NEW YORK, NY – JULY 09: Emily Ratajkowski and her dog, Colombo are seen on July 09, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Forever the target of tabloid fodder, Emily Ratajkowski has had to defend her lack of dress one too many times, and usually does so under the guise of feminism. Many have pointed out that while the 28-year-old model has every right to exercise her freedom of choice – that in itself is a feminist act – but it does not then follow that the choice she makes is inherently feminist.

Perhaps once and for all though – but what are we saying? This debate will go on forever – Ratajkowski has penned a powerful essay to shut up her biggest critics. The model recalls a time in US Harpers Bazaar where she uncomfortable about her own femininity. “Two summers ago, while vacationing with my friend and her girlfriend, my friend made an offhand remark about me being ‘hyper femme,’” she said in a personal essay for the publication. “It kind of threw me because in many ways, probably like anyone would, I felt that her comment was an oversimplification of my identity. In my day-to-day life, I was not aware of being femme or masc or anything but just me. Her observation surprised me and made me feel suddenly self-conscious.”

To Ratajkowski, how she expresses herself is her just being herself. Her femininity isn’t something she controls, it’s who she is. “Despite the countless experiences I’ve had in which I was made to feel extremely ashamed and, at times, even gross for playing with sexiness, it felt good to play with my feminine side then, and it still does now. I like feeling sexy in the way that makes me, personally, feel sexy. Period.”

“If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me. For me, body hair is another opportunity for women to exercise their ability to choose — a choice based on how they want to feel and their associations with having or not having body hair.”

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