The publisher of a controversial book of nude Emily Ratajkowski photos has released a questionable statement defending why they should continue to sell it. Spoiler alert: they shouldn’t.
Ratajkowski, an actress, model, and businesswoman spoke out against the book, which features intimate shots of her taken by photographer Jonathan Leder in 2012. She was 21 years old at the time.
In a viral essay for New York Magazine, Ratajkowski spoke about her ongoing distress that the book was still for sale, and raised important questions over who has the right to their own image.
“I’ve become more familiar with seeing myself through the paparazzi’s lenses than I am with looking at myself in the mirror,” she writes. “And I have learned that my image, my reflection, is not my own.”
While the publisher, and Leder, assert they’ve got “every legal right” to publish the book, there’s a stark difference between what is legal, and what is right.
If Ratajkowski’s allegation is to be believed, the photographs contained in this book were taken on a night that she was sexually assaulted by Leder. It truly doesn’t take a genius to see why that is really morally wrong. Not only does Ratajkowski have to live with the fact that naked photos of her from nearly a decade ago are still being circulated against her will, she also has the constant reminder that her alleged abuser is profiting from a night that has left her traumatised.
This is the first time Ratajkowski has made a sexual assault allegation against Leder, but she’s been fighting for her right not to have the nude photos sold since at least 2016.
This book and the images within them are a violation.
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) November 30, 2016
Throughout the essay, she accused Leder of sexually assaulting her during the photoshoot in 2012 (which makes the book even more questionable) and of making vile and derogatory comments.
“You do know who we are talking about right?” Leder told New York Magazine’s fact checker, which was included in the essay. “This is the girl that was naked in Treats! magazine, and bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video at that time. You really want someone to believe she was a victim?”
But the horrific slut-shaming comments and blatant victim blaming doesn’t stop there.
“And I can tell you that Emily Ratajkowski … was one of the most comfortable models I had ever worked with in terms of her body. She was neither shy or self-conscious in any way. To say she enjoyed being naked is an understatement. I don’t know if it empowered her or she enjoyed the attention,” he told High Snobiety in a 2017 interview “revealing” the details of the photoshoot,
The comments are disgusting to say the least, especially considering she was barely old enough to buy a beer at the time the photos were taken.
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I’ve been working on a collection of essays for the past year and couldn’t be more thrilled that @nymag has published “Buying Myself Back”. This is an extremely personal piece about image, power and consent. Thank you to the entire New York magazine team for this opportunity and all of their support. Link in my bio.
Despite Ratajkowski’s allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Leder, Imperial Publishing continues to sell three different editions of the photo book on their website, ranging from $75-$250USD.
But if selling the book that Ratajkowski has repeatedly called a violation of her privacy and bodily autonomy wasn’t enough, the publisher has also released a letter to her attorney, and a statement on the situation.
“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,” the statement reads.
“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.”
Imperial Publishing also asserts that they have “every legal right to publish [their] books of Ms Ratajkowski.”
But, legalities aside, you truly have to question what sort of person wants to spend their money purchasing a book filled with naked images of a woman who has repeatedly expressed her desire for those images to not be shared.
As Ratajkowski discusses in her essay, the laws around photography are questionable at best, and more often than not, it’s the subject who ends up suffering.
But this is so much more serious than just a couple of paparazzi photos being circulated without your consent. For Em Ratajkowski, these images are a visual reminder of the night she was allegedly sexually assaulted. Legally, she *should* be protected, but morally, the publisher shouldn’t even want to distribute them.
These photos have caused Ratajkowski so much distress that she’s been publicly speaking out about it for at least four years. That alone should be enough to show the publisher that it’s not okay to distribute them. Heck, there shouldn’t even be an audience of people *wanting* to buy these photos, knowing that she absolutely did not give consent for this book to be published.
The issue here isn’t even the fact that they have the legal right to publish these images, it’s the fact that they’re more concerned with profiting off Ratajkowski’s pain than doing what is morally right.
Sure, it’s legal. But it’s also disgusting.
“It is a shame, because the photos are really powerful and they are beloved by so many of her fans,” the publisher wrote.
To be clear, if you are purchasing these images of Emily Ratajkowski, knowing that she does not approve of the book, you are *not* her fan and you really need to consider what this says about you as a human.
You can read Ratajkowski’s full essay here.