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An Open Letter to the Playboy Body Shamer

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14:  2015 Playmate of the Year Dani Mathers gets ready for Playboy’s 2015 Playmate of the Year Ceremony at the Playboy Mansion on May 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)
Photograph by Getty Images for Playboy

This letter is a response to a recent incident in which Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers took a nude photo of a woman in the locker room at her gym and posted it on Snapchat with the caption “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”

Dear Dani Mathers,

Four days ago, I had never heard of you. Now, I'm sitting at my computer looking at the hundreds of images of your naked body that will exist on the internet forever. You sprawl on sandy beaches and across the hoods of cars. You writhe on beds and couches, holding your round breasts. You bend over to show the camera your butt cheeks and labia. I wonder if you feel beautiful doing this?

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I wonder if you do this because you love the female body, as you claim, or if you do it because it’s what men want to see? The answer is entirely your business. But you made a choice to expose your naked body to the world, and four days ago you took that choice away from another woman. You body-shamed her. You publicly humiliated her. You violated her privacy. You broke the law by distributing the nude photo that you stealthily took without her knowledge. And you revealed a callous, ugly side to your character that your thousands of social media followers rightly found appalling.

What do you think has outraged so many of your fans? Is it your juvenile, mean girl cruelty? Your evident disgust at an older woman’s body, one that someday yours will certainly resemble? Is it your participation in a culture of fat-shaming that says it’s okay to laugh at and judge bodies that don’t fit your idea of perfection?

Your non-apology only convinced me that this can’t be the first time you have taken a photo like this. It’s only the first time you got caught.

Maybe it was your stunningly inadequate “apology.” The subsequent videos where you described the photo as “accidental” and pleaded Snapchat ignorance, claiming you meant to share it privately with a girlfriend. Can you explain how this should cast you in a better light? Would secretly giggling over this unsuspecting woman with your friend be somehow less repulsive than publicly ridiculing her? Your non-apology only convinced me that this can’t be the first time you have taken a photo like this. It’s only the first time you got caught.

Clearly, you are already facing consequences. I applaud KLOS 95.5 for suspending you indefinitely from the “Heidi and Frank” radio show, and I hope the LAPD investigation finds enough evidence to prosecute you for your crime. You have stated that you will now take some time to reflect on why you did this horrible thing. I hope you do.

But as a woman and a mother, I'm reflecting too. I’m thinking about the weight-obsessed culture in which my daughter will grow up and how she will view her own body, whatever it may look like.

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There are rumors that you have altered your body with plastic surgery. This is also your business. But I wonder if some of your hatred toward another woman’s body springs from hating your own. Did you look in the mirror and see breasts that were not big enough? Lips that were not full enough? A nose you couldn’t stand? I hope not. Because no one should have to feel that way.

My daughter has never seen Playboy. She has yet to learn about sex or the objectification of women. I hope someday she'll decide for herself what is sexy. I hope she'll love her body for its strength, power, and beauty, whatever size it may be. I hope she'll learn this from watching me.

When your physical beauty has faded, this photo will still be there to remind you of the person you used to be. I hope by then you have the decency to feel ashamed.

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