Playboy is infamous for making waves. The most current incident that comes to mind is the magazine’s decision to remove nude photos. But now, Playboy is once again receiving attention for featuring a model wearing a hijab.
Noor Tagouri, a Muslim American journalist, will be featured in the magazine’s October issue. Tagouri is the first hijab-wearing woman to appear in Playboy, something many have been quick to express their views on, both positive and negative.
Aside from a host of Islamophobic comments, Tagouri has received criticism from her own religious community.
For instance, The Washington Post recently published a collaborative article, penned by Inas Younis, freelance writer, and Asma T. Uddin, founder and editor-in-chief of AltMuslimah, in response to the feature. They addressed the apparent contradiction of a “hijab-wearing-woman in a magazine known for [. . .] objectifying women,” and speculated that this was Playboy’s intention.
While I understand why some may feel that this is inappropriate, I think Tagouri’s appearance in Playboy is encouraging. Her feature marks another successful change that Playboy has made to the magazine, and promises a remarkable future.
For a moment, let’s focus on the magazine’s reasons for featuring Tagouri. The publication’s October issue is about “Renegades,” featuring eight women and men who “aren’t afraid to break the rules.”
Playboy has always been about this kind of commitment to nonconformity, but its approach here is different from what we’ve seen in the past. This new journalistic angle demonstrates how Playboy is working to remain a relevant and revolutionary part of print media.
While the magazine hasn’t totally abandoned sex as a theme (the October issue will also feature porn star Stoya), Tagouri’s feature proves that Playboy is capable of being diverse in its representation. Playboy’s shift in focus is, in fact, a more modern way of showcasing the rebelliousness and difference that it’s always been known for.
Playboy is no longer about what you are or are not wearing. Instead, it’s a magazine that’s attempting to showcase people who are different from those we commonly see represented in media. It’s using their unique perspectives to challenge and shape the world that their readers live in.
In other words, it’s offering us a more intimate look into what it looks like to deviate from the norms of society and media representation. It shows that “provocative” can mean things besides being naked on a centrefold.
Playboy has chosen to feature a woman based solely on her brilliance and hard work. Unlike what would occur in many other magazines, she is not being used as fetish porn or as a token of diversity, but instead is being recognized for her merit.
Playboy’s shift away from its traditional nudity has, ironically, allowed them to return to its roots. It’s once again able to be recognized as a magazine that is about challenging our society, and encouraging others to do the same.
Ultimately, I think Tagouri’s appearance in the magazine is incredibly positive, both for her and for Playboy. For Tagouri, it is an opportunity to showcase herself as a successful Muslim American, hijab-wearing woman. For Playboy, it is an opportunity to prove to us once again that it is not the clothes the magazine cares for, but the person in them.
If you ask me, I think we could all learn a thing or two from that approach.