by Dominique Jane Sharpe | July 23, 2013
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In the not-so-distant past, if someone had ever told me I would become a Playboy Playmate, I would have laughed harder than the always-giggling Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett used to on The Girls Next Door.
I was a fan of that E! series, sucked into the glamorous-yet-surreal world of Hugh Hefner‘s girls, Kendra, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. But I hardly looked anything like them or other Playboy models. Those women typically had an overall voluptuous shape that has never resembled me.
First of all, I am a redhead (insert ginger joke here). And with a thin frame and a butt that no one has ever called very round, I am not at all a so-called “curvy” girl. I’m a B cup, which pretty much has placed me in the “flat” category when it came to centerfold-type girls.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not asking for sympathy.
In fact, my body type and more natural appearance have allowed me to work as a professional model for the last 10 years. I have appeared in music videos for Rod Stewart and other artists, toured as a dancer with Kanye West, and have been shot by top photographers and featured in top fashion magazines. Society has hardly regarded me as an ugly ducking.
But women who look like me historically haven’t been the ones hired for nude “sex symbol” shoots like in Playboy. The standard of that brand of beauty for as long as I can remember never looked like me—or like 99 percent of my friends. Sadly, I think that’s why so many young women over the last couple decades have resorted to surgery in an effort to attain a look that just isn’t very realistic. The media sends a message to women (even in a subconscious way) when it holds up a certain look as beautiful or sexy. It messes with your mind, big time.
I don’t judge poorly on people who get implants. If that makes you feel more beautiful, more power to you. Some women look great. But that has never been me.
Okay, I have to admit that I have considered getting work done. Maybe I could plump my lips a little. Maybe I would look sexier with a C cup. A little botox might prolong my modeling career. But I have not altered myself. I have resisted the pressures and taken the position that if I can’t get modeling jobs by just being the best natural version of myself, then I won’t do it anymore. Sure, I try to eat healthy and work out regularly (especially before a big shoot like Playboy), but I have never wanted to be something I am not.
I also never aspired to pose nude. In fact, one of my first experiences in modeling came when I was brought on as a client of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. I was fresh out of college and Janice wanted me to pose nude. I refused. Half my family lived in Ireland and were very conservative. I didn’t want to freak them out. Plus, I just didn’t have the confidence yet to bare myself in that extreme kind of way.
I was, in a word, insecure.
And in talking to a lot of my friends and followers on social media, I have found that a lot of young women feel similarly insecure about their bodies. They think they are too skinny, too fat, too pale, too flat, too whatever. And that’s such a shame. We should celebrate our bodies, no matter what “type” they fit into. I feel very strongly about this, because I have lived this fight.
That’s why when earlier this year the people at Playboyasked my agent if I would accept their offer to be Miss August I had very little hesitation before saying yes. My only condition was that I would do it entirely natural. There would be no plumping, no injecting, no augmenting, no altering myself. I wouldn’t even dye my hair. Speaking of hair, I also made the decision to not go totally bare “down there.” I wanted to look natural, to be myself. And if that meant bucking the 100-percent waxed trend, then so be it!
I have looked back at issues of Playboy from the 1960s and ’70s and those models reflected a more natural, diverse look than what became the standard over the next few decades. But I’ve since realized that Hef (who, by the way, is such a sweet man) and the magazine more recently have made a concerted effort to feature Playmates with a more “God-given gorgeous” look.
So maybe my appearance in Playboy reflects some sort of cultural shift. Maybe the definition of what’s considered sexy and feminine is being broadened. Maybe we are in a New World of Beauty where women as different looking as Kim Kardashian and myself can be viewed as sex symbols. If so, I’m proud to be a part of that movement.
In the days since my issue went public, I have seen people say I look like a “girl next door.” I take that as a compliment, and so should every woman out there. We are all girls next door. I am just glad that more beauty doors are opening for us to confidently walk through.
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