Playboy: Then and Now

by Emilie Branch


Last night I discovered “The Women of Playboy”, a tumblr devoted to models featured in the magazine from the late fifties up to the nineties. I couldn’t stop looking at the playmates—I was up until 2am. What kept me up weren’t just the naked ladies, but the fact that the women looked real. All the girls were natural; none had breast implants or zero pubic hair. They looked like us.

What really kept me up was the monster change in the standard of beauty over the past 40 years. The girls in early Playboy look happy; they look like they just rolled out of bed. There is a casual degree of sexiness that emanates from the pages. This is because they are casually sexy. The playmates haven’t been operated on, implanted, dissected, or airbrushed. When Hugh Hefner started the magazine, I think he intended to show men real, albeit beautiful, women. Men wanted to see the girl next door, or their friend’s wife, naked. This was the fantasy—the real girl.

It’s disturbing to think about what men want, what the media feeds them, and the affect this has on women. Ultimately, all women suffer as a result of Playboy in 2011. Of course, it’s very easy to ignore a nudie mag—I have almost no experience even holding one, but I believe that in general, whether we’re conscious of it or not, we suffer. We either feel as though we can’t measure up or undergo surgery so we can. It makes me long for 1958, when a smiling woman, flaws and all, would pop off the magazine’s pages as the picture of confidence. The men staring at her would think she was perfect, and it would make them appreciate their wives even more; their wives looked just as good as the women in Playboy. 

Playboy Then:

Playboy Now:

Image Credits:


You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.