After 62 years, Playboy magazine halting nude pix

Nicole Williams
Life Reporter

Playboy’s decision to cover up their famous centerfolds has prompted different responses on Tuesday in terms of sex, feminism and publishing.

Founded in 1953 with an initial nude gatefold of screen star Marilyn Monroe, the legendary magazine, known for its undressed women, announced last Monday that, beginning in 2016, it will no longer be publishing photos of nude women.

The surprise move comes after chief content officer Cory Jones suggested the idea to founder Hugh Hefner and he agreed, the New York Times reported.

The strategy is part of a redesign of the magazine that will be launched in March of next year. The publication will still feature women in provocative poses, but editors say that the internet offers more than enough alternatives for people who want to see nude photos.

For some experts, Playboy’s move seems confusing.

Fatima Mechtab, the director of marketing for Oasis Aqualounge, a clothing- optional sex club in downtown Toronto, saw the magazine as a staple of sex-positive culture.

“I love Playboy magazine,” Mechtab told Humber News on Tuesday. “The photos are always tasteful and for its time, it was pushing boundaries.”

She notes that certain photos of women can celebrate “their bodies and beauty,” and moving away from nudity could result in power being taken away from women.

“In comparison to what’s happening now, it’s not the most sex-positive magazine,” said Mechtab. “I don’t think it necessarily helps feminism.”

Some observers say the move by Playboy has nothing to do with progressive thought.

“It’s a business move,” said Angela Aulja, a Humber College professor who teaches a course on women and popular culture.

When it comes to selling nude photography in a magazine format the times have changed too much, she said.

“It’s become an obsolete medium,” said Aulja. “Anyone interested in accessing pornography will do so online, so [Playboy is] moving to a different format to get a different audience.”

And with the rebrand, Playboy acknowledges its offerings have gone stale in the Internet age.

“That battle has been fought and won. You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture,” said Playboy’s chief executive Scott Flanders.

According to the Alliance for Audited Media, which gathers figures on magazines across North America, circulation for Playboy has dropped from 5.6 million in 1975 to about 800,000 today.

Moving forward Aulja suspects Playboy will follow a new format similar to Esquire or GQ and will likely be successful.

“They want their branding to be read on the subway without getting looks. They’ll still get the Playboy brand, which is still strong, but in a way that’s more publicly acceptable,” said Aulja.

But for others, Playboy without the nudes just won’t be the same.

“Without its nudes, it’s just another magazine for men. They’re not going to stand out,” said Mechtab.

Playboy is also well known for its in-depth long form journalism and has featured many high-profile writers such as Joyce Carol Oates and Margaret Atwood, and interviews with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

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