The actress and model, 30, already made it clear she's "frustrated" by the leak of My Body, a collection of personal essays, which comes out on Nov. 9. In conversation for the New Yorker Festival Tuesday, Ratajkowski and her I Feel Pretty co-star Amy Schumer discussed body politics, including Ratajkowski's essay recalling allegedly being violated at the 2013 shoot — and the "complicated" feelings that go with it.
Ratajkowski said she was "disappointed" by the leak, via the U.K.'s Sunday Times, "because it's not that I spoke out about this situation because I wanted some kind of political feeling or consequences for this person. It’s just a part of an essay which really sort of demonstrates the awakening that I had. And the nuance and complicated relationship I have to power and commodification and my body and my image."
She called the Blurred Lines shoot the "perfect example of that because, as people will read in the essay, it was actually a really empowering experience in many ways. There was mostly a female crew on set, [a] female director, a director of photography I’d worked with before. [It] felt like this thing where all these women — who were around my age [and] creatives — were saying to me, 'Oh, you're a part of this. It's fun. Do you feel comfortable in your outfit?' When I was dancing, I felt like I was dancing for a bunch of girlfriends. So all of that remains true."
However, in her essay, she alleges that at the shoot — which saw her and two other near-naked models dance alongside Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. — Thicke came behind her "out of nowhere" and cupped "my bare breasts from behind." She said Thicke, who she described as "drunk" (and has a history of drug and alcohol abuse), "smiled a goofy grin and stumbled backward." Director Diane Martel asked Ratajkowski if she was OK and threatened to cancel the shoot. Martel corroborated Ratajkowski's account. Thicke hasn't commented publicly or responded to Yahoo Entertainment's request for comment.
"Some people have asked me why I didn’t stop the shoot," Ratajkowski said during the New Yorker Festival, "and it's something that I write about in the essay. If I had stopped that shoot, I think my big break might not have happened at all and I'm not sure that I would have even been able to publish the book that I'm publishing now. So it’s really a double-edged sword and it’s nuanced and I have a complicated relationship to it."
The Gone Girl actress also spoke about the "bunch of reasons" she "sort of put it out of my mind."
"It wasn't really a choice," she explained. "It just sort of went away. The memory was something that was there, but I just didn't choose to focus on it. Because I felt very defensive of my position in the world," as a newcomer in the entertainment space with aspirations beyond dancing with nearly no clothes next to a singer. "And I wanted to believe that the most powerful women in the world are the sexiest... I had kind of gained that power and success and I also felt protective of the women who had strived and tried so hard to make that video something that it ultimately couldn't be because of the world we live in."
In her book, Ratajkowski wrote that she didn't dwell on the incident until she realized that Thicke blocked her on Instagram. She wrote, "With that one gesture, [he] had reminded everyone on set that we women weren't actually in charge. I didn't have any real power as the naked girl dancing around in his music video. I was nothing more than the hired mannequin.”
Last year, Ratajkowski penned an essay for New York magazine titled "Buying Myself Back," in which she accused photographer Jonathan Leder of sexual assault after a 2012 photoshoot. It brought to the forefront the conversation about image ownership as Leder, who denied Ratajkowski's allegation, has gone on to publish multiple books using the photos of Ratajkowski from that shoot and has showed the photos at galleries.
That essay led to Ratajkowski's deal with Metropolitan Books for her debut book. My Body, including the leaked essay, looks at "what it means to be a woman and a commodity."