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Thinness and body shape of Playboy centerfolds from 1978 to 1998


OBJECTIVE: Changes in the body weight and shape of Playboy centerfolds over the past two decades (1978–1998) were examined.

METHODS: The body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip circumference ratio (WHR) were obtained from measurements reported by 240 centerfolds (ages 19–35 y).

RESULTS: The 20-y averages (mean±s.d.) were 18.1±0.8 kg/m2 for BMI and 0.68±0.03 for WHR, and there has been no appreciable change in either BMI or WHR in centerfolds over the past 20 y. Based on current recommendations for the classification of underweight (BMI<18.5 kg/m2), 70% of the centerfolds were underweight. Further, 77.5% of the centerfolds were <85% of their ideal body weight.

CONCLUSION: Given the perception of Playboy centerfolds as culturally ‘ideal’ women, the notion that 70% of them are underweight highlights the social pressures on women to be thin and helps to explain the high levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among women.

International Journal of Obesity (2001) 25, 590–592

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The authors wish to thank Roy Katzmarzyk for help with data collection and management.

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Katzmarzyk, P., Davis, C. Thinness and body shape of Playboy centerfolds from 1978 to 1998. Int J Obes 25, 590–592 (2001).

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  • underweight
  • disordered eating
  • body mass index
  • waist-to-hip ratio
  • curvaceousness

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