Model Emily Ratajkowski has announced her pregnancy with a personal essay exploring questions of her unborn child’s gender and identity.
The article, published online by Vogue on Monday, is accompanied by a short film directed by Lena Dunham. “I dreamed of you for the first time the other night,” Ratajkowski said in the video. “We are waiting for you, wondering who you will be.”
She elaborates on this curiosity in her essay, writing that when asked, “Do you know what you want?” she and her husband Sebastian Bear-McClard answer, “We won’t know the gender until our child is 18 and that they’ll let us know then.” The couple want to be “progressive,” she said (he, too, has insisted that he “doesn’t have a preference” regarding the baby’s gender, Ratajkowski added).
But tensions run through the essay, as she grapples with the world her child will be brought into – and the systems of race, gender and power they will invariably encounter. If the baby is a girl, she may experience the same “subconscious and internalized misogyny” that Ratajkowski still struggles against, the model wrote; if the baby is a boy, it raises the challenge of “teaching them about their position of power in the world” as a white man, she added.
Ratajkowski and Bear-McClard will have to face their own personal biases, too, she said. Ratajkowski wrote that she had never thought about having a son, and openly wonders if her husband is “secretly yearning for a boy.” She also recounted people sharing opinions and tips that revolve around stereotypical distinctions between girls and boys.
“I want to be a parent who allows my child to show themself to me,” she wrote. “And yet I realize that while I may hope my child can determine their own place in the world, they will, no matter what, be faced with the undeniable constraints and constructions of gender before they can speak or, hell, even be born.”
While reflecting on her child’s gender, Ratajkowski shared some of her own experiences as a young girl, revealing how she was always keenly aware of beauty and its relationship to power. This hyper-awareness shapes the way girls see themselves, in comparison to others, well into adulthood, she wrote.
The essay also touched on other aspects of her pregnancy – the “bizarre and unfamiliar ways” her body is changing; how it’s an “innately lonely” experience, despite support from loved ones; and, ultimately, a sense of “peace” and “wonder” as she waits for her baby to arrive.
“I want you to see the world’s potential. You feel like the world’s potential,” she said in the video. “I cannot wait to see who you will be.”
Ratajkowski has been an outspoken advocate for women’s health, sexual empowerment and feminist issues in recent years. She made headlines in 2018 when she was arrested for protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who faced several accusations of sexual assault – allegations that he has consistently denied. She posed with unshaven underarms for a 2019 Harper’s Bazaar