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Playboy centrefolds and eating disorders - from male pleasure to female pathology?

Christopher Paul Szabo


Objective. To highlight a potential environmental risk factor promoting the development of eating disorders.
Design. A retrospective analysis of calculated body mass indices of Playboy centrefolds.
Setting. South African editions of Playboy magazine.
Subjects. Playboy centrefolds, February 1994 February
Outcome measure. Body mass index.
Results. Of surveyed centrefolds, 72% achieved a body mass index under 18, implying undernourishment.
Conclusions. Body mass indices calculated on the basis of stated weights and heights of Playboy centrefolds reveal the majority to be technically undernourished, which is clearly not so on inspection of the centrefolds. The body dimension data in such magazines should be treated with circumspection. Acceptance of the validity of such data may create the erroneous impression that undernourishment is desirable. This notion may have an impact on self-perception and dieting behaviour in certain individuaJs, precipitating and promoting disturbed eating attitudes and behaviour that may lead to the onset of eating disorders.