Model Emily Ratajkowski has opened up about her tough experiences with paparazzi and how a photographer allegedly sexually assaulted her before sharing her photos.
The 29-year-old spoke openly in a powerful essay, detailing how she was being sued by a photographer for sharing their image on Instagram, and getting used to seeing ‘large men appearing suddenly… with glassy black holes where their faces should be’ when photographers took pictures of her on the street.
She recalled a night in 2012 when she met a photographer named Jonathan Leder in the Catskills. Ratajkowski’s agent instructed her that they’d shoot in Woodstock and that she could then spend the night at Leder’s house.
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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.
Writing in The Cut, Ratajkowski described ‘feeling watched’ as Leder picked her up from the bus stop, and when they got to his house he laid out ‘old-fashioned lingerie’ for her to wear for the photoshoot.
The model explained:
My agent hadn’t mentioned that the shoot would be lingerie, but I wasn’t concerned; I’d done countless lingerie shoots before.
Leder is said to have shown Ratajkowski Polaroids of a naked woman, and she described becoming ‘competitive’ and wanting to show the photographer she was the ‘sexiest and smartest’ of the women he’d taken pictures of. After taking a few shots of her in lingerie, Leder reportedly told Ratajkowski they’d then try naked shots.
Ratajkowski said she typically felt confident while naked, though when she took off her clothes she felt ‘disassociated’. She had been drinking throughout the night, and after taking a series of pictures she said the next thing she remembered was ‘being in the dark’, under a blanket with the photographer.
The model alleged that she remembers ‘his fingers suddenly being inside of [her]’, and that it ‘really, really hurt’. She pulled his hand away and he left to go upstairs.
In the morning, Ratajkowski found Leder had shared one of her pictures to Instagram, and they later appeared in the magazine the shoot had been for. A few years later, she received a call from a well-known magazine asking if they could help promote her new book of photographs – a release she knew nothing about.
Ratajkowski googled her name and saw Emily Ratajkowski the book, priced at $80 and containing some of ‘the most revealing and vulgar Polaroids’ Leder had taken.
When she agreed to the photoshoot in 2012, Ratajkowski had consented only for the photos to be printed in the magazine they were intended for. Her lawyer sent cease-and-desist letters and argued Leder had no right to use the images beyond their agreed-upon usage.
Her lawyer was told Leder had ‘supplied a copy of the release’ signed by Ratajkowski’s former agent, but the agent was ‘sure she hadn’t signed it’.
Speaking out about the book only drew more attention to Leder, and over the years he released a second book of her images, then a third.
In her essay, Ratajkowski wrote:
I could try to force him to cease production of his books; I could tangle him up in a legal fight that drains us both, but I’m not convinced that spending any more of my resources on Jonathan would be money well spent.
Eventually, Jonathan will run out of “unseen” crusty Polaroids, but I will remain as the real Emily; the Emily who owns the high-art Emily, and the one who wrote this essay, too. She will continue to carve out control where she can find it.
When contacted by The Cut, Leder denied Ratajkowski’s allegations, telling the publication that they were ‘too tawdry and childish to respond to’.
You do know who we are talking about right? 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?
Leder has apparently multiple editions of the book, through his company Imperial Publishing, as well as sharing ‘unseen’ Polaroids of Ratajkowski on Instagram. He told the MailOnline he was ‘totally within his legal rights’ to publish them, though Leder has since made his Instagram account private.
Ratajkowski said that she previously attempted to push the experience out of her mind and ‘never told anyone about what happened.’
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays.
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