Hayley Hasselhoff is a great model, designer and writer. He is also a body positivity activist and an advocate. Now he can add Playboy cover girl on her resume thanks to a new issue in German Playboy photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth and came out today.
Playboy reached out and said, we really want to make you Europe’s first curve model Playboy. What do you think about that?
At first, I was a little worried. Where am I as a 28 year old woman? And then, of course, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for women to feel wanted, for women to be able to celebrate their bodies and be a major force for this movement. [of body positivity and acceptance]. We are in 2021, I can’t believe this is the first time we have a curve model on the cover [a European] Playboy. This magazine has graduated so much from where it came from. But you also need to remember where the history is. For me, I’m looking back on covers that are so iconic … seeing how empowering, sensual, sophisticated women are taking ownership for themselves and the way they want to celebrate themselves. That in itself is a full honor [to be considered]. And above all, that Ellen Von Unwerth to be part of the project is just the cherry on the cake. Of course, I am really excited to see what kind of masterpieces we can put together from the female body art form.
Being able to shoot this type of shoot means being able to show that you are not objectified by showing off your body. Just because I’m a woman who has slightly bustier breasts doesn’t mean that it should always be the object of something sensual; it can also be part of the art and can be part of the celebration. And I want to have bigger conversations with people during shooting, after shooting, and leading those conversations.
I don’t think I’ve worked with such a sociable magazine before. It was a collaborative experience that made me feel the most comfortable. When Ellen joined, it was just a kind of wonderful synergy … to find out what we wanted from that woman [I was embodying] to feel like, we want him to be celebrated as what. They come up to me and say, “Where do you feel most strongly? Where do you feel most grounded?” And because we were shooting during COVID, there weren’t all options in the world because we had to figure out where all the teams could be. I was in London and there was discussion about the possibility of shooting in Germany or Paris or London. I have always had a very close relationship with Paris. I used to go there in my early 20s to see my friends whenever I was on a work trip in London. I always feel so graceful and sexy there, and I know this city very well. So we chose Paris and we actually went there during the lockdown, which was a very interesting experience, to say the least. I can’t leave my hotel. You must be within a one mile radius of where you live or where you are taking pictures. You must carry documents with you wherever you go.
So, to record something like that over a period of time is itself eye-opening – to be able to move on to a set where everyone sees the end goal of doing something substantial, celebrating people and celebrating our bodies during a global pandemic. You can feel the energy knowing that this is something bigger than just the cover.
We ended up filming in an old brothel in Paris. But the interesting part about it is clearly that Ellen chose the location. And one thing that always stands out for me when we get there is on the walls, there is art of beautiful women of all shapes and sizes in the paintings … it takes you back to the celebrations of that woman. And their bodies truly solidify a work of art. It confuses me when you look back at where we came from, when it comes to the history of the female figure [compared to] where are we today. We took pictures there and saw these women of all shapes and sizes, beautifully painted nude. You look at the shape and say, “Oh my God. This is why we need to celebrate, because there is so much beauty in so many forms. There is so much beauty in the work of how our bodies grow and develop.” So in my opinion, with the beautiful collaboration of Ellen and her team, they found the perfect place to signify everything that we wanted to make from shooting.
It was a very enjoyable collaborative experience. That’s very much, “Who is he?” “What’s the story?” You know, “Where was he the night before?” And the joy that we capture and can show in the picture, I think is very beautiful. To be honest, I see my body in these pictures and I am very proud of myself. I am very proud of a woman like me. I love my body on a different level after doing such a thing. Not only when we took the picture, but afterwards, looked at these pictures and said, “Damn girl! You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful!” And make yourself think less of it because of other people’s points of view, or because what society considers beautiful is a wonderful thing.
Photography: Zoe Jackson
Hair and make-up: Anthony Pazos
Style: Audrey Brianne