Picture this...you are applying for a job for which you know that you're perfect. It is unthinkable that your experience, your high grades, and your real interest in the company could be disregarded. Yet, as the decision is made, somehow, you are looked over. Why? The answer has nothing to do with your college education and everything to do with your college behavior - you posed for Playboy, and now your job market will be forever limited.
The above scenario is every Yalie's worst nightmare - being rejected just because of one stupid, rash college prank. You know that you would never make the same mistake twice if you had the chance. Alright, so I did pose for Playboy. Do I feel that one day the above scenario will apply to me? No. You might ask, "Why not?" Do I have career plans that allow for borderline behavior and overlook my indiscretions? Well, originally I did. I had planned to spend my life doing anthropological research on sex; thus, Playboy may have even enhanced my career. But now? Now, among other options, I am considering law, obviously a less-forgiving field.
So why do I still consider posing for Playboy to have been the right move for me? What I have learned this summer in the face of this scandal has taught me more about myself and the others around me than I could ever have learned by sticking to my role as the sweet little girl next door. I spent my summer in the heart of the Bible Belt - southern Oklahoma. Of course every one with whom I worked had either seen the Glamour article (concerning my decision to pose despite the protests at Yale) or knew someone who had. The news was out that the nice girl who went all the way up North, all the way to Yale, had become uninhibited enough to pose in Playboy.
And trust me, every one had an opinion. Of course, the popular responses fell along expected lines. I was reminded of people's disapproval by the averted looks as I stood in line at the grocery store, by the whispers of the young boys who played with my little brother, by my coworkers who avoided talking with me.
However, in addition to the expected criticism, I also received surprisingly widespread support. I was amazed by how many women in my community admired my courage to defy the norm in such a repressive environment. They took me aside to whisper words of encouragement, wishing to also to challenge the establishment and win. I had friends who completely disregarded their own conservative convictions as they recognized how determined I was and chose to support a cause in which I so strongly believed. I saw the stunned approval of the teenage boys who were immediately intimidated by, yet impressed with, a strong Southern woman. I was impressed with the number of students here at Yale who personally supported my courage in pursuing my aspirations, even though they also were leading protest movements against Playboy and pornography in general.
But I have also encountered negatives for which I was unprepared. I never imagined that I would have strange men calling me at all times of the night to tell me that I have nice breasts, or that my friends who live in my old room would receive calls from guys asking for my number. I didn't expect to have Yale alumni members calling to ask me about my reasons for posing. I didn't realize that even though I posed for myself, many other people think that I posed for them and don't seem to mind exerting their rights by calling me for comments or questions.
In this often hostile environment, I was forced to develop a very firm grasp on my emotions and the purpose for my actions. I now believe that the feminist sentiment "my body, my choice" should apply to all women at all times, and not just when there is a movement to support it. I would never exchange the many awkward situations that I experienced because of Playboy for the insight I gained. Through these situations, I have learned so much about the Oklahoma culture in which I spent my early years.
So do I believe that my future might be affected by posing for Playboy? Yes, I believe that it will. But, it has made a positive contribution to my life - I gained a sense of self-reliance which I lacked before the posing scandal. Yes, it was fun to have my five minutes of fame both on the Yale campus and on the national scene. It is a nice little boost to the ego to know that some people consider me to be attractive enough to be in Playboy. But of course I know now, and I knew when I first chose to pose, that these benefits will fade, and they will only be remembered by a few people searching through dusty archives. However, posing for Playboy has permanently changed me by making me think a little bit differently about myself - I'm now more of a risk-taker, fear social approval less, and know a bit more about what I'm capable of. I may never do something this controversial again, but it's nice to know that I could and did.
Amy Nabors, SM '97, is an anthropology major.
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