6 Empowering Celebs Who Posed For 'Playboy' & Shut Down Any Negative Stereotypes

Is posing naked for Playboy an act of empowerment, one that should draw feminists from every corner of the globe? Or is it nothing more than removing your clothing, showing off your curves, and providing more fantasy material for men who are looking to get off? The great Playboy debate isn't about to be resolved any time soon, but there are still plenty of women, including celebrities and models, who have shed their clothing for Playboy while also being super empowering.

You might say the mere act of choosing to take off your shirt — of choosing to show your body under your own terms (and of choosing to profit from it in a way that could help put your kids through college) is feminist because these women are making their own decision to be seen in Playboy. There are far too many counterarguments and neutral positions on the topic, including a great one taken by Kat Stoeffel at The Cut that Playboy is the last thing a feminist needs to worry about because, given the fact that we live in a tech society that dishes out hardcore porn at the touch of a key, it doesn't provide quite the same shock value it once did.

As for the six celebs below who posed for Playboy, they either consider themselves feminists or an argument could easily be made for why they are feminist, or at least empowering, figures.

1. Madonna

Madonna is a feminist icon who has always enjoyed toying with our notions of femininity — of what women should and shouldn't do in proper society. But, more importantly, she is outspoken about the struggles all women face — that even she continues to face — because, as she revealed in Out magazine in March 2015, quite a few misguided people continue to question whether she produces her own music (and whether a man isn't actually steering the ship). “Women are still the most marginalized group,” Madonna told Out. “They’re still the group that people won’t let change. You’re still categorized — you’re still either a virgin or a whore. If you’re a certain age, you’re not allowed to express your sexuality, be single, or date younger men.” Madonna posed for Playboy in September 1985.

2. Kate Moss

Some people might believe that supermodels can't be categorized as "feminists" because part of their job requires that they meet an unrealistic beauty standard that has been screwing with women since time immemorial. Here's why Kate Moss is different: When she started modeling, her body was the complete opposite of the '90s ideal, which was curvy and bodacious babes, à la Cindy Crawford. She didn't rush out and buy C-cup implants, nor does she care about nudity. The fact that she was chosen as Playboy's 60th anniversary cover girl speaks volumes about the more modern and natural direction the publication wishes to take — and confident Moss is an example of a woman who stayed true to herself.

3. Olivia Munn

The Daily Show correspondent and actress posed for the mag in July/August 2009, years before she proved she is a lot more of a badass than people probably give her credit for. When the biggest scandal of her career occurred in 2012 — Munn was hacked and NSFW photos of her were released that featured some very racy messages she reportedly sent to her then-boyfriend Chris Pine, she handled it in a very bold way: by joking about it on Twitter. Her message was crystal clear: I'm not going to apologize for being a woman who loves sex and isn't ashamed of her sexuality.

4. Joanna Krupa

The Real Housewives of Miami star, who was a cover girl in December 2009, may not be considered a feminist role model, but she was vocal about her belief that posing naked is an empowering thing to do and that "so-called" feminists who criticized her decision were flawed in their thinking. In an interview with Fox News, Krupa said,

I think they suffer from lack of knowledge and tunnel vision. How many of those self-important, so-called ‘feminists’ have been on the set when a celebrity shot a Playboy spread? There you go. What is feminist about discriminating a photo shoot just because it involves female (partial) nudity that happens to give men pleasure? Pathetic. There are several great reasons why female celebs line up to shoot Playboy: finally a woman gets paid more than a man for comparable work, she gets to set the rules, gets to be in a real team work with other women, as many key positions at Playboy are in fact held by women! She brings in her creative ideas, gets involved in the photo selection and ends up with something she co-created through and through.

5. Dita Von Teese

The most famous burlesque dancer in recent times is certainly not afraid of taking off her clothing, but Dita Von Teese is also quick to make the connection between choice and feminism, as she told Bustle. When asked whether she was a feminist she said, "It's difficult to say, because everyone has a different view of what feminism is. From my point of view, it's really about being able to do what you want, and being able to make whatever choice you want, so that's how I see it. I don’t think we should be dictating to anyone what the feminist movement is." Von Teese was Playboy's December 2002 cover girl.

6. Pamela Anderson

Most women who grew up in the 1990s probably find it impossible to use "feminist" and "Pamela Anderson" in the same sentence, but the Baywatch actress considers herself a feminist. In an exclusive interview with BuzzFeed, Anderson was straight-up asked if she considers herself a feminist. Here's what she said: "I do, actually. I do. I think I’m in control of what I do and what I’ve done. I think that’s the ultimate feminine power. Do as you want. Be who you want to be, and not for anybody else. As days go by, women are more and more empowered." Case closed.

Women have been fighting for the right to pick and choose how they represent themselves — these ladies make a strong argument that Playboy is a vehicle that allows women to do just that.

Images: Playboy (6)