Playboy Magazine Nudes Back

Naked Truth! Why I’m Backing the Growing Movement to Bring Nudity Back to ‘Playboy’

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By Caroline Kent | 4:08 pm, November 8, 2016

Playboy magazine got rid of its notorious nude spreads in March 2016. But intriguing publishing dynastic developments might bring about their return.

Hugh Hefner, the 90-year-old founder of Playboy, has stepped down as Chief Creative Officer and been replaced by his outspoken son Cooper, a longstanding supporter of nudity on its pages.

The word amongst magazine insiders is that with Hef’s son making a move on the Playboy boardroom, the magazine may return to a more explicit editorial policy. According to the New York Post, rumors are swirling that Cooper is pushing for a return to fully nude women for 2017. He told Keith Kelly’s Media Ink column: “As we close in on our 64th year as an organization, I can assure you certain aspects of our formula will change… Let’s just say, 2017 will be a big year for our rabbit.”

I, for one, hope to see a return to the glitzy, garish days of Playboy’s genitalia-filled glory days. Nudie magazines have been steadily falling out of favor globally for some time.

@therealashsmith cover t-shirt on sale now at playboyshop.com

A photo posted by Playboy (@playboy) on

The expunging from newsstands of magazines that feature naked bodies has been going on in the UK for some time. Closures of so-called “lads mags” followed pressure from campaigners over the magazines’ content.

As part of this movement, supermarket chain The Co-operative pulled copies of magazines such as Loaded, Nuts and Zoo from their shelves in 2013, which campaigners took as a victory. The following year, Loaded made the editorial decision to ditch scantily clad women from its front cover.

All the magazines ceased publication shortly after, a delight for campaigners but it dealt a blow to many in the media industry, including me. I interned on FHM magazine, one of the biggest ‘lads mags’ and found the content and those creating it to be more professionally produced than most that I have seen in my decade working on magazines.

It was especially ironic, considering the exploitation and discrimination you see amongst fashion media, that many women were so passionate about stopping consenting women from appearing in lads mags.

Scott Flanders, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, said in 2015 of his decision to roll back nudity: “The political and sexual climate of 1953, the year Hugh Hefner introduced Playboy to the world, bears almost no resemblance to today.”

He continued: “We are more free to express ourselves politically, sexually and culturally today.”

I don’t agree. Many media consumers are just as stuffy and illiberal, but in different ways. It’s very right-on to campaign for nudes to be taken out of nude-y magazines “for the sake of the women.” But I jump into defensive mode when I see something that I perceive to threaten freedom of sexual expression, especially that of women (and especially when they are able to make a decent living doing it), mainly because this increasing tendency towards sexual puritanism is often just another way of telling women what to do and how to behave.

I grew up holidaying on the beaches of Europe where it was, and still is, the norm for women to sunbathe naked. French women, for example, who are famously liberal about how and when they expose themselves, are seen as sexual beings well into their 80s. Good for them!

American and British attitudes toward nudity seem rather quaint and colloquial by comparison. What’s more, attempts to rid magazines of naked women are usually based on the assumption that men are so moronic and impressionable that the merest wisp of butt cheek could send them on a misogyny-spree.

Whilst many women rejoiced at nudes leaving Playboy, I saw their disappearance as a sad sign that my generation is perhaps becoming more prudish and awkward about sex than our parents’ generation.

And while it’s socially unacceptable to look at a pair of boobs in a magazine, we’re happily ignoring the fact that people stream the same old filth when they’re alone and isolated on the internet.

I always admired that Playboy showed sex and nudity alongside the (apparently) more intellectual pursuits of politics and sports.

Throwback to our 60th anniversary Kate Moss x Marc Jacobs collab. 💎 @sashaluss at Fashion Week

A video posted by Playboy (@playboy) on

The magazine has a long history of publishing short stories by novelists ranging from Nabokov to P. G. Wodehouse to Margaret Atwood, alongside notable architects, economists, composers, journalists, religious figures, politicians and athletes.

And vaginas. Hairy ones, bald ones, famous ones. Why shouldn’t vaginas sit alongside literature and politics? Can one not enjoy both?

Nudity, and the sexualizing of a body, doesn’t have to be secret and shameful, but these days it increasingly is. Censoring sex from the mainstream media supports the notion that sex is men’s domain and women’s suffering. It’s not.

It’s cool to see women loving, exhibiting, and indeed profiting from their bodies. It certainly seems no more unhealthy than hating, starving and hiding them away as much of the women’s media persuades them to.

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