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Pamela Anderson: an example of fake femininity

The January 2007 special holiday issue of Playboy magazine features Pamela Anderson on the cover.  Small versions of her images in this magazine are shown below since they are of educational value when it comes to showing some deceptive techniques used to portray unfeminine women as glamorous and market them to heterosexual men.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson

Note that Pamela's backside is not shown, which is surely not due to any need for conservatism given that three of her pictures show part of her labia.  This should not be surprising given that her backside is flattened.  Her shoulder width is also not clear in any of the photographs, but then she has broad shoulders (note also manly hands).

One of the pictures is shown in a larger version below, and it is surprising that Playboy showed it since it clearly illustrates the absence of an hourglass figure in Pamela Anderson in spite of her massive breast implants.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson has been described as the sex symbol of the 1990s.  If there is no mainstream appreciation of feminine beauty and top-ranked female models, who are typically fashion models, are masculinized women, then using deceptive techniques, an unfeminine woman like Pamela Anderson could be marketed to heterosexual men as glamorous.  This would be unlikely if the masses were better educated about what constitutes feminine beauty.



A comparison should have been included above, but here it is.

The woman shown is Sheila Grant from Twistys.

Sheila Grant is not particularly feminine, but contrast her waist-hip proportions with Pamela Anderson’s and also note Sheila’s feminine backside; Sheila also has natural breasts.

Sheila Grant from Twistys

Sheila Grant from Twistys

-Should women with the facial and body features you describe in this website as masculine feel inadequate to the women you that you characterize as feminine?

-This website is just your point of view right?

Pamela Anderson has always been a caricature to me, overblown to an appalling extent but obviously appealing to men on some level (chest level perhaps?). I know that Playboy is supposed to be representing the "fantasy" but can bolted-on fake breasts that don't fit with the rest of someone's body be that fantasy?

I guess I wonder why Playboy, which is supposed to be a high-class publication with the ability to pick and chose among the best looking women in the world, doesn't ONLY feature women who are naturally large breasted (since large breasts are obviously crucial to their formula). A naturally large breasted women would no doubt also have a curvier build overall than Pamela Anderson or many of the models they feature. I have nothing against breast implants per se, I just don't think they represent the best in female attractiveness or beauty, which Playboy purports to represent.

I never thought Pamela was attractive I couldn't pin point why.

Breast implants are ugly and don't jiggle. Natural breast are much more attractive.

Tamry this website is reality, concerning feminine beauty. Not all women will be perfectly feminine like all men will not be 6'2 tall and look like Brad Pitt. I'm short so I'm screwed when it comes to love but life goes on. Women will more readily show me their true character so it's not all bad. Most men have to wait till the new of marriage wears off to see what I see upon first meeting.

I honestly don't think that "deceptive tricks" or a "lack of education" are being used to make men think Pam is sexy; no one's being brainwashed here. Perhaps others just aren't so critical or analytical of a woman's body shape. Not every chick can have huge natural breasts or an hourglass figure or whatever. But then again, if a girl doesn't get implants, then she is totally ignored by a business that she could otherwise be successful in. I'm not promoting surgery or anything, but it seems that you are implying that "masculine" women are in a lose-lose situation. They aren't. "Masculine" women will still find loving partners, thankfully ones that aren't as critical as you.

Tamry: The intent of this site is not to make some women feel inadequate to others, but to promote feminine beauty, among other things. There are scenarios where feminine beauty is required, in accordance with the preferences of most people, but masculinized women are used instead. Pointing out the inappropriateness of such occurrences requires that the masculinization in the looks of masculinized women being portrayed as sexy be pointed out and contrasted with examples of feminine beauty.

On a personal level, if a woman likes how she looks, then she should consider herself to be good looking regardless of what this site or anyone else says. If a woman doesn’t like her looks, she can attempt to change a few things and hopefully accept what she cannot change.

A strong aesthetic preference for above average femininity in the looks of women is not just my preference, but also that of most men and women.

Sandy: Playboy’s centerfolds in recent years have also struck me as strange. A brief background is relevant here. The magazine started in the 1950s in the U.S., i.e., it had a head start, and went on to becoming internationally famous. I will be talking about the U.S. edition. The magazine features artistic nudity; there is nothing pornographic about it, which makes it socially acceptable to many people. Playboy’s circulation today is around 10-11 million, and the company has diversified, selling fashion merchandize, videos and operating a TV network. Playboy Inc. is obviously in a position to attract a large number of women willing to pose nude and then select fine examples of feminine beauty among them, but in recent years its centerfolds have often been masculinized women with fake breasts. Playboy models were often feminine in its early years, but from somewhere during the 1960s, the centerfolds started becoming increasing masculinized. Strange, isn’t it? I will be adding some 1960s Playboy centerfolds such as Maria McBane and Gloria Root to the attractive women section shortly, but, with rare exceptions, cannot bring myself to put 1990s-onward centerfolds in this section.

