Playboy Is Going Nude Once More And Hugh Heffner's Son Has An Interesting Defense

'Nudity was never the problem, because nudity isn't a problem'

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Playboy ended it's decades-long full-nude objectification of women this time last year, to be replaced with partially-nude objectification thereafter.

In an attempt to modernise in an increasingly politically-aware world and forge a semi-clothed niche for themselves in the barrage of nude imagery available online, the mag stamped artful hands over vaginas and nipples and called it a day.

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The magazine has now revoked this ban on full-nudity - the mag is nude once more (nipples and bums only mind) - for two reasons seemingly.

Firstly, already reportedly flailing circulation numbers were said to have dwindled further after the move to semi-nude.

As The Huffington Post reported, 'Perhaps it could be something to do with the fact that the publication's readership was already down to 800,000 when the nudity ban was announced, and since then has continued to plummet to 700,000 at the end of last year.'

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And secondly, Playboy's new chief creative officer, Hugh Heffner's 25-year-old son Cooper Hefner, made this announcement on Monday.

#NakedIsNormal

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And you know what?

He's right.

Heff 2.0 explains that nudity is, inherently, not the issue.

(He has also written a very welcome and positive open letter about Playboy's political aims.)

That's true, it is it's portrayal through the male gaze, its context between car reviews and the like written by men, and its homogenous, white, blonde, plastic form, that is, in fact, the real problem.

Recently, the brand's Instagram has been using doctored art to prove their point.

7 #NakedIsNormal #SandroBotticelli

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And yes, we get it, nudity is beautiful and can be crucial in art.

5 #NakedIsNormal #PabloPicasso

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What would these paintings and cultural moments be without the nipples and more?

3 #NakedIsNormal #AdamandEve

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And boy did they really hammer this point home.

2 #NakedIsNormal #FranciscoGoya

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So how are Playboy going to doctor out the objectification from their pages?

It seems the women featured in the new version of the magazine have been given a greater platform.

Scarlett Byrne (she was in Harry Potter), stars in the spread 'The Feminist Mystique' for which she writes an accompanying essay.

The title is a riff from the canonical 60s text, 'The Feminine Mystique' by Betty Friedan.

The magazine also features the powerful and vocal feminist Scarlett Johansson being interviewed and photographed, clothed.

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And female photographers, such as Ellen Von Unworth, are behind the lens this time round.

You know what?

So far, so good.

There has obviously been a clear and determined attempt to change the context and gaze of the images.

With plenty of female commentary, opinion and agency this new Playboy seems like it could be a decided shift from its past.

The monetising of Feminism is nothing new, and we're not totally against it.

Being political pays these days, and although the most cynical of us can see a brand or person (or a person as a brand) may be becoming increasingly political for their paycheck, the effect is ultimately positive.

Essentially, being informed and caring is becoming cool, but you need to follow through.

As Pandora Sykes pointed out in her essay, 'Do Nude Selfies Negate Feminism?' with the proliferation of imagery, whatever the intent, the effect can be completely divorced from it.

Just because the term 'empowering' or 'choice' have been slapped near the image, does that matter once it is screenshot and repost on another account, or the page placed into the hands of an unenlightened reader?

Nobody deserves it but you. @audrey.a.allen shot by @yvestruong

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How can the image alone be 'feminist', and is the new Playboy achieving it?

Well, if we take 'feminist image' to mean it's intent is to in some way to undermine or question patriarchal beauty ideals, you may need to take photos of someone other than twenty-something thin, able-bodied, hairless (from the neck down - must have as much hair as poss on top of the head), white women.

Because, although #NakedIsNormal, so are lots of other things, like more melanin.

And, taking a brief scroll down the Playboy Instagram page, there seems to be one mould of normal nudity is this magazine.

Elegantly untamed. @joycorrigan shot by @joeywrightphoto

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So, Heff junior, it's an alright start, but just like the rest of us, you've still got a while to go.

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