In a powerful essay for New York Magazine, Emily Ratajkowski writes abuses of power. She first writes about a lawsuit a paparazzo brought against her for using a photograph he took of her on social media.
She also writes about contemporary blue chip artist Richard Prince’s “Instagram Paintings,” in which he uses two images of hers. In an effort to reclaim her own image, she bought the paintings from Prince.
“When the piece arrived, I was annoyed,” she writes. “I’d seen online that other subjects of the Instagram paintings were being gifted ‘studies,’ the smaller drafts of the final works. My boyfriend asked the studio, and some months later, a 24-inch mounted black-and-white ‘study’ arrived. It was a different shot than the large piece we had purchased, but I still felt victorious.”
Ratajkowski also addresses a 4Chan leak that happened when she was 22, about seven years ago: “Pictures meant only for a person who loved me and with whom I’d felt safe—photos taken out of trust and intimacy—were now being manically shared and discussed on online forums and rated ‘hot’ or ‘not.’”
The worst incident she recounted though involved photographer Jonathan Leder. The model says he assaulted her in 2012 at his studio in Woodstock.
At that point, she was relatively unknown, and when she arrived at his home studio, she writes that she was surprised that she was supposed to model lingerie. “I’d been taught that it was important to earn a reputation as hardworking and easygoing,” she wrote. “‘You never know who they’ll be shooting with next!’ my agent would remind me.”
After being photographed in lingerie, Ratajkowski claims Leder said, “Let’s try naked now. The second I dropped my clothes, a part of me disassociated. I began to float outside of myself, watching as I climbed back onto the bed. I arched my back and pursed my lips, fixating on the idea of how I might look through his camera lens. Its flash was so bright and I’d had so much wine that giant black spots were expanding and floating in front of my eyes.”
Much later, she writes of the alleged assault: “Most of what came next was a blur except for the feeling. I don’t remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me. Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since. I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt. I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn’t say a word. He stood up abruptly and scurried silently into the darkness up the stairs.”
Later, she writes that photographs from the shoot appeared in a book, but she claims he didn’t have a right to the them. A rep for Imperial Publishing, which put the book out and represents him, told Page Six: “We are all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski’s latest (false) statements to NY Mag in her never-ending search for press and publicity. Of course Mr. Leder totally denies her outrageous allegations of being ‘assaulted.’ It is grotesque and sad that she is so vindictive to lie in such a way to the press routinely.”