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Jessica Rawden

Emily Ratajkowski Explains Why She’s All In On Bikini Posts Even After Her Uncomfortable Blurred Lines Experience

Robin Thicke and Emily Ratajkowski dance close in "Blurred Lines" music video

In the years since Emily Ratajkowski became a household name (though an often mispronounced one) thanks to her nude appearance in the 2013 music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the model and social media personality has really redefined her career. She has a notable podcast, a swimwear line, and a bestselling book called My Body. It was in the latter that Ratajkowski opened up about her negative experiences filming “Blurred Lines.” Now, she addressing why after that experience she’s still open to putting her body out there on social media… as long as it’s on her “own terms.”

What Happened With The “Blurred Lines” Music Video? 

In 2021, when My Body hit the shelves, the predominant narrative surrounding the book had to do with the model opening up about her experiences on the set of the Robin Thicke music video. This wasn’t the first time that “Blurred Lines” had been a major part of the cultural conversation. Not only had “Blurred Lines” been banned from YouTube compared to other popular music by Marvin Gaye and others, at one point Pharrell Williams even distanced himself from the song in an interview with GQ

While “Blurred Lines” had initially hired a female director and had been pitched to the women who got naked for the shoot as a safe set, in Ratajkowski’s book she had written about Robin Thicke putting his arms around her and cupping her body in a way that was neither what the set had promised nor made her feel in control of what was happening to her during filming. 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger’s hands cupping my bare breasts from behind. I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke. He smiled a goofy grin and stumbled backward, his eyes concealed behind his sunglasses. My head turned to the darkness beyond the set.

She noted she didn’t really “react” at the time when it happened and continued filming the music video, but years later she told the “Sway” podcast she doesn’t regret filming the video. 

No, I actually do remember what I was thinking, and very clearly, but I don’t regret doing the video. I actually don’t really regret anything. But what I was thinking is, I’m getting paid as this — I thought of myself as a mannequin. It was a joke that I would say to people, but that’s really how I had approached it.

Despite a bad moment with the singer while filming and generally feeling like a "mannequin" during that gig, she said she did get paid and there were moments of levity with the other women on the set. Though she's said in the past she is "frustrated" with how the "Blurred Lines" story came out

Why Emily Ratajkowski Still Puts Herself Out There On Social Media

For Ratajkowski, though she claimed she had been groped by Thicke while filming (which her director Diane Martel corroborated) and said the experience stuck with her, she’s also still willing to put herself out there on social media. She’s famous for fashion moments, including rocking the black bikini trend this summer and being an advocate of the sheer dress trend at an Oscars party, but one outlet asked her about why she chooses to put her body out there despite her past experiences. She said in Vogue:

All women are objectified and sexualized to some degree, I figured, so I might as well do it on my own terms. I thought that there was power in my ability to choose to do so.

Another interview, with the New York Times podcast “Sway,” has literally being published as “Emily Ratajkowski Isn’t Quite Ready To Quit Profiting Off The Male Gaze.”  In it she talked about the “pressure on young women” to be the agents of change in a system built by men -- how she's felt they have to think about what they wear and what power they have in a given situation. She said the reason she’s happy to put herself out there in a way she chooses to on her own, gives her power, or as she put it: 

I mean, at first, Instagram was that way for me. It was a way of controlling the images that were put out of me, and now I see young girls or women playing with OnlyFans. You know, every woman has to be afraid of revenge porn. And so you know, saying, like, ‘OK, no, I’m going to be the one who decides what images go out of my body.’ And I think that I have always liked to think of myself as somebody who’s very radical, burn the system down, and I do want that. But at the same time, I wouldn’t fault any woman for trying to navigate the system as it is and to succeed in it.

She later said she has a “problem” with young girls being told it’s their fault if they wear a shirt that shows cleavage. She said moments like that make her “feel defiant” and that contributes to her overall take on social media as well. 

I mean, I think that there’s so many — if it’s not Instagram, it’s something else, I think — that reinforce these beauty ideals and what a woman should be, time and time again. I do think that I have a problem with the way that we constantly ask young girls to adjust and not our culture. And that was my experience as a 13-year-old. It was like, don’t wear that tight shirt, because you’re showing your boobs, and that’s going to make everyone feel bad and uncomfortable. And actually, you’re not going to be safe and protected. And this is where I actually still do feel defiant. ... So that’s how I feel. And I feel the same way about girls and social media. I’m like, go get it, honey. If that’s what you want to do and the system that we live in, I’m not going to tell you not to.

In the past, she's compared herself to Megan Fox, and ultimately this branding – or a she put it in the podcast – her social media that is “appealing to the male gaze” has led her to unique opportunities. Emily Ratajkowski has been the face of her own swimwear line Inamorata since 2017, and she uses her Instagram to help show off the stuff she's creating. So, at the end of the day, there's a component of it being a business decision too. 

Ratajkowski has been putting herself out there since she began modeling at 19, and social media has seemingly been a convenient way to expand her brand. But clearly, she has a lot of complicated feelings about her work and society's expectations in general. 

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