It’s been almost three years since Emily Ratajkowski married Sebastian Bear-McClard. Now, their family is growing.
In a surprise (and virtual) Vogue cover, Emily has revealed that she is pregnant, debuting her baby bump alongside a thoughtful essay about gender.
Emily Ratajkowski is one of the most famous beauties of our time. She is also an activist and a feminist, speaking on the most important issues.
Soon, she will be a mother. As you can see in her photos, she is pregnant and putting her baby bump on display.
But as eye-catching as those photos are, her inspirational essay about children and gender is valuable all by itself.
In an essay on gender and power written in Vogue, Emily shares how the subject is on her mind frequently as she prepares to bring a new life into the world.
“When my husband and I tell friends that I’m pregnant,” she begins, “their first question after ‘Congratulations’ is almost always ‘Do you know what you want?'”
“We like to respond that we won’t know the gender until our child is 18 and that they’ll let us know then,” Emily jokes. Most children know their gender at very young ages.
“Everyone laughs at this,” Emily says of the joke. An age like 3 or 5 is more realistic to hear a child’s gender, just as to hear their favorite color.
“There is a truth to our line, though,” she adds.
Emily correctly continues: “one that hints at possibilities that are much more complex than whatever genitalia our child might be born with.”
“the truth that we ultimately have no idea who — rather than what — is growing inside my belly,” Emily writes.
She adds: “I like the idea of forcing as few gender stereotypes on my child as possible.”
That could start with simply not assigning pronouns or gender to a child since you can’t ask them yourself — not yet.
“But no matter how progressive I may hope to be,” Emily confesses, “I understand the desire to know the gender of our fetus.”
She admits: “it feels like the first real opportunity to glimpse who they might be.”
“As my body changes in bizarre and unfamiliar ways,” Emily reflects, “it’s comforting to obtain any information that might make what’s coming feel more real.”
Emily says that she realizes that she has always imagined having a daughter, and that her therapist tells her that this is “relatively common.”
“Psychology du jour, she says, touts the concept that people may have children to ‘redo’ their own childhood,” she explains.
“They want to fix themselves and their traumas,” Emily continues, “by trying again with a fresh start and a mini version of themselves.”
Emily spoke about concerns with her husband: “‘I do worry a girl will have a lot to live up to as your daughter,’ he replies. ‘That’s a lot of pressure.'”
“I wince and think of my own mother,” she says, “and her tales of being homecoming queen,”
Emily remarks about “the way I knew the word jealous at the age of three.”
“And,” Emily’s thoughtful essay continues, “the early understanding I had of how beauty could equate to power.”
“I prayed for beauty, pinching my nose tightly on either side before falling asleep, willing it to stay small,” she recalls from her childhood.
While in Emily’s case, it is clear that Aphrodite was listening to those prayers, no child should have to face those concerns or feel that pressure.
“I think of the other physically beautiful mothers I’ve known — the stage moms with their own mini-mes,” Emily notes.
She laments “the way their daughters, even as young girls, seem to know their own beauty.”
It pains her to see little girls feeling pressures and body issues “as if they have already lived entire lives in a grown woman’s body.”
She says that a lot of so-called parenting advice has to do with expectations about development and behavior seen through the lens of gender.
“I don’t necessarily fault anyone for these generalizations,” Emily writes.
“A lot of our life experiences are gendered,” she acknowledges, “and it would be dishonest to try to deny the reality of many of them.”
One cannot ignore gender any more than one can ignore race. You do not contradict the fight for gender equality by walking your friend to her car in the dark.
“But I don’t like that we force gender-based preconceptions onto people,” Emily correctly expresses, “let alone babies.”
“I want to be a parent who allows my child to show themself to me,” she notes.
“And yet I realize that while I may hope my child can determine their own place in the world,” Emily confesses.
She continues: “they will, no matter what, be faced with the undeniable constraints and constructions of gender.”
Emily laments that this will be the case “before they can speak or, hell, even be born.”
Gender is a social construct that has varied widely across time and across cultures. It is not synonymous with genetics or genitalia.
One doesn’t have to launch an absurd and often destructive gender reveal party to impose expectations and restrictions upon your child, of course.
You can’t protect your kid from the world — including gender roles and assumptions. But as Emily plans to do, you can at least not make yourself part of the problem.