On Saturday, Jan. 4 model Emily Ratajkowski posted a throwback bikini photo of her 14-year-old self. In the caption, she reminisced about how self-conscious she was at the age, and included a special message for teen girls who are still discovering their sense of self that she wished someone had shared with her at that age.
“I used to like showing people this photo of me at 14 to prove that my body is natural,” she wrote. “Now I’m a little sad it exists at all. I was just a kid in this picture and I wish the world had encouraged my 14-year-old self to be more than just my body.” Instead, she's sending that advice to teens now.
Not to say that the body can't be empowering, because it can. “All of that said, I do still feel like I’ve been empowered through my body and my sexuality via modeling and platforms like Instagram,” Ratajkowski continued. “Luckily I have discovered the parts of me that are so much more important than ‘sexiness,’ but if you’re a 14-year-old girl reading this, don’t worry about any of that for now.”
She went on to encourage them to educate themselves and to know that Instagram is in fact, not comparable to reality. “Read lots of books and know that what you see on Instagram is just a very small fraction of complete and beautifully complex human beings," she wrote.
It has become the 28-year-old's longtime mission to prove that women can be serious and sexual. After feeling ashamed of her body as a young girl, per People, she's come "full-circle" and is empowered by it and all the women around her.
"The ideal feminist world shouldn’t be one where women suppress their human instincts for attention and desire," she wrote in a 2016 essay for Glamour. "We shouldn’t be weighed down with the responsibility of explaining our every move. We shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting attention either. We don’t owe anyone an explanation. It’s not our responsibility to change the way we are seen — it’s society’s responsibility to change the way it sees us."