced . . . engaging . . . a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale . . . The charm of this book lies in [Ratajkowski's] relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult . . . a refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics."
"Thought-provoking . . . Ratajkowski doesn’t shy away from situations or thoughts that might paint her in a negative light and it’s this raw honesty that helps to create a self-portrait of Ratajkowski as a whole, flawed person—something that she has perhaps never been fully seen as before . . . In My Body, Ratajkowski seems to have found a power that is finally all her own."
—Sydney Morning Herald
“These powerful essays mark a blazing, unexpected literary debut. Emily Ratajkowski interrogates beauty, sex, power, objectification, fame, and betrayal, by both self and others, with lucidity and scorched-earth honesty. I read these pages, breathless with recognition and the thrill of reading a new voice telling it like it is.”
—Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
"Forget what you know about Emily Ratajkowski. In My Body, she investigates the double bind of sexuality and power with a skillful eye for nuance and a noteworthy fearlessness. These essays don’t cut corners—we are all implicated in this web of misogyny and objectification, even Ratajkowski herself. For all the ways in which Ratajkowski’s life is extraordinary, or the way in which these stories will shock readers, My Body thrives on moments when her experience as a woman—with its triumphs and missteps—is resoundingly universal."
—Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
"Emily Ratajkowski’s first essay collection needs to be read by everyone. She explores body politics—and the politics of her body—through a uniquely feminist lens in stories that are both page turning and moving as hell."
—Amy Schumer, author of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
"Reading My Body is to accompany an extraordinary individual and activist, one who is deeply passionate and thoughtful, as she navigates the joys and pains of life in a digital era. Our experiences may be different, but Emily Ratajkowski’s presentation of diverse perspectives forges a path towards understanding."
—Tamika D. Mallory, co-founder, Until Freedom
"In prose that is by turns honey smooth and vicious, uproarious and wounded, Emily Ratajkowski has captured the complicated terrain of having a body people want to sell while having her own agenda she refuses to give up. She knows the pain that lives in every woman and she isn’t afraid to link arms and say she’s been there, and that it hurts. This is the book for all women trying to place their bodies on the map of consumption versus control, and all who want to better understand their impulses. It left me much changed."
—Lena Dunham, author of Not That Kind of Girl
Model and actress Ratajkowski debuts with an intimate and accomplished essay collection that tackles big questions about internalized misogyny, the male gaze, female empowerment, and the commodification of sexuality. She describes her “defensiveness and defiance” when questioned whether dancing naked in the 2013 music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was “anti-feminist,” and admits that her viewpoint on being a “so-called sex symbol” has changed in the ensuing years. Ratajkowski calls out men who have simultaneously taken advantage of and dismissed her, including Thicke, who grabbed her breasts without permission during the filming of the music video, and photographer Jonathan Leder, whom she accuses of sexually violating her during a photo shoot and then releasing a book of explicit images without her approval. Throughout, Ratajkowski reflects on her craving for men’s validation “even when it came wrapped in disrespect,” and examines the limits of succeeding “as a thing to be looked at.” She also recounts an early sexual experience that she later realized qualified as stalking and rape, and documents her struggles to deal with her mother’s serious health problems. Enriched by Ratajkowski’s insider perspective on the modeling industry and her willingness to wrestle with the power of the male gaze rather than outright rejecting it, this is an astute and rewarding mix of the personal and the political. (Nov.)
In 2020, model/actress Ratajkowski published an essay in The Cut about buying herself back—and this collection is her continued effort to demonstrate her ownership of her body—a process that, for a woman made in and of tabloid culture, comes at great personal and political cost. Her story highlights the experiences of people whose bodies are perceived as female, in patriarchal structures: groping, harassment, objectification. In this debut, she shares her thoughts on pop culture and her place within it. In doing so, she discusses womanhood and motherhood—stepping out of her mother's shadow and attempt to discover the true version of herself. With candor, Ratajkowski also delves into her life as a model, and what it says about her that she makes a living off of her appearance—and beauty. For the author, this is a struggle she attempts to reconcile throughout, coming to no easy answers. Her writing is in the form of essays and occasional letters directed to people who were significant in her life at one point in time. VERDICT Ratajkowski does more than deliver an indictment against celebrity culture: she provides a vocabulary that anyone can access in order to identify and articulate their experiences of sexism —Emily Bowles, Lawrence Univ., WI
The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.
Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.
A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.