Emily Ratajkowski Calls Nude Photos Published Without Her Permission a ‘Violation’

Kristine Solomon
Style and Beauty Writer
Yahoo Style
Emily Ratajkowski has finally spoken only about the 4-year-old images that were published without her consent. (Photo: Getty)
Emily Ratajkowski has finally spoken out about the four-year-old images published without her consent. (Photo: Getty Images)

Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski has long been a vocal advocate for body positivity and a woman’s right to own her sexuality, and now she’s speaking frankly on another topic about which she has strong convictions: consent.

Ratajkowski willingly took part in a photo shoot in 2012 with photographer Jonathan Leder at his home in Woodstock, N.Y., according to Page Six, and he published a series of pictures from the shoot as part of a limited-edition photo book in 2015. The 500 books sold out, at $40 apiece. Now Leder is set to release another, special collector’s edition photo book — this one twice the length of the original, says Hypebeast.

The problem is, Ratajkowski never gave the photographer her permission to release the photos. And now she’s speaking out about a woman’s right to express her sexuality on her own terms, not someone else’s. In a series of tweets unleashed on Wednesday, the star blasted Leder for crossing her personal boundaries.

“I’ve been resisting speaking publicly on the recently released photos by Jonathan Leder to avoid giving him publicity. But I’ve had enough,” the 25-year-old wrote. “This book and the images within them are a violation.” She goes on to say that she signed off on only five of the hundreds of Polaroids snapped by the photographer during photo shoot four years ago, which took place when she was still a relative unknown — before she broke through in singer Robin Thicke’s music video for “Blurred Lines” and went on to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and movies including Gone Girl.

Imperial, the book’s publisher, describes the photo book as “a rare glimpse at a natural-born star on the verge of exploding.” The publisher acknowledges that Ratajkowski “has since sparked feminist debate,” and says, “Here, she’s pure simmering sex appeal. It’s a wonder she didn’t burn the house down.” Ratajkowski is known for posting nude images of herself to her social media accounts, but she does so consciously. She says on Twitter that Leder’s and Imperial’s decision to publish the photos without her consent is “an example of exactly the opposite of what I stand for: women choosing when and how they want to share their sexuality and bodies.”

Ratajkowski has a very distinct point of view on women’s sexuality and the liberated way she chooses to express her own. In an essay called “Baby Woman” that she wrote for Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter, the model says, “To me, ‘sexy’ is a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female. Why does the implication have to be that sex is a thing men get to take from women and women give up?” She openly asks where girls and women can go to find empowerment in deciding how to express their sexuality, and writes, “Even if being sexualized by society’s gaze is demeaning, there must be a space where women can still be sexual when they choose to be.” The key word being choose.

In an interview conducted by writer Naomi Wolf for Harper’s Bazaar, Ratajkowski discusses her early-onset sexuality and recalls landing a modeling contract at age 14 while already looking like a fully developed woman. “I genuinely hit puberty before everyone. So I really was more sexual than my classmates. My teachers, my boyfriends, my parents’ friends didn’t understand how complex it all was,” she told her interviewer about having to confront her own sexuality earlier than her peers.

In the interview, she speaks openly about defending Kim Kardashian’s right to post a nude selfie on Instagram, which led to Ratajkowski’s joining forces in solidarity with the reality sensation to pose for a naked selfie with Kardashian in the aftermath of the criticism the star received. “The whole idea is that when Kim takes a nude selfie, she’s just seeking attention. That’s not the issue. A woman can be seeking attention and also make a statement. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive,” the actress says of a woman’s intention when she shares a nude photo of herself.

She continues: “There’s this idea that if a man enjoys a photograph of a nude woman or if he likes your short skirt, he’s taking something away from you. It’s not right. Sex is normal. Desire is normal. Attention is normal, and that’s OK.” The fact that Ratajkowski is so clear on what her sexuality means to her and how she wants to express it makes it all the more poignant that Leder would take something that the star “owns” and use it on his own terms, without consulting her or obtaining her permission. And that’s exactly what she’s trying to express in her recent Twitter rant.

But Ratajkowski seems to feel that expressing herself through a series of tweets is enough. As of press time, she hasn’t taken any legal recourse and has moved on with a tweet promoting her partnership with Audi. She’s moved on — but stands firm in her beliefs and isn’t afraid to express them openly to the world.

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