This issue came up in a comments thread in the first blog entry, and I addressed it as follows. Increasing masculinization from the 1960s onward is observable among both Playboy centerfolds and Miss America pageant contestants; data in terms of waist-to-hip ratios has been presented on the “eating disorders” page. The most obvious explanation is that this masculinization coincides with and appears to be a trickle-down effect of the increasing masculinization and slenderness of the highest status models, i.e., high-fashion models, courtesy of the increased freedom available to gay fashion designers.

However, whereas the increased masculinization of Miss America contestants is readily explicable, it is not so clear why a corresponding increase in masculinization should be seen in a publication targeting heterosexual men. One can assume that partly influenced by increasingly masculinized and slender high-fashion models, and its own gravitation toward selling fashion merchandize, Playboy Inc. brought its centerfolds closer to fashion models to be more compliant with fashion industry norms, but not to an extent that heterosexual men start losing interest, and has made up for the masculinization with posing tricks and using women with breast implants. Since there is no mainstream appreciation of feminine beauty, Playboy Inc. could easily get away with fake femininity. Indeed, a woman like Pamela Anderson became the 1990s sex symbol!

The above is what I posted earlier, but I came across some interesting information later. An ex-Playmate-wanabee, Jill Ann Spaulding, wrote a damning exposé of Hugh Hefner, Playboy’s founder, after living at his mansion, and I will mention some of the allegations. According to Spaulding, Hugh Hefner exercises ultimate control over who gets to be a centerfold. A number of women have ended up as Playmates only after sleeping with Hefner, and although the votes of the readership are supposed to largely determine who becomes Playmate of the year (PMOY), a Playmate who hasn’t slept with Hefner has little chance of becoming a PMOY. Jill Ann Spaulding has also alleged that Hefner indulges in unprotected sex, including anal sex, with his girlfriends and likes to watch gay porn while having sex with his girlfriends.

Let us assume that all of Spaulding’s allegations are true and then see how well they explain the looks of Playboy’s centerfolds. One would expect not-so-attractive women with few options for using their looks for success to be willing to sleep with an old man, thereby effectively prostituting themselves. Not-so-attractive women indeed abound among the centerfolds over the past couple of decades during which Hefner has been so old that young women would only be willing to sleep with him in exchange for money/becoming centerfolds. If there is a homosexual component to Hefner’s attractions, then this would partly explain the excessive masculinization -- from a discerning heterosexual male perspective -- among many centerfolds; part of the explanation will also include the lower willingness of feminine women to prostitute themselves and hence their paucity among Hefner’s girlfriends. One could then ask if indeed Hefner’s preferences are shifted toward the masculine, then how come the earlier Playmates were more feminine? Here, one could assume that in the earlier years, when Playboy magazine was establishing itself, it would have been more appropriate to comply with the more feminine model norms then. Alternatively, some people experience erotic target shifts during their lifetimes, and it is possible for Hefner to have shifted toward more masculinized norms as he aged.

Of course, it is difficult to assess how many of Jill Ann Spaulding’s allegations are true. The allegation that Hefner has continued to have sex with multiple young girlfriends is almost certainly true. The allegation that some women have become Playmates or PMOY only after sleeping with Hefner is likely true. I do not know whether the gay porn allegation is true.

Anyway, to sum, there are numerous potential reasons that explain the fake femininity and otherwise unimpressive looks that are too common among Playboy models in recent years: 1) a trickle-down effect of the high status of skinny and masculine fashion models over the years, 2) Playboy’s gravitation toward selling fashion merchandize and a corresponding change in its models to be more compliant with fashion industry norms, 3) a homosexual component to Hefner’s attractions, and 4) Hefner obliged to let his not-so-impressive girlfriends end up as centerfolds in exchange for their sexual services.

Whatever combination of these reasons holds true, the more important point is that Hefner is able to get away with his choice of centerfold models because there is no mainstream appreciation of feminine beauty; there are no alternatives; many people don’t know any better. Time for things to change.

Update; posted May 5, 2005: For the ultimate on Hefner, see this entry, which clarifies the explanation offered here.

Haruhi: You ignore obvious examples of deception in the pictures: fake breasts, not showing Pamela’s backside, hiding Pamela’s shoulder breadth, etc. Indeed, no one is being brainwashed; brainwashing is a non-phenomenon to start with. The issue is not being analytical/critical of a woman’s body shape, but addressing the looks of an international sex symbol who is not feminine.

