Sunday, April 10, 2011

Old Playboy vs New Playboy

I just read an article on Bust's website [NSFW] about a Tumblr [NSFW] consisting solely of pictures of vintage Playboy models.
It's weird: When I was a child I remember all of the feminists talking about how these images promoted unhealthy body images for women. I would sneak peaks of my grandpa's Playboys whenever we visited my grandparents in Chicago, where my grandpa was also a member of the Playboy Club, which was the first of the clubs. I thought these women were beautiful and glamorous and thought, "I hope I look like that when I grow up."
Fast forward about thirty years and you'll find me saying, "The women in Playboy promote unhealthy body images for women." I created a memory that the women from the '70s and early '80s Playboys were not so different than those today. Mostly white, mostly blond, mostly fake tanned and fake titted and mostly unnaturally thin. The only thing I remembered was that the whole infatuation with hairless vulvae did not exist back then. (Translation: There were lots of large, scary, unruly bushes back then; even in Playboy.)
Trotting over to the Tumblr [not kidding: NSFW] page, I found myself pleasantly surprised. These women may not be fat, but some are certainly zaftig by today's standards in media-- soft porn or otherwise. I even recognized my upper arms on one woman, my breasts on another, my bum on another and on and on. Yes, the women had large breasts most of the time, but there were also women with fairly small breasts and, as far as I can tell, these breasts were original operating equipment. Yes, there was an obsession with tan lines back then, but they were so much cuter than the orange fake-bakers of today's Playboy who want us to believe they all live near nude beaches or something.
These images were so much healthier for girls and boys as far as realistic expectations. So why did my generation and the one before ours corrupt these fairly wholesome, healthy looking images into the plastic looking women of today? And if Playboy and other nude magazines keep going at this rate, what will the women look like ten, twenty, thirty, even 75 years from now? Will it circle back around or will bizarre fetishes continue to force the models to deform themselves until they are almost not even human anymore? When Mr. Hefner created his visions for Playboy, it was supposed to be wholesome, girl-next-door nude fun. “Clean sex has greater appeal than tawdry sex,” he said. So how did the fetishes for hairlessness and oversize breasts (along with other fetishes which used to have their own, special magazine) creep in? What will it take for it to creep back out?
At this point in history, I doubt Playboy will ever go back to the au naturel girl-next-door types since they are competing with the abundance of internet porn creating stiff--er, no pun intended--competition for the Hefners to keep up with if they want to make a buck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am always so troubled when pornography in any form becomes any kind of discussion other than how it objectifies women. So the women years ago were not as thin as they are now. They're still naked, and promoted as 'playmates' and bunnies. Hugh Hefner and his minions have done more damage to women than anything else.
Sorry, but I had to make my plug for how pornography sucks the soul out of us all.
Jen Mustoe

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