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Thirty-three years ago I shed my clothes for Playboy. At the time, I could not have imagined that those images, which I thought would remain between the covers of a magazine, would someday appear online. In 1986, the Internet -–as we know it today–did not exist.  While I was thrilled to be featured in Playboy, I wasn’t prepared for the day that the pictures would be out there for all to see.

I first came across my Playboy photos online, nearly ten years after I had written about the experience in my 2003 memoir, Grave Undertakings. Mustering up the courage to click onto one of the sites, I was met with dated images of myself. In the days of big hair, mine was dyed black, permed, and teased into a frothy mane. My lips and nails were red, and I was very skinny. My first thought was that these photos bore little resemblance to how I look today. Like prom photos, they evoke an era in my life that was long past.

Posing for Playboy Magazine was not something I had aspired to, but when I was approached there was no question about whether or not I would agree to pose. After all, how many women ever get the opportunity to be featured in a world famous magazine? The lure to experience as much of life as I could, while I was young, was a powerful attraction. As many women had been before me, I was swept away by the fantasy.

 At the time the photos were taken, I young and adventurous, with little thought to the long-term impact of appearing nude between the pages of a magazine. Sure, people could see the photographs, but only if they bought the issue. Thousands of girls had graced the pages of Playboy over the years and all but a few have been forgotten. I was sure that I, too, would fade into oblivion after my proverbial 15 minutes of fame were over.

Seeing these photos after so many years made me think about the experience anew. Moreover, it forced me to confront aging in a way the majority of women don’t have to. After all, this wasn’t just my private comparison; my younger self had been publicly displayed for the world to see. I thought of the many websites inviting viewers to see photos of models and actresses “when they were hot,” along with the flood of unkind comments that followed. Would it be that way for me now?

Don’t get me wrong: Posing for Playboy was a thrill and an economic shot in the arm. And while it did not make me famous or a celebrity for the rest of my life, the experience afforded me the opportunity to travel and meet people I never would have met otherwise– I was even a Jeopardy question. But now those widely circulating pictures are wildly at odds with my mature life and cerebral pursuit of being a good writer. The days since my Playboy experience have been rich with intellectual and spiritual growth, as well as achievement. In that time, I realized my lifelong dream of becoming a published author with three books and numerous articles to my credit

What’s more, while I was honored to be among the many beautiful women who have been featured in the magazine my view of beauty has changed with time.  I’ve come to see that real beauty is indeed more than skin deep. It is not just reflected in the perfect skin and taut bodies of youth, but in a passion for living. Indeed, I feel it is a woman’s passion for life that makes her the most beautiful. 

Today my role models are Lyn Slater, Iris Apfel, the late Cindy Joseph, and the scores of women whose beauty and intelligence have transcended time. Gray hair, fine lines, and a body that’s not as toned as it once was tell the world we have lived a rich life. From that perspective, I see that true beauty emanates from the soul and is ageless and timeless.

As for me, I feel far more comfortable in my own skin now. Still comparisons are inevitable.  I realize the thing to do is to own my Playboy experience and keep it in perspective as I continue unabashedly on my journey to fulfillment.

Author Bio:

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca is a writer based in New York.  She is the author of three books: Grave Undertakings, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Gardens of Stone and has contributed articles to Newsday, New York Daily News, The Saturday Evening Post and funeral industry publications. For more information, visit her website: www.alexandramosca.com

Midlife Reflections on Posing Nude For Playboy was last modified: by

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