The very fact that posing tricks and fake breasts are required to make Pamela Anderson palatable and appealing to heterosexual men prompts the question why not use a naturally large-breasted feminine and attractive woman? One could surely find some such women.

What is this nonsense about masculine women being in a lose-lose situation? I have nothing against them; they just don’t need to be modeling in scenarios where feminine women are required.

Interesting site. I think you are addicted to porn and this is how you cover it up. Just kidding. In reality, there definitions of the body shapes are fairly arbitrary at their cut off points. It seems to me that what exists is a continueum from a hyper-masculine male body to a hyper-feminine female body. I am also interested in the role physical fitness plays--an hour glass shape can be lost to adipose tissue. I do believe some of your porn girls are misclassified as hour-glass figures when ther WHR is a little off.

Dan: Some physical variation does lie along a continuum. I don’t get the point about physical fitness. Physical fitness is not relevant to this site. Women who supposedly do not have an hourglass shape because of a large amount of adipose tissue will typically not have a skeletal frame consistent with an hourglass shape. There are very few “porn girls” here, and hourglass shapes are not strictly necessary for attractiveness, i.e., there is no problem if some of the attractive nude models do not have hourglass shapes as long as they are otherwise feminine and appealing.

Dan, given that this Erik Holland guy has a)links through to various porn sites with affiliate-style re-direction URLs like "" and b) google adwords on every page earning click-through revenue, the whole premise of this site has to be questions. This sounds like a porn-industry sting to me - a PR/marketing exercise much like the ones marketing agencies undertake all the time on behalf of other industries.

His bizarre and whining theories that the state of fashion is because of some bizarre gay conspiracy are also ludicrous - and smack of someone who has an anti-gay agenda.

Frankly, the whole premise of this site is psuedo- scientific eugenics-based twaddle, (note the copious references to serious works and ill-explained graphs and diagrams nicked from serious anthropology - without actual reference notes within the text).

Its probably an attempt to hijack some of the worthy topics of debate (eg. anorexia, female self-image), in the pursuit of a)click-thru revenue, and b)an extreme right-wing agenda.

By way of comparison, the Nazis condemed all modern art as 'entartete kunst' - degenerate art - see - because it didn't depict bucolic landscapes and 'german-looking' (ie. aryan) people going about herioic & legendary deeds. Sounds exactly like this 'Erik' person's raves about 'not feminine enough' and 'shouldn't be allowed to be a lingerie model' and 'this woman looks like a transexual'.

Make those points, fine, but don't come up with judgements about what should or should not 'be done about it'. That road leads to the gas chambers and de-huminisation of our brothers and sisters.

And no i'm not going to leave my e-mail address or URL - you're obviously a whacko.

Tycho: I am sure that the readers of this site are grateful to you for pointing out facts that have escaped their attention, namely the advertisements and the affiliate links. Oh, how smart of you to have figured out an ulterior motive to this site that has nothing to do with the express purpose of promoting feminine beauty!

Seriously, you are so retarded and insane that it is not worth responding to your comment, but I have to defend myself against smear.

Regarding the affiiliate links, I have previously responded to a similar comment, and here is the response again:


I am not affiliated with the porn industry, and many of the referenced adult-oriented sites are not porn sites. Why should I go through the trouble of spending hours looking up scientific literature and addressing it within this site when I could simply post, without using my actual name, more pictures of nude women, and uncensored ones at that, if earning commissions is the main motive of this site?

Identifying the source(s) of the images, if known, is a legal requirement since copyrighted images can only be displayed under the fair use provision or with explicit permission of the copyright holder, which is automatically granted to those who sign up as an affiliate. Therefore, it is almost a requirement to sign up as an affiliate in order to minimize the likelihood of legal problems over displaying copyrighted images. Additionally, the images displayed are usually not available to non-affiliates unless they join the site the images are taken from. Therefore, signing up as an affiliate is a necessity, regardless of the commission issue. The commission money from the sites providing the images also dovetails with the necessity of becoming an affiliate of these sites.

If I were paid to display some women here as attractive and did not explicitly state this, then you are looking at a conflict of interest similar to researchers reporting data from a drug trial without identifying that the drug manufacturer paid them to conduct the study. However, none of the sites that I am signed up as an affiliate with work in this manner. They pay a commission only if someone referred from this site joins them. Therefore, there is no need for me to explicitly state that I am an affiliate of a referenced site if this is the case. Even if I were paid to feature a particular model within this site, there is enough scientific data here to justify any claims I would make about her masculinity-femininity/attractiveness, i.e., you could not accuse me of saying that a given woman is attractive because I have been paid to say so.

