End of an Era: Playboy Says No to Nudity

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After 62 years featuring naked Playmates and models, the magazine is shifting gears. Here's why.

Playboy is going PG, or at least PG-13.

The iconic men’s magazine recently announced its plans to stop publishing photos of fully naked women. The newly redesigned Playboy will hit stores in February.

So, why is the magazine dropping the naked images that made it so famous? In a letter to readers, the magazine explains:

Playboy has been a friend to nudity, and nudity has been a friend to Playboy, for decades. The short answer is: times change.

First published in 1953, Playboy was a quick hit with male readers. Over the past 62 years, the magazine, founded by Hugh Hefner, who still serves as the magazine’s editor-in-chief, has featured nude photos of popular singers, actresses and models, including Farrah Fawcett, Anna Nicole Smith, Jenny McCarthy, Pamela Anderson, Betty Page and Marilyn Monroe.

But Playboy, once the coveted adult magazine of American teenage boys, has lost much of its appeal. After all, online pornography is just a mouse click away, and in many instances, it’s free.

According to The New York Times, Playboy’s circulation has plummeted from its pre-Internet days of 5.6 million in 1975 to just 800,000 today.

Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance.

Playboy aimed to liberate sex, taking it out of the bedroom and into the mainstream. Now 62 years after it debuted, it’s pulling naked women from its pages.

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

Playboy is hoping that dropping full nudity from its pages will help the magazine appeal to a broader audience, both online and in print. In a letter to readers, Playboy explains that nudity doesn’t define the magazine:

Tens of millions of readers come to our non-nude website and app every month for, yes, photos of beautiful women, but also for articles and videos from our humor, sex and culture, style, nightlife, entertainment and video game sections. We are, and always have been, “entertainment for men” – with award-winning journalism and fiction to boot. Playboy is a cultural arbiter of beauty, taste, opinion, humor and style.

So next time someone says they’re reading Playboy for the articles, you might want to believe them.

What do you think of Playboy’s decision to stop publishing photos of fully nude women? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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