Playboy continues to push boundaries, even after Hugh Hefner, the magazine’s iconic but complicated founder, died last month.
The latest example? Meet Ines Rau.
Rau, 26, is Playboy’s first transgender Playmate. She’ll be featured in the Nov./Dec. 2017 issue, but it won’t be her first time in Playboy.
She was photographed nude for the magazine in 2014, in a spread called “Evolution,” whose accompanying copy examined “humanity’s halting shift toward acceptance of gender identities beyond the male-female binary,” according to a Playboy release.
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The move also comes after a shift, then a recalibration in policy, from doing away completely with full-frontal nude photos in 2016, to putting some nudes back in circulation earlier this year. Under Hefner’s son and current chief creative officer Cooper Hefner, Playboy’s longtime tagline “Entertainment for Men” has been adjusted to read “Entertainment for All.”
Featuring Rau is just the kind of move toward greater inclusiveness that the younger Hefner is employing to reinvigorate the brand after his father’s death and years of shrinking annual circulation numbers.
She told Playboy she saw her first shoot for the magazine as her coming-out celebration. Since then, she has starred in a Balmain campaign, in couture fashion shows and in “Vogue Italia” – all that while using her platform, which includes more than 240,000 followers on Instagram, to advocate for environmental issues and the LGBTQ community. She told Playboy she wanted to eventually use her boxing and kickboxing chops in an action movie one day.
Not every model featured in Playboy, nude or not, becomes known as a Playmate. Only those who are featured in the magazine’s centerfold feature get that distinction.
The response to Rau’s gender identity and her inclusion in Playboy was met with a reaction predictably split along political lines on Twitter following the announcement Wednesday.
“When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood,” Rau told Playboy. “And now everything happening gives me so much joy and happiness, I thought, ‘Am I really going to be a Playmate? Me?’ It’s the most beautiful compliment I’ve ever received. It’s like getting a giant bouquet of roses.”