Playboy Magazine Revives Nudity

A year after removing nudity from its publication, Playboy Magazine has decided that life is better without clothes, after all.

In fall 2015, the company made the controversial decision that, beginning in spring 2016, its celebrated Playmate pictorials would no longer contain full nudity. Playboy is now reversing course and will return to the format that made it famous, starting with the March/April edition. “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,” wrote Cooper Hefner (son of company founder Hugh Hefner), Playboy’s chief creative officer. “Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”

For anyone accustomed to Playboy’s established pre-2016 format, leafing through the pages of the “new” non-nude Playboy was a bit like sipping non-alcoholic beer or taking a draw on a low-nicotine cigarette. The move also allowed Kelly Holland to successfully reinvent Penthouse more overtly in the Playboy mold, combining smart journalism with tasteful nudity.

The reintroduction of nudity might not be a cure-all for the Playboy brand, though. “The people who grew up with Playboy magazine are starting to fade away,” journalism professor Samir Husni told the Associated Press, “so they will have to figure out what the millennial generation wants in the 21st century if they are going to survive.”

Playboy is also tweaking its overall philosophy slightly, pushing into more political terrain, as outlined by Cooper Hefner in a post on the Playboy website: “One 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 [ . . . ] Regardless of our sexual orientation or political point of view, what we’re seeing in society has happened before and that we all agree an attack on Muslim Americans, on women’s healthcare rights, on the LGBTQ community or on the First Amendment is in fact an attack on all our rights. And we should be ready to defend those rights at all costs on the intellectual battlefield.”