Playboy, Then and Now

Data Visualizations on Half a Century of Playmates


The ideal playmate is the girl next door with her clothes off, according to Playboy's founder Hugh Hefner.

Marilyn Monroe was the first model chosen for Playboy's centerfold. It was December 1953. Sixty-two years and 737 issues later, America's "girl next door" has surely changed. Some speculate that female bodies in Playboy have become more athletic. Others have wondered whether plastic surgery is behind the number of models with un-realistic breasts sizes. Academic studies have analysed correlation between economic conditions and Playmates' curves. Others have stressed America's increasing BMI, and argued that the gap between the "girl next door" and the girl depicted in Playboy covers is getting wider and wider.

In this resource, we've gathered, organized and visualized data on all the 739 girls that have posed in Playboy's centerfolds. From December 1953's "Sweetheart of the Month", to Kaylia Cassandra's June 2015 centerfold.

How to Use This Silk: Browse the charts and maps below. Use the filters to customize the information shown. Click "Explore" anywhere on the site to go into visualization mode. Here you can change the type of chart, the variables plotted, and the filter options. When you see or create a graph you like, you can share it in a few clicks on social media. Or even embed the (responsive) graphs online in your blogs and articles. Search for individual pages or entities in the top search box.

Do Men Prefer Blondes? Less and less, according to Playboy

The first Playboy centerfold ever was dedicated to a (dyed) blonde, Marilyn Monroe. Yet blondes are not Playboy’s favorite models. The 50s and 60s saw more brunettes than blondes. And also, they saw the highest share of redheads ever recorded (18% through the 50s).

The percentage of blonde Playmates then started to rise through the 70s and 80s. Blondes reached their peak of fame in the 90s. Back then, they made up 57% of the girls featured in the magazine’s centerfolds.

The tables quickly turned, and in the 2010s “only” 44% of the Playmates were blonde. The lowest value ever since the 1970s.


Blonde Playmates, Brunette Playmates and Redhead Playmates Through the Decades



Number of Playmates of the Year per Hair Color of the Model



Overall, there have been slightly more brunette playmates (48%) than blondes (47%). 

However, blondes seem more likely to become Playboy's favorite model of the year. Only 2.6% of the redheads Playmates have become Playmate of the Year. For the brunettes, this number goes up to 7%. And for the blondes it's 9.3%.

As Playboy Gets Older, Playmates Have Smaller Bust Sizes

So far, in the 2010's, 94% of the Playmates are a 31-35 inch bra size. The largest busts of this decade have been a 36-37, and still, only 6% of the Playmates sported them. 

In contrast, this was the most popular size in through the 50's and 60's. Sizes bigger than 40 have totally disappeared from Playboy's centerfolds since the 1980's, and 38 or plus measures since the 90's. 

On the other hand, smaller busts of 31-33 inches have been 2-3% from the 50's to the 90's. They jumped to 13% in the 2000's. And they've been 36% of all the breasts pictured on Playboys's centerfolds in the 2010's.

Playmate Bust Sizes throught the Decades



Number of Models grouped by Bra Size



How do the numbers compare for the average American woman? It’s hard to find credible or official statistics.

But for fun, consider that according to a study by Intimacy, a bra retailer, the most sold bra size is a 34E. Only 0.1% of the playmates would probably buy this bra size.

Nowadays, Almost a Fourth of the Playmates is Foreign Born

Back in the 50s, only 5% of the Playmates were born outside the US. By the 2010s, the number has peaked to almost a fourth.

Non-US Born Playmates through the Decades



The highest percentage of foreign-born Playmates is still North American, as they come from Canada.

Number of Issues grouped by Country of Birth for Model (Excluding US)



Playmates’ Age Increasing Along with the Magazine: The 2010–2015 average age Is 4 years older than the average age in the 60s

The average playmate of the 2010s is one and a half years older than the one of the 1950s.

Back in the 50s, the average playmate was 22.3 years old. It dropped to 21 in the 60’s, then has been rising ever since. Gradually yet steadily. To the point that in the 2010s, the average age has almost reached 25.

While most of the Playmates have been 21–22, there have been 3 underaged Playmates. And sixteen 30+, starting from Betti Page in 1995.

Playmate Average Age Through the Decades



America’s Girl Next Door Looks Less and Less Like a Playmate

In the last two decades, Playmates have had an average BMI of about 18.3–18.5. A value that classifies them as healthy weight or just slightly underweight, according to the World Health Organization.

And for the “American girl next door” the BMI has been increasing steeply.

Playmate Average BMI and US Mean BMI (Female 20-29 Years) 1953 - 2015



But are Playmates an idealized female model?

Not necessarily so, at least in comparison to other fashion models. Almost half of the Playmates have a BMI that classifies as “healthy weight”, according to WHO standards. True, the majority is still considered underweight, but only six models (0.8%) are actually classified as “severely underweight”.

Number of Issues grouped by Model's BMI Classification



Playmates Say Goodbye to “Hourglass” Body Figures

Bill Farley, Playboy’s director of Communications, stated that body shapes of Playmates has been changing:

“In the 1950s and into the 60s, the cultural norm was more of the hourglass figure — Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield. That was reflected in the pages of Playboy. As time has gone on and women have become more athletic, more in the business world and more inclined to put themselves through fitness regimes, their bodies have changed, and we reflect that as well”.

In fact, the data on the average hips, waist and bust sizes seems to confirm this. Playmates are having wider hips and waists, and smaller busts. In other words, the hourglass measures are slowly averaging towards less curvy bodies.



Made with Silk

Silk is a place to explore the world through data. Silk displays data as beautiful interactive charts, maps and web pages. Create your own free Silk now.

We used data from Playboy.com, Wikipedia and other related databases. All sources are listed and linked in each Playmate's profile.

Last Updated: Up to Playboy's June 2015 issue.