Recently separated Emily Ratajkowski is in her “bitch era”. During a Wednesday appearance on The Today Show, she opened up to hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb about how life has been for her since filing for divorce from Sebastian Bear-McClard.
“It’s crazy. It’s so nice, honestly. I don’t owe anything to anybody — other than my son, that’s the only man,” the 31-year-old model and actress said.
In terms of why she’s given this phase of her life that name, she had this to say:
“I like that word because I feel like I’m reappropriating it. It has a negative connotation. But for me, it’s like, ‘No, no, it’s a good thing!'” she went on before letting an expletive slip. “I don’t put up with s–t.”
Last time I wrote about Emily, I was a bit critical of her social media activity. But I love this for her. I don’t think what she’s describing has anything to do with bitchiness and everything to do with setting better boundaries. I think what she’s describing is actually incredibly healthy and a lot of women and men could benefit from asserting where their lines in the sand are and realizing that we’re only responsible for ourselves (and our little ones, if we’re parents of course).
Nonetheless, I really appreciate seeing her define herself and this era in the way that she chooses, and seeing her step into her own self-agency. Especially because during the interview, she also revealed that for years, she’s been a serial monogamist, saying being in relationships helped her to feel safe.
“I think it was a way for me to protect myself,” she said. “I was entering a really crazy industry and working in a really crazy industry where I think now we can accept that there are a lot of predatory, scary men.”
She also said that her desire “to be loved” and receive validation were among the reasons she stayed in relationships. I can’t imagine getting a divorce is easy. But considering she only filed in September, she’s making huge strides in re-establishing herself, her identity, her brand and her ambitions. It’s refreshing to see, really. And it’s relatable af.
The other day, during a chat with my sister, she pointed out that I had never really “taken a break” in my dating life. I was ready to defend myself, but after taking a second to think about it, I realized she was right. Shortly after a breakup, there was always someone else.
I thought about this for days, trying to drum up some reasoning as to why I might be this way. Was it some unearthed childhood trauma I had suppressed? Did I have undiagnosed Daddy issues? I couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought about all the self-discovery I may have missed out on while I preoccupied myself with relationships. But then I listened to a podcast that changed my perspective on things.
It was a podcast episode called The Science of Quitting. It encouraged people to reframe how we think about quitting – whether it be walking away from a dead-end job or leaving a relationship we know isn’t going anywhere.
In it, author and former professional poker player Annie Duke described that the key to being a good poker player is knowing when to cut your losses. She also described how the English language offers so many words for people who aren’t good at cutting their losses, which could actually be a weakness, but you’d never be able to tell because we use words like resilient, persistent and determined, to describe them. Quitting is a strength. Knowing when to walk away, even in the face of public scrutiny, which celebrities face so much, is an amazing skill to have.
By far, though, the most interesting takeaway I got was the concept of “turn around time”. It’s a survival tool used in hiking and climbing and it’s an advanced decision made by travellers that if they don’t make it to point B by a certain time, they must go back to point A. She describes the catastrophic year that was 1996 on Mount Everest where many people had died, including the legendary Rob Hall, hailed as a hero after he died during his attempt to get to the summit. He had set turnaround times, but because he was so determined to make it to the summit, he disobeyed them and ended up dying. There were two other climbers, however, who honoured their turnaround times and survived.
After listening to this podcast, I realized two things. The first is that, just like Emily, I am a serial monogamist. I enjoy relationships. I enjoy being loved and I absolutely find validation in it. I don’t think that means it’s tied to trauma or some unfulfilled need. And I don’t think I’m “missing” out on self-discovery by not being single, because it’s possible to learn a lot about yourself in relationships, and I certainly have.
The second thing I realized is that women like Emily and me, though we may not know it, have set turn around times in our relationships. If we are unhappy for this period of time, we will leave. And the more I think about that, the prouder I am of it.
Emily’s started a podcast recently as part of her post-separation glow up. It’s called High Low. In her recent first episode, she opened up about her dating life and shared her thoughts on having sex on the first date.
“I think the conclusion we've come to is that you should do whatever the hell you want to do. But knowing what it is that you want to do is really hard. That's the hard work.”
She also described an instance where she made the first move on a recent date after feeling like she wanted to be kissed.
“I kind of grabbed him and kissed him,” she said.
There is a certain je ne sais quoi that a lot of women experience after a breakup, separation or divorce. It can be heartbreaking, but there is also a great sense of liberation that comes with it. And if the flourish we’re seeing Emily experience is any indication, I’d argue that this isn’t her bitch era, but her bad bitch era.