It would be an easy matter to hide affiliate links, but I have made no attempt to do so. For instance, check out, a website claiming to fight for female beauty. This site has little in terms of written content, but features links to many websites—supposedly united in their fight for beauty—and these websites happen to sell nude photographs of women. The links to these websites from the superbeauty site are in the form:


Guess what “site=56” corresponds to? The “out.cgi” file contains the full affiliate link, which you cannot see. I could easily do this with all my affiliate links, but do not feel any need to do so. Your comment regarding an ulterior monetary motive would be more appropriate for the superbeauty site, but this site does not offer a facility for people to leave comments, and good luck getting an appropriate response from the site’s webmaster if you email him a comment about the monetary motive.

Something has to pay for running this site, just as it requires money to produce magazines or educate people in institutions of higher learning. Is it fair to argue that the ads in a magazine or the fact that it is not offered for free or that one has to pay tuition to attend college implies an ulterior monetary motive that has little to do with educating the public? The latter argument cannot be made without a careful analysis of content, which you have failed to provide. If the readers are not being asked to pay to read the site, then the money has to come from somewhere, such as advertisements.

Your analysis of this site’s content is beyond ridiculous. There is no argument about a “gay conspiracy” here, but one of gay aesthetic preferences dictating the norms among female high-fashion models. You have labeled this argument as bizarre and a whine but failed to argue against any of the evidence offered and not put forth an alternative explanation of the looks of high-fashion models. Your accusation of pseudo science is unjustified. There is nothing remotely related to eugenics here. Are the graphs and diagrams ill-explained? Don’t blame me for your ignorance and low IQ. Additionally, the citations to papers published in peer-reviewed journals are typically referenced in the text in terms of numbers in brackets, contrary to your assertion of no actual reference notes within the text, and the numbers point to the corresponding references at the bottom of the page.

Do you seriously believe I have an extreme right-wing agenda? How often do you see right wingers use nudity to further their agenda? Don’t bother citing Wikipedia for anything of a scholarly nature. It is an online resource that can typically be edited by a random internet user and hence is of no scholarly merit. The typical person dislikes some or the other form of art, and if the Nazis disliked some art forms, then they were surely no different from others in finding some art disagreeable. For instance, in the heyday of Christianity, most art was banned and the allowed art had to deal with Biblical themes. You could easily have drawn an analogy from Christendom, but you chose to bring in the Nazis instead, which is a very poor analogy since this site is not advocating a ban on the use of masculine fashion models. There are many kinds of models and they can flourish in their niches without any opposition from me. My interest is in seeing feminine beauty where it is needed, as in a beauty pageant catering to the general public, and in establishing at least one mainstream outlet for feminine beauty appreciation (which will not be this site).

Your argument that some recommendations within this site are the type that lead to the de-humanization of “our brothers and sisters” and gas chambers has a familiar ring to it. This usually comes from the depraved minds of Marxists, who have manifested their strong belief in the brotherhood of humankind by putting the Nazis to shame with respect to the number of people killed in order to make the world a “better place.”

If you wish to respond, leave a sane comment or it will be removed.

I find what you are saying here interesting and much of it I agree with - I came across the site while I was researching hormone levels in female maturation and how that affects fertility. I have one comment to add...I'm not sure if you mentioned this elsewhere in the site - but many professional high fashion models are teenage girls who haven't finished developing yet - hence the lanky out-of-proportion looking bodies. Many of these girls stop getting modeling work when their hips develop and broaden, and even though they are maintaining an extremely low BMI they are told they are "too fat" because their hip bones have become too wide for the sample clothes.
Oh, also I'm not sure why you classify high cheekbones as masculine. I understand that you're talking about mainly Western European traits here, but high cheekbones in women from most other parts of the world (Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Native Americans, etc.) seem to be pretty standard (and attractive), don't they?
Thanks for taking the time to read my comments, and once again, sorry if they are redundant.

I didn't actually intend to post the above comment on the Pamela Anderson page as it has more to do with the young high fashion models and nothing to do with Pamela. Sorry.

It is true that many high-fashion models are teenage girls, but people with the resources of modeling agencies would not have a problem finding teenage girls who look like girls rather those that lean toward boys in looks, but fashion designers are not looking for girly girls.

I have not classified high cheekbones as masculine, but noted that masculinization causes the cheekbones to be placed higher on the face. You appear to be confusing the height of the cheekbones with their sideways prominence given that you mention ethnic groups where the cheekbones are more horizontally prominent.

My teenage sister is a beautiful girl with soft, feminine facial features and a very low WHR, and a BMI of 20. She was always taking different kinds of diet pills, complaining about being fat and having wide hips and her boobs are too small (her only complaint that could possibly be justified as unattractive). She won't stop talking about how gorgeous the Victorias Secret models are (They're more flat chested than she is). Every time she pointed one out to me, I was unimpressed, she just thought I was trying to be macho. I haven't seen her in a few months, and it's apperently getting worse. She was just diagnosed with an eating disorder and put on an Prozac. Ugh. This sucks. There is an elephant in the room and it stinks to high heaven.I generally agree with your standard of beauty. It's important for girls to realize that you can't diet your way to attractiveness.

7up: I am sorry to hear about your sister. Please make her read this about eating disorders. Also make her go through correlates of beauty based on the preferences of most people, which are at odds with the thinness and masculinization of fashion models. A BMI of 20 is about optimal from a beauty perspective in women in Western societies.

Another thing about Pamela Anderson: as seen in the picture you posted larger, she has had her lower ribs removed to allow for a slimmer torso. It looks very unnatural. But I have to say I do understand the appeal she had when she still had her youth going for her.
I also think that many women want to resemble high fashion models because of their youthful looks often reminding women of their own younger days (especially before giving birth). Also a lot of women resent being looked at by men in a pure sexual way, which having a very feminine body with pronounced secondary sex characteristics and a feminine face (sorry, but it does give more of a dumb and "bimbo"-like impression) entails. A lot of especially revealing fashion can only look classy on slim, tall, althletic, small breasted women and looks thrashy and vulgar on extremely feminine women with large breasts, another point of envy. And while large breasts can be pulled of with the right proportions on a tall woman, a short woman most likely will look "fat" with unusually large breasts and is often reduces by men to just these. While this is of course beneficial for women who want to work in the business of being sexually appealing to men, it explains why alot of everyday women would prefer the body of a high fashion model.

Forget it Susie, fashion models look trashy just the same, they only look less human ,like corpses, or trannies in addition. It's just your imagination, they are classy in their own eyes, and those of their kind.

The article is discussing "fake femininity". I started to read because I was interested in notions about "natural" and "fake" and also in the idea of us (women) being happy with how we are and how we're made. The model you have chosen to represent "ideal femininity" as opposed to Pamela Anderson's style is clearly very pretty. however, I coudnt help but notice that she is not far from the sterotypical views of beauty either: she is blonde-haired which is bleached, also straight and long; she appears to have blue eyes, be a "twenty-something" year old, white and very "pinked up" with the pink accessories and make-up. So very typical to stereotypical "beauty". Most people are not like this: even the model has had her hair treated with bleach in order to conform to the sterotype. She also has the large breasts and a vacant facial expression that portrays little except general sterotypical ideas about beauty and availability for sex devoid of any personal voice or character. So for me I would never aspire to this: I am not blonde and do not wish to be! Or white, etc. In the article the aim is to try to "redifine" feminity in a way which is not a million miles from, well is actually more or less the same as the usual, finding new ways to "judge" women on a one-dimensional way which is impossible for all of us as we cannot easily, i.e, add hips etc to match those very precise mathematical, rather cold and unforgiving proportions as acceptable standards. I think to go much further than this and be more helpful, from my point of view, it is good when men want to interact with women, encouraging them to aspire to be happy, healthy, 'real'. Also to accept themselves for what they are without any fakery, look after themselves, be mature enough to challenge others including men themselves who live in a diverse society that if they wish to have open, honest, fair, real authentic relationships with women, platonic or otherwise why not love, respect and accept them for what they are?

I don't see the point behind this post or website. You're obviously a woman, do you have issues with your own self-esteem? It seems like you've created this website just to convince other people (and yourself?) about femininity. You're bashing Pam Anderson and comparing her to a girl who weighs 30-35 pounds more than her. Pamela can't do anything about her small build, small hips/large hips is not what makes a woman more attractive or feminine.

Cass: I am describing Pamela Anderson as she is, which should not be construed as bashing her. The issue is how feminine is Pamela and how she has been presented to men. You think that if she weighed 30-35 pounds more as a young adult, she would look like the comparison [not particularly feminine herself]? No way; the skeletal proportions are different and the fat is not going to be distributed in the same manner.

Pamela Anderson's body was never as good as Sheila's, but her face was better as a young woman.

And this ties back to what I was saying on Teresa Palmer's page; people seem to value how the face looks more than the body.

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