Model Emily Ratajkowski arrives at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin—FilmMagic/Getty Images
By Megan Lasher
May 20, 2016

Model Emily Ratajkowski made waves earlier this year when she and Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie together. Now, she’s speaking out about what it really means to be a sexualized woman in the public lens.

“It’s an interesting paradox. If you’re a sexy actress, it’s hard to get serious roles. You get offered the same thing they’ve seen you in,” she told ES Magazine for their May 20 cover story. “People are like sheep and they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s what she does well.’ What’s so dumb is that women are 50% of the population and they want to spend money to see movies where they’re portrayed as three-dimensional characters.”

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Ratajkowski says being pigeon-holed into the “sexy” stereotype means people critique her for speaking out about world issues like the U.S. election or gender inequality. “The truth of the matter is no one wants to hear me talk about this stuff. Definitely the men who are casting films don’t want to hear it, but I just can’t not—I’m angry. It’s important to me.”

That’s why she found it important to stand up for Kim Kardashian this March when Piers Morgan attacked the reality star’s nude selfie.”[He was] talking about the fact Kim is 34 and a mother and that we’re over seeing her in a sexual light, which I had a lot of problems with,” Ratajkowski told ES. “There are lots of [criticisms] I can understand one might have about the Kardashians and reality TV, but even someone who you might be critical of is allowed to post a naked selfie if she wants to.”

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After tweeting “Her body, her career” in defense of Kardashian, Ratajkowski said, “Kim was kind enough to send me flowers. Then we decided to do a selfie with our tops off, flipping off the camera, which I think speaks for itself.”

Read more: ‘Free the Nipple’ Thinks It’s ‘Absurd’ Kim and Emily Had to Censor Their Breasts

Ratajkowski says people started commenting on her appearance when she was 11. “I started to realize that I was being perceived differently,” she said. “Basically it was more about the way that people had a problem with a girl looking like a woman because it confused them, it made them feel uncomfortable and I think there was a lot of guilt that they wanted to induce.”

Now, Ratajkowski says she’s growing more comfortable in commenting on feminist issues. “Every woman, whether or not they’re comfortable with the term ‘feminist,’ probably wants to be equal to men and that is fundamentally what feminism is about. I think that there is a stigma attached to the word, but to me it means talking about the way we look at women and how we judge women differently than how we judge men; also it is about paid maternity leave, equal pay for women.”

She cites advice from her mother as a reason why she continues in her career as a model: “She always told me never to feel sorry or apologetic or embarrassed by my body, to never apologize for my sexuality.”

Read the full interview at Standard.co.uk.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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