Entertainment Style ‘Nudity was never the problem’: Playboy brings skin back to its pages
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‘Nudity was never the problem’: Playboy brings skin back to its pages

elizabeth elam
Model Elizabeth Elam appears completely naked in the magazine's March/April 2017 issue. Photo: Gavin Bond/Playboy
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Playboy has reinstated nude photos to its pages just one year after announcing it would ban full frontal nudity entirely, debuting a new philosophy that’s all about freedom of expression.

Model Elizabeth Elam appears topless on the cover of the March/April 2017 issue of the monthly men’s magazine, partially obscured by the cover line, “Naked is normal”.

Cooper Hefner, who took over from his father Hugh Hefner as Playboy‘s Chief Creative Officer in October 2016, called removing nudity from the magazine “a mistake”

“I’ll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake,” Cooper Hefner said in a statement.

“Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”

The cover of the March/April 2017 issue.
The cover of the March/April 2017 issue. Photo: Playboy

Cooper suggested the backflip was about taking the magazine back to its roots.

“[O]ne thing is clear that both my dad and I understand at its simplest form, and that is what Playboy and the United States strive to represent in their greatest forms: freedom,” he wrote in an editorial on the magazine’s website.

The decision to reinstate some skin appears to be motivated by a change in leadership and ideology rather than any financial pressures.

Sales of the magazine soared after it announced in March last year that it would abandon the risqué content that made it famous in favour of more tasteful spreads combined with “award-winning long-form journalism, interviews and fiction”.

Newsstand sales jumped 28 per cent in the six months following the change.

However, Cooper Hefner consistently maintained his opposition to the idea, openly disagreeing with the “vision” held by CEO Scott Flanders.

“I was essentially asked to no longer participate in the board meetings because I didn’t agree with his vision for the company,” he told Business Insider.

Flanders left the company in June 2016.

Industry experts speculated the magazine would revert to its old ways toward the end of last year, when 25-year-old Cooper replaced his father as Chief Creative Officer after the older Hefner stepped down due to health issues.

#NakedIsNormal

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Playboy is not the only brand to make substantial changes to the way it represents women in the 21st century.

The Pirelli Calendar has abandoned photos of nude supermodels in favour of black-and-white shots of influential women, while the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition began featuring plus-size models.

Men’s magazine Maxim also attempted a rebrand, featuring more fashion-focussed, tasteful photo shoots. but that backfired, with newsstand sales dropping and the new editor, Kate Lanphear, ousted six months after the big reveal.

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