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I have Reese Witherspoon to thank for properly introducing me to the Playboy Bunny.
Technically, the movie that witnessed her dressed as one premiered in 2001. But who can remember the specifics of that first broadcast? Not me! Given that I’ve now spent somewhere in the vicinity of several days of my life reliving it, the details of such an auspicious viewing have since gone slightly fuzzy. Like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before it, Legally Blonde endeared itself to me instantly. It chronicled an engaging story, defended sequins as daywear, and justified its heroine’s near-encyclopedic knowledge of hair care. (An innocent woman’s acquittal depended on it!) Also, it briefly paraded its protagonist around Harvard’s campus in a pink, satin leotard.
In the unlikely event that you do not want to relive this timeless cinematic moment care of a short video shared by YouTube user “playboybunnybabes,” allow me to summarize the incident. In a misguided attempt to befriend Vivian Kensington and her anonymous, vaguely insufferable sidekick, first-year law student Elle Woods attends a gathering of fellow grads wearing a baby blush corset, fuchsia tights, and floppy ears. Pinned to her ass, a fluffy pom-pom completes the look.
Inside “45 Dunston Street,” not a single other person has dressed in costume. An only marginally more tolerable version of arriving at school in your underwear, the scene remains as deeply mortifying to me now as it did over a decade ago. It may have prompted her to “show you how valuable Elle Woods can be,” but I still cringe at the spectacle of Witherspoon attempting to assert herself as a bright-eyed and literally bushy-tailed blonde. “What is she wearing?” I remember exclaiming in horror. As far as I was concerned, the outfit’s exploitative undertones were the least of its problems. More damning even than its implicit sexism was its essential pitifulness. “She looks so pathetic!” I wailed. I ask you: does any ensemble try so hard as a Playboy Bunny’s?
Take a second to remember the girl who wore one to your last Halloween party.
Still, the fact that we agree (we agree, don’t we?) does little to account for the images of Kate Moss that debuted earlier this week. Fronting the 60th anniversary edition of Playboy magazine, the supermodel graces Playboy’s December/January 2014 cover in a midnight black bustier, Saint Laurent pumps, and, of course, a pair of velveteen ears. The same appendages reappear throughout the accompanying eighteen-page spread which finds Moss lounging on brocade sofas, reclining in sheer thigh-highs, and implicitly reminding us just how much pie we all consumed at Thanksgiving dinner. In other words, Moss oozes her usual brand of good-old-fashioned sex appeal.
But not even the lethal combination of her hypnotic gaze, chiseled cheekbones, and imminent fortieth birthday can separate these photographs from their form. The abundance of silk bed sheets does not lie. This is Playboy.
Moss’s body is a wonderland and her evident confidence is impressive. Perhaps if I looked that good in French cuffs, I, too, would wear them to the exclusion of all else. And yet I can’t quite shake the feeling that Kate Moss is — as Elle Woods once was —dressed for the wrong party, and also for the wrong magazine. How would our opinions differ had this been not the cover of Playboy but instead of, say, French Vogue? Is this just a loose case of blinded by the label? Or am I simply not the target consumer?
After all, I read Playboy for the articles. What do you think? View the full (NSFW) spread here and let’s talk about it.
Images from the Playboy 60th Anniversary Issue, shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott