Since Hugh Hefner passed away in September, there's been a lot of talk about all the boundaries his magazine has pushed in its 64 years of production. Playboy has always been closely linked to the public's perception of women and sex, and the magazine doesn't seem to be changing that intent any time soon.
Meet Ines Rau.
The 26-year-old French model of North African descent has been named Playboy's first-ever openly transgender Playmate. The newcomer is New York based and currently has close to 240,000 Instagram followers.
Victor Boyko/Getty Images for Vogue
Transgender individuals have posed for Playboy in the past, though none of them were official Playmates at the time, which is a title reserved for the centerfold models of the magazine. Rau herself posed for Playboy in a 2014 nude feature called "Evolution," which launched her modeling career.
"Evolution" set out to be a survey of "humanity's halting shift toward acceptance of gender identities beyond the male-female binary." Rau posed for the spread shortly after her coming out and then signed with an agency after the acclaim the feature brought.
Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Desigual
Rau will accompany her upcoming spread with an interview about her journey and struggle with identity. She tells Playboy, "I lived a long time without saying I was transgender. I dated a lot and almost forgot. I was scared of never finding a boyfriend and being seen as weird. Then I was like, 'You know, you should just be who you are.' It's a salvation to speak the truth about yourself, whether it's your gender, sexuality, whatever. The people who reject you aren't worth it. It's not about being loved by others; it's about loving yourself."
Playboy and Rau are setting out to change society's perception of womanhood and all that that descriptor entails. Rau notes in her interview that "being a woman doesn't mean being extremely feminine all the time. Being a woman is just being a woman."
Rau's photo editorial will be featured in the November/December 2017 issue, which will also pay tribute to the late founder on its cover.