Open Letter to Hugh Hefner: Mastectomies for Hire

Hiya Hugh,

You don’t know me but I know you and your publication from years of masturbatory bliss and buying into the Playboy standardization of beauty. Yes, I realize that I am a trained sexologist and mother of two daughters and that I should somehow feel marginalized by your portrayal of women as sexual play toys but I just don’t see it that way. I drank the Kool-Aid all the way back in the early eighties when my friend DeeDee introduced me to the stack of Playboys her Dad was hording back in their pool house. I saw those women as desirable, strong and empowered – much as I still do today. However, now that my status has changed to also include breast cancer thriver and mastectomy-haver, it occurred to me that you could do a huge service for women out there like us by showing a pictorial that included a woman (or women) with breast mastectomies. I know it’s a bit too late being that October is already Breast Cancer awareness month but perhaps you could put it on your editorial calendar for next year.

We are a group of women who must now resexualize and sensualize our new breasts. We me must see the beauty in them despite that they don’t look or feel like they used to – which in some cases may be an improvement – after breast feeding two kiddos my breasts will never fall south and nor will I ever need another mammogram, thank you very much. They are sort of like superhero boobs. They are boobs that also potentially helped to save my life.Open Letter to Hugh Hefner: Mastectomies for HireI must say that surgical results are a far cry from how they used to be. Many women were left looking like patchwork as a result of their radical mastectomies even 15 years ago. Now, there are nipple sparing surgeries and plastic surgeons who create works of art. But I haven’t seen one pictorial any where in any magazine that sensualizes mastectomies. Even searching on line in fetishes there doesn’t seem like much in the realm of what I am discussing here. Now I’m feeling marginalized.

Hugh, 1 in 8 women in our lifetime will develop breast cancer. Some of it is curable now (like mine) and most of it is treatable. There is a whole segment of women out there and the men who love them who need to see that they are not only normal but revered for the choice the made. More and more of these women are younger at diagnosis as well, meaning that they are in the prime of their sexual lives.  We now have icons such as Sharon Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic, Christina Applegate and Angelina Jolie getting mastectomies because they have either been diagnosed or because they show a predisposition to diagnosis.

My preventative mastectomy wasn’t perfect but neither were my real breasts. My husband and I (incidentally we did upgrade a bra size) are now learning to love them as much as my originals. Yes, there is some scarring and sensation is different but I am truly happy to have them. Playboy has had enough surgically altered women in their pages before, the difference here is making a statement about the beauty of medