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Jordan Emanuel

Between activism and body awareness: Jordan Emanuel’s version

Written by Matteo Muzio
Photos by Erica MacLean, Genevieve Andrews e Sean Turi

We interview Jordan Emanuel, Bunny and Playmate for Playboy, but also TopModel: a life in the world of photography and fashion, but always attentive to the languages and evolutions of society’s customs. From an object of male desire into a tool for empowering women’s awareness, but also attentive to interracial inclusion projects, helping those in need and a fighter for social justice (note her fundraising for George Floyd’s family). A woman who has much to tell, and we interviewed her for you.

Can your body be the tool with which you tell a piece of reality? Yes, if you were the last Playmate of the Year for the historic Playboy magazine in 2019. However, Jordan Emanuel, born on Christmas Day 1992, is not like the bunnies who preceded her, not only because she is African-American (like her only four others in history), but also because she has clear ideas about the future. In the following years, she collaborated with Playboy not only as a model but also as a journalist and her contributions also ended up in Business Insider and Reader’s Digest, without, however, forgetting her modelling career, working for brands such as Rimmel and Good American. In addition, she has created her own swimwear line that has been the subject of features. Today, she has clear ideas about what she wants to do in the coming years: starting with journalism, passing through the belief that women are agents of change,

to transform the image of the female nude body from an object of male desire into a tool for strengthening women’s awareness.

Without neglecting some criticism of the world of digital activism. Here is what she told us:

Jordan Emanuel, the field where you work, that is, fashion and glamour has been heavily criticised by some feminists and activists as an environment that is inherently sexist and shaped by men’s tastes and aspirations. Is this partly true or has the attitude changed?
Some people will always be angry when women make decisions about how to use their bodies. There will always be those who criticise, those who choose to go their own way. I also believe that society has been built on patriarchal foundations, so there are elements that come from a male perspective, but I firmly believe that the models’ decisions regarding their decision to participate in certain shoots are for their own self-improvement and not for the men lucky enough to watch them.

Your personal choice to remain chaste for a year, which you exposed in an interview with the American edition of Glamour, caused a stir. What effect did it have on you?
It has made me more confident: now I know for sure what I want or not and what I can accept or not

Your reporting on reality, however, is not limited to the body. Your connection with journalism goes back a long way: you chose it as a subject to study at university and started collaborating for a few newspapers such as Hollywood Life and Bossip both with articles and video content. Do you plan to return to journalism in the next few years, perhaps by founding digital newspapers yourself?
I am not going back to it because I have never abandoned it. I write with continuity and in the future I would like to have a regular column or a specific project for an existing title: I think there are many interesting ones and I don’t think I need to fund a new one.

In 2020, in the days following George Floyd’s death, you transformed your Instagram profile by creating sections on protest movements and the possibility of raising money for George Floyd’s family and other collections for people involved in the demonstrations. Do you think digital activism can still be useful today?

(African-American George Floyd, who was shot by a white policeman while being arrested, became the symbol of racism against blacks ed.)

At the time, I wanted to provide material to inform and make people understand what was happening in America in that moment and maybe get people to help out. Now, however, I don’t think it is so useful to do that and that it can be effective.

Personally, I prefer to lend a more concrete hand by funding mental health projects and other things related to a person’s well-being.

So recently I haven’t posted anything anymore because some people think they are OK by putting up a reel and that sounds really inauthentic.

This is why you are one of the co-founders of ‘Women with voices’, a non-profit women’s inclusion organisation based in New York: can you explain what you do?
My focus in the organisation is on mental health and overcoming trauma, but also on sex education and women’s liberation, although we are currently in a period of transition and are changing locations. In recent years, however, we have provided loans for women’s businesses and organised several events to collect toys, clothes and school supplies, and we have rewarded those public figures who have done so much in their communities. In the future I would like to involve other influencers and other talents to be able to give women not only consumer goods, but to help them pamper themselves, make them confident in their own means, prepare them for a job interview and help them dress better according to their budget. In short, to improve their lives.

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