Emily Ratajkowski had been working relatively clandestinely on a number of essays. But when she suspected that one day maybe, just maybe, how they would see the light of day, she sought advice. “I turned to [authors] Ariel Levy, Stephanie Danler and Jen Silverman. I kind of thought, ‘Hey, I love your writing. Could you tell me if I’m terrible? ‘”The 30-year-old model who became an essayist tells Bustle. All three replied, letting Ratajkowski know that no, she was actually anything but terrible. “Stephanie had no idea who I was when I emailed her and said something like, ‘I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but if you’re wondering if you’re a writer, you are it.'”
Ratajkowski says Danler, the author of Sweet bitterShe said “what I needed to hear” to begin writing her first collection of essays in earnest. My body is not your traditional celebrity memoir. It’s definitely not a hero’s journey through the Hollywood system. Instead, it is brooding over the destructive power of the male gaze explored by the women who are affected by it.
However, at first Ratajkowski did not know that she was writing that. “I had to look closely and ask, ‘What am I saying overall?’ It became clear that every single essay relates to the female body, ‘”she explains, quoting The empathy tests, The billing, and How do you write an autobiographical novel? as their inspirations. “If not my body, it is my mother’s body, the body of a famous woman, or the body of a friend. All essays revolved around the politics of the female body. ”
While it’s a collection that should be required reading for everyone, Ratajkowski very much hopes it will reach teenage girls. “I want you to give yourself a break,” she says of the message she hopes to take from the book. “The pressure is so great. Even if you go to high school: what do you wear? Do you have sex with this boy? Don’t you? How do you present yourself in the world? ”Below, Ratajkowski thinks about writing from bed, The right to have sex, and the rough drafts that fill their Notes app.
When reading a spiritual guide too My body:
The right to have sex by Amia Srinivasan is definitely the best book I have read lately. It came out last month and it’s amazing and I think not unrelated to some of the ideas in My body. Just the idea that men would have that right to sex, or a right to women’s bodies. Instead of just dismissing it, she takes a closer look and asks, “Who has the right to have sex? When does it apply? How does it work? ”She is not afraid to question things that we have accepted as sacrosanct.
By writing rough drafts in your Notes app:
Sometimes when I’ve had a busy but quiet morning, sentences suddenly hit me. I can’t always get them down, but I just start writing in my note-taking app. Often times I would copy what I had written and paste it into a Word document – to be clear, not fully formed, real sentences – but it would be helpful because once you start writing an essay it can be really difficult this type of stream of consciousness as you are so in it with the words. While this kind of skeletal stream of consciousness [in the Notes app shows], “Oh, and that got me into it, and I think it’s kind of related.”
If you don’t want to feel like “a piece of shit” while writing:
I try to have a morning routine when I go to write, where I shower and feel reasonably decent so I can take whatever is coming and not feel like a piece of shit. To be clear, that means going back to bed – I like to write out of bed which my husband thinks is absolutely crazy – with a little makeup and something other than what I was sleeping on. It does the trick.
When you have the final deadline to finish the book:
So much of the book had been written before I even thought about writing a book. When it came time to have deadlines, it got harder for me because I didn’t have this free flow thing with no pressure. I was very nervous and those were the days when I found it really difficult to write because the pressure was so strong. I was also pregnant. I had this real growing baby deadline and I knew, “He’s going to be here, and I want this book to be as finished as it gets.”
This interview has been edited and shortened for the sake of clarity.