When I step out onto the patio of Emily Ratajkowski's suite at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, the just-turned-27 model is already standing to greet me. We're here celebrating Ratajkowski's new campaign for the luxury haircare brand Kérastase (I'm one of two lucky interviews before the party this evening). Ratajkowski is draped in an oversize Prada suit—black over a pinstripe white button down so long that it grazes her mid-thigh—and chunky, white "dad" sneakers.
Her hair is thick and tousled, and smudgy makeup frames her deep-set brown eyes. As we shake hands, Ratajkowski's dapper appearance and relaxed energy remind me of some sort of cool, urbane gentleman. It's an unexpected contrast to the sultry, scantily clad star I'm used to seeing on Instagram and in provocative on-screen roles like Mallory in I Feel Pretty, Andie in Gone Girl, and, of course, her unforgettable (topless) turn in Robin Thicke's controversial 2013 music video for "Blurred Lines," the rocket fuel that launched Ratajkowski's career and reputation as a sex symbol.
As a public figure, Ratajkowski has always seemed to paint herself as the girl who you either want to be or be with. She's the girl who's maintained in interviews that she doesn't work out, watch what she eats, or wear makeup beyond a little Glossier Skin Tint. Yet there she is on Instagram with her ab crack and her pouty lips, making both men and women wonder in dizzy bewilderment whether or not she's even human.
But sitting on this patio on a soft red couch, one leg casually tucked underneath her, Ratajkowski almost seems more human than anyone else at this chic hotel. Striking to look at, yes, but also grounded and laid-back as we spend 20 minutes shooting the breeze about her growing up, learning to care for her body, acclimating to married life, curating her Instagram presence, and addressing myths the public tends to believe about who EmRata really is. Below, her end of our conversation.
On taking care of your body as you age:
“I talk about this all the time: I think when you’re 20, you feel like, why do people make such a fuss about self-care? What does it matter? And then, you know, I became a grown-up and realized, okay, you can’t just be exhausted all the time. It’s not even aging so much as it’s just maturity. I used to not wash my face before I would go to bed, which now is just so shocking to me. I don’t care how tired I am. I go wash my face. I use retinol cream—yeah, I’ve gone there. I love Shani Darden’s. I also love Joanna Vargas. I kind of alternate depending. Though, I don’t use it every night. I do it every two to three days depending on how my skin’s doing. And then there’s just not stuffing my face anymore. I used to be the type of person who’d get Mexican food and then an entire pizza and be like, oh whatever. But I wouldn’t feel good. It wasn’t even satisfying, you know? You’d be halfway through it thinking like, I just have to finish this. So I think portion control, as crazy-obvious as that sounds, has been a life changer for me."
On married life and FOMO:
“I also used to have serious FOMO. If something was going on, I needed to be there. I wouldn’t care how I felt. But I’ve just gotten to the point where basically I’ve given up on FOMO. I’m totally okay with being like, okay, tonight I’m gonna be by myself. I’m not going to that extra thing. [My husband’s] work is so much tied to doing stuff at night. And honestly for me, sometimes I like that. I’m like, you go do your thing. I’m gonna be here taking care of myself, and then tomorrow I will be a better wife because I’ll feel rested, you know? I’m also one of those people who, when I’m working, it’s just like go, go, go, go, go. I put my head down, focus on work, and then when it’s over, I have two days of just doing nothing, order food, and watch bad TV. I love Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I really do."
On low-maintenance haircare:
“What’s so funny about my hair is the truth of the matter is I’m all about a middle part and textured hair to a little past my shoulders. And I think I’ll be that way till it’s not cute anymore. Which, let’s hope that will last for a long time. I just don’t want to have to think about [my hair] every second of every day. I want to be able to know what works for me and not have to be like, God, what am I gonna do with my hair every day? and have a crisis. So for me, my day-to-day routine is just truly keeping my hair healthy because it does get so much heat and product in it all the time. And I don’t have super-thick hair. I have a lot of hair, but it’s super fine, so I really have to actually try to take care of it. I get regular haircuts. The Kérastase Elixir is really good for the ends. And then I alternate with their shampoos. Right now, I’m using more of the Aura Botanica. I wash pretty much every day because my hair gets oily, so I need to. And then not too much conditioner—just at the ends. And then I’ll blow-dry it or air-dry it. And you know, listen, I would love to curl it every day and do the whole thing, but that’s not realistic. But then, when I do an event, because I have people—and I’m so lucky to—who can throw on a fake bang and make it look legit, I really try to have fun with it. Because hair and beauty are like an extension of self-expression. So I want to play with it sometimes.”
On Instagram versus reality:
“What I always say to people is [my Instagram] is a curated version of a character. It’s not my real life. Hopefully, young people understand that. I really try to bring that home a little bit because it’s like, I’m basically making my own magazine so to speak. I’m curating this world. You’re definitely not seeing me when I woke up this morning with a fever, sweaty, with my mascara underneath my eyes. No, I’m not posting that. But that being said, like yesterday, I went to the Flower Market in L.A.—love the Flower Market—and I took a picture with the arrangement I made. That was an authentic thing. It wasn’t me being like, oh, I better go get some flowers for my Instagram. You know what I mean? I try to make sure that there’s a real narrative behind things. Because otherwise, I think generation X’s bullshit detector is incredible, and they don’t want to follow someone who’s not genuine. I don’t want to follow someone who’s not genuine. So it’s about being as honest as possible but also like yeah, I made sure the lighting was nice.”
On feminism and reputation:
“I think that there’s a weird self-seriousness that surrounds me. But just because I have some things to say about some things doesn’t mean that I think I’m some sage gifting wisdom. What I always try to say about being a feminist is like, I’m just figuring it out and that’s how feminism should be. Like maybe say something to test it out, to figure out whether you think it’s true. And then maybe it changes or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you tapped into something amazing. But I really feel like it’s all just an organic flow, and I don’t know that people always know that’s how I think about things. It’s definitely a weird accident that people are like, ‘She really thinks she knows what she’s talking about,’ and I’m like, no, I don’t! Let’s just talk about it in general. It’s a conversation, you know?”
Next, don't miss our interview with Hailey Baldwin.