You don’t have to be a supermodel to relate to Emily Ratajkowski’s essay Buying Myself Back.
Social media. The internet. Modern technology. What is that famous line? With great power comes great responsibility. And despite the past tragedies of the human race, it remains crystal clear that we choose to ignore the responsibility of the bargain for power.
Have you ever Googled yourself? I have. I was told that people were sharing my writing on other platforms and I wanted to see for myself. See the appreciation for my work that just about every writer craves. Appreciation was not what I found. Violated was all I felt.
As a model, I have come to terms with my pictures being in the public eye. My portfolio is just one click away. What I had not accepted was photos and stories from my Instagram account reposted on various websites, where you are able to “access posts and stories from private accounts.” I was horrified. Even more so when I realized that it wasn’t because I was a model or a writer that this had happened. No, if you have over a thousand Instagram followers, I am sorry to tell you that your posts, the pictures from your birthday getaway, and forgotten reminders of old relationships, they’re all there.
They always say that once it’s on the internet, it can never truly be erased. I never thought I would be face to face with photos that I had deleted over a year ago.
What’s the worst part about this? There is nothing you can do about it. You can’t report it. In the eyes of the law, you gave away your rights to those photos the second you clicked post. Because you posted something within the safety of your private account, you no longer have a say in who gets to own, use, and see those photos.
Sadly, women are used to this sense of powerlessness. Women have never had the right to our own image. For as long as the human race has thrived on this planet, from the Bible to Trump’s “grab them by the…” (I won’t even entertain the misogyny by finishing that sentence), women have been the patriarchy’s puppet. We are told what to wear, how to wear it, when to wear it, how to do our hair, how to be a good girl—no matter what, through the discourses promoted by the media and the norms that govern society, we have never owned ourselves.
We are sexualized in public, in movies, in adverts, and books. We are sexualized, but we aren’t allowed to be sexual. We can’t possibly have agency.
Society owns us. No, correction: Men own us, or at least they own our image.
That is precisely why Buying Myself Back is so important. To a certain extent, all women are in the process of buying themselves back. Feminist discourse is being brought to the table. We are no longer sitting quietly and looking pretty.
Every woman at some point in her life has to make the decision to buy herself back. She has to take back parts of her soul that society took from her. She has to claim her body as her own. She needs to let her voice be heard.
That is exactly what Emily Ratajkowski did. She made the choice to publicly reclaim her image from people who had no right to take it. She has opened the door for us. She rammed that door open so that we could follow suit.
Emily, you are a damn warrior. We see you. We hear you and we stand with you.