Emily Ratajkowski has solidified herself as a feminist voice in the modeling industry, and her latest shoot is no exception.
For Harper’s Bazaar‘s September issue, the 28-year-old penned a powerful essay about femininity alongside stunning photos that showed her armpit hair. In the essay, titled “Emily Ratajkowski Explores What It Means to Be Hyper Feminine,” the model and actress delves into society’s treatment of femininity through a personal lens. “As a fully grown woman, I continue to be shocked by how, in 2019, we look down so much on women who like to play with what it means to be sexy,” she writes.
Ratajkowski has certainly seen a lot of this throughout her career. In the essay, she notes that when she was arrested while protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, people chose to focus on the clothes she was wearing rather than what she was fighting for. “In their minds, the fact that my body was at all visible had somehow discredited me and my political action. But why?” she writes. “I often think about this. Why, as a culture, do we insist on separating smart and serious from sexy?”
She later describes how growing out her armpit hair has been empowering. “If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me. For me, body hair is another opportunity for women to exercise their ability to choose — a choice based on how they want to feel and their associations with having or not having body hair,” she says.
“I’m definitely not saying that every woman needs to connect with their inner Thotiana,” she continues. “I’m just making the point that women can and should be able to wear or represent themselves however they want, whether it’s in a burka or a string bikini.”
“Ultimately, the identity and sexuality of an individual is up to them and no one else.”
Feminism, she concludes, is about freedom of choice and giving women the space to present themselves however they see fit. And for Ratajkowski, growing out her body hair makes her feel sexy. “I’m positive that most of my early adventures investigating what it meant to be a girl were heavily influenced by misogynistic culture,” she admits. “Hell, I’m also positive that many of the ways I continue to be ‘sexy’ are heavily influenced by misogyny. But it feels good to me, and it’s my damn choice, right? Isn’t that what feminism is about—choice?”