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Harry Potter star Scarlett Byrne is posing for Playboy because “naked is normal”

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Nudity and feminism can make uneasy bedfellows. On one hand, you have Free the Nipple; on the other, the No More Page 3 campaign. In the blue corner stand Emily Ratajkowski and Demi Lovato and the like, who insist that posing for sexy photo shoots is empowering; in the red corner are the many people who believe getting your kit off can never be an innately feminist act.

Strolling nonchalantly into the debate this week – with the air of an organisation trying to suppress a collective giggle – is Playboy. Cooper Hefner, the brand’s new creative officer (and son of original magnate Hugh Hefner) has reinstated full-frontal female nudity in the long-running men’s magazine, a little over a year since it was announced that pictures of naked women would no longer feature.

A clutch of self-identifying feminists have contributed photos and writing to the magazine’s March/April #NakedIsNormal issue. One such woman is actor Scarlett Byrne, who was probably best known – until now – for playing Draco Malfoy’s girlfriend Pansy Parkinson in the Harry Potter movies.

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Scarlett Byrne with her fiancé, Cooper Hefner, at the Playboy Mansion in 2015.

Byrne, who is engaged to Cooper Hefner, has written a short essay accompanying her nude shoot for the new Playboy. The “pictorial” is apparently titled ‘The Feminist Mystique’, a play on the name of Betty Friedan’s seminal 1963 book The Feminine Mystique. 

Her essay explores “the importance of owning female sexuality and the double standards that still exist between women and men”, according to the magazine.


Read more: Has feminism become all brand and no substance?


Posting a shot from her Playboy shoot on Instagram, Byrne thanked Playboy’s creative team and her fiancé for “such a unique opportunity”.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the March/April issue of Playboy,” she wrote, adding: “Naked is normal.”

Playboy’s US owners announced that they would stop publishing images of naked women in October 2015, citing dwindling sales and the ready availability of pornography online.


Read more: Why the porn industry needs to wake up to female desires


“You’re now just one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” said the magazine’s chief executive, Scott Flanders. “And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

Flanders left the company in May 2016, with founder Hugh Hefner’s 25-year-old son taking over his father’s role as chief creative officer five months later. Now, Hefner the younger says that the decision to cut nudity was the wrong one.

“I’ll be the first to admit that the way in which [Playboy] portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake,” he wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

“Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”

Images: Rex Features

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