Emily Ratajkowski fans were left confused this week when the supermodel posted a photo that looked straight out of one of those “before and after” weight loss ads - you know, the ones I’m pretty sure we all collectively agreed are no longer cool to do.
The photo was part of a photoshoot for M magazine, part of French publication Le Monde, and featured the supermodel, known as Emrata, wearing a pair of a plus-sized pair of jeans and holding out one side, showing off just how big they were.
It is easy to understand why fans were left not just confused but truly disappointed by the model’s choice to post the image on social media, particularly, as many of them highlighted, because Ratajkowski has often been outspoken about society’s pressure on women and their bodies.
In fact, the model published a collection of essays in 2021, titled My Body, in which she reflects on her own complex relationship with her body and with the fashion and beauty industries as a whole. In the book, which became a New York Times bestseller, Emrata writes rather candidly about her struggles with her own body image.
We are not talking about someone who doesn’t know the impact of the images she posts.
In a world where thin bodies are still the object of praise and the fashion industry still leaves plus-sized bodies out, it is sad to see someone who has previously spoken as an ally take what is, at best, a big misstep.
The message people are taking from the photo is that someone who would fit those jeans would take up a lot more space than the model - something highlighted by her stretched out arm holding the other side of the garment. By wearing a pair of jeans so massively oversized for her figure, Emrata is saying “look how thin I am”. The jeans in the photo are not a regular garment, they act as a prop in a photoshoot. But plus-sized clothing is not a prop and using it as such is not okay.
The photo is a stark example of how normalised thinspo still is and how even someone as aware of the pressure on women’s bodies as Emrata can sometimes fail to see it (I’m being generous here and assuming she has failed to see the issue).
Instagram users were quick to call out the hypocrisy in the photo. “Writing a book centred [on] body image and then doing the second photo is crazy,” one person wrote, referring to the model’s My Body book.
“What in the fat-phobic hell is this?” someone else posted.
One Instagram user called it “such godforsaken trash”. “In the year of our lord 2023?? STILL??? Yikes,” the person added.
“Designers won’t make plus sizes unless it’s for a photo opp where a thin person can be quirky,” another Instagram user said, pointing out the massive issue of lack of sizing inclusivity in fashion.
Numerous people described the image as “fat-phobic” and an example of “body shaming”.
Emrata might look great but the photo is definitely not cute. Society is harsh enough on plus-sized people without having thin people wearing clothes double their size as a costume. Ratajkowski is an objectively good-looking woman, with the privilege of thinness (and massively cashing in on that privilege). Highlighting her beauty and thinness does not ever need to come at the expense of mocking other people’s bodies.
The question many have been left with is “why”? Why did anyone think this photo was a good idea? Why did Emrata decide to post it?
At the time of writing, Emrata has not commented on the post, despite posting other photos, so we will see whether we ever get an answer.