Playboy Covers Up

By Madelyn Adams

The magazine once known for its lewd and explicit photography has introduced some conservative standards considering their un-conservative past.

Playboy Magazine, the ground-breaking publication that first launched in 1953, with sex-symbol Marilyn Monroe starring as its first centerfold, has since grown into the symbol of sex fantasies with its iconic rabbit logo, multi-million-dollar Playboy Mansion, and the never ending list of Playboy Playmates. For generations of boys, secretly flipping through the latest issue of Playboy was sort of a rite of passage into manhood, and the magazine helped in igniting the sexual revolution of the 1960s. However, despite its legacy that first began with full-frontal nude photographs, the publication has recently decided to no longer include such photographs beginning with its March 2016 issue.

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When asked about the unexpected change, Playboy CEO, Scott Flanders says, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.” It’s true — the rise of online pornography has certainly played a role in Playboy’s decline over the past few decades. In the 1970s, Playboy’s circulation was nearly 5.6 million and has since dropped to only 700,000. Nowadays nude photographs and pornography are as easy to access as Facebook, and most of it is completely free.

Despite its abandonment of nude photographs, Playboy will still remain true to its racy image while attempting to “class up” its brand. The publication has always been known for its quality print content and with the new changes, Playboy is attempting to compete with the likes of Vanity Fair. That’s not to say that the featured models will no longer will be nude – they will still bare it all, however their intimate body parts will be creatively concealed from the viewer’s eye.

Taking the plunge into non-nudity isn’t the only change in Playboy’s attempt to revamp its outdated image. The magazine will no longer be packaged and sold in a plastic wrap bag and will now be printed in a 9 x 11 format. The phrase “Entertainment for Men” has been dropped from the magazine’s cover, and a woman will now be writing the Playboy Advisor advice column – a step in the right direction if you ask me. Best of all, the photographs will no longer be heavily retouched and airbrushed, allowing for more gritty and realistic content.

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With that, Playboy’s March 2016 issue features model, Sarah McDaniel posing as if she were sending a sexy selfie on Snapchat with the playful caption “heyyy ;)”. Although the cover certainly isn’t classy, it’s an attempt to appeal to a younger millennial audience, and it sheds light on the role social media apps play in today’s changing definitions of sex.  Also featured in the issue is Dree Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s great granddaughter. The photographs of Hemingway are actually quite beautiful and reflect Playboy’s changing ways.

Although Playboy’s controversial decision to drop the nude and up the class will probably be more rewarding in the long term, the publication is risking its dedicated readers in an attempt to appeal to younger readers, and has been under much scrutiny from long-term fans. Criticizers have a point — after all, no one reads Playboy for its articles.

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