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/ Source: TODAY
By Chrissy Callahan

Emily Ratajkowski proudly admits that she's always been a girly girl. But her critics haven't always seen her femininity in the most positive light.

In a new essay for Harper's Bazaar, the model and actress explores exactly what it means to be hyper feminine, and takes on the haters who've criticized her femininity over the years. She also shows off a totally different side of herself, baring her armpit hair in the photo shoot.

The 28-year-old begins by explaining how a gender studies class she took as a freshman at UCLA changed the way she viewed gender and femininity.

The actress shows off her armpit hair in the photo shoot.Michael Avedon / Harper's Bazaar

"At the time I considered myself a staunch feminist and had signed up for the class assuming that I’d learn a lot about women’s lib, feminist rhetoric, and so on. I was shocked by how little I understood about gender, and it made me start to examine my own identity as a woman,” she continued.

The model identifies as a cisgender woman, and admits that this has certainly influenced her experience in life so far.

“I’m well aware of the privilege I receive as someone who is heteronormative, and I don’t pretend to act like my identity hasn’t made some things easier for me. That being said, I want to take this opportunity to speak up about what my experience as a woman has been,” she wrote.

The actress has always loved being traditionally feminine, and argued that she shouldn't be taken less seriously for that.

“Sure, I’m positive that most of my early adventures investigating what it meant to be a girl were heavily influenced by misogynistic culture. Hell, I’m also positive that many of the ways I continue to be 'sexy' are heavily influenced by misogyny. But it feels good to me, and it’s my damn choice, right? Isn’t that what feminism is about—choice?...As a fully grown woman, I continue to be shocked by how, in 2019, we look down so much on women who like to play with what it means to be sexy," she wrote.

The 28-year-old joins a number of celebs and models defining beauty on their own terms.

Isn’t that what feminism is about—choice?

Ratajkowski also addressed critics who shamed her for not wearing a bra while protesting Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.

“When I was arrested in D.C. protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a man who has shown a gross amount of disrespect toward women in his life, the headlines were not about what I was protesting but instead about what kind of shirt I was wearing. Even women from the left, who fully supported the purpose of my protest, made comments about my missing bra underneath my white tank and jeans. In their minds, the fact that my body was at all visible had somehow discredited me and my political action. But why?"

A woman should have the choice to wear a bra or not, the model argues, and she should also have the right to decide how to handle her own body hair without judgment.

“If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me. For me, body hair is another opportunity for women to exercise their ability to choose—a choice based on how they want to feel and their associations with having or not having body hair. On any given day, I tend to like to shave, but sometimes letting my body hair grow out is what makes me feel sexy. And there is no right answer, no choice that makes me more or less of a feminist, or even a 'bad feminist,' to borrow from Roxane Gay….Ultimately, the identity and sexuality of an individual is up to them and no one else,” she wrote.

At the end of the day, Ratajkowski is a smart, talented, hardworking woman who also happens to enjoy expressing her feminine side: "I feel powerful when I’m feeling myself, and sometimes feeling myself means wearing a miniskirt. Sometimes it means wearing a giant hoodie and sweats. Sometimes I feel particularly strong and free when I don’t wear a bra under a tank top. That’s just me, in that moment."