Emily Ratajkowski is expecting her first child with Sebastian Bear-McClard. The model revealed the news in a very personal essay for Vogue where she explained why she doesn’t want to reveal the baby’s gender.
“When my husband and I tell friends that I’m pregnant, 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,” Ratajkowski, 29, writes. “Everyone laughs at this. There is a truth to our line, though, 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. Who will this person be? What kind of person will we become parents to? How will they change our lives and who we are? This is a wondrous and terrifying concept, one that renders us both helpless and humbled.”
The Gone Girl actress continues, “I like the idea of forcing as few gender stereotypes on my child as possible. But no matter how progressive I may hope to be, I understand the desire to know the gender of our fetus; it feels like the first real opportunity to glimpse who they might be. As my body changes in bizarre and unfamiliar ways, it’s comforting to obtain any information that might make what’s coming feel more real.”
Ratajkowski says she “almost automatically imagined myself having a daughter.”
“’To be perfectly honest,’ I tell my husband over dinner, ‘I’m not sure that I even know that I want a girl. I guess I’d just never really thought about having a boy before,’” she recalls.
“‘I do worry a girl will have a lot to live up to as your daughter,’” her husband replied, noting “‘that’s a lot of pressure.’”
“‘I’ll never let that be an issue,’ I tell my husband, but I can’t help worrying,” Ratajkowski continues. “I still fight subconscious and internalized misogyny on a regular basis, catching myself as I measure the width of my hips against another woman’s. Who is to say I’d be able to protect my daughter from it?”
Ratajkowski calls pregnancy “innately lonely,” noting that despite Bear-McClard saying “we’re pregnant,” that’s “not entirely true.”
“I am ultimately alone with my body in this experience. There is no one to feel it with me — the sharp muscular aches in my lower abdomen that come out of nowhere while I’m watching a movie or the painful heaviness of my breasts that now greets me first thing every morning,” she writes. “My husband has no physical symptoms in ‘our’ pregnancy, another reminder of how different a woman and man’s experience of life can be.”
After going down an Instagram rabbit hole of watching gender reveal videos, the model wondered if girls are “universally terrifying to fathers” and why “mini-mes” are “so universally appealing.”
“I’m scared of having a son too, although not in the same way. I’ve known far too many white men who move through the world unaware of their privilege, and I’ve been traumatized by many of my experiences with them,” Ratajkowski adds. “And boys too; it’s shocking to realize how early young boys gain a sense of entitlement — to girls’ bodies and to the world in general. I’m not scared of raising a “bad guy,” as many of the men I’ve known who abuse their power do so unintentionally. But I’m terrified of inadvertently cultivating the carelessness and the lack of awareness that are so convenient for men. It feels much more daunting to create an understanding of privilege in a child than to teach simple black-and-white morality. How do I raise a child who learns to like themself while also teaching them about their position of power in the world?”
Although she has “apprehensions about having a boy,” Ratajkowski shares that she thought she was having a boy early on. However, she doesn’t fill in the reader on if her hunch is accurate — or even if she found out.
“Everyone has opinions on what to expect from a boy or a girl,” she explains, later adding, “But I don’t like that we force gender-based preconceptions onto people, let alone babies. I want to be a parent who allows my child to show themself to me. And yet I realize that while I may hope my child can determine their own place in the world, they will, no matter what, be faced with the undeniable constraints and constructions of gender before they can speak or, hell, even be born.”
Ratajkowski says she has tried to use “magical thinking” throughout her life as a coping mechanism.
“I used to use magical thinking whenever I wanted something to go a certain way. Now, though, I don’t try to envision a pink or blue blanket in my arms. I’m too humbled to have any false notions of control,” she concludes. “I’m completely and undeniably helpless when it comes to almost everything surrounding my pregnancy: how my body will change, who my child will be. But I’m surprisingly unbothered. Instead of feeling afraid, I feel a new sense of peace. I’m already learning from this person inside my body. I’m full of wonder.”
The model showed off her digital Vogue cover on Instagram, writing, “Grateful & growing.”
Ratajkowski also gave fans a glimpse of her pregnancy journey thus far in a video directed by Lena Dunham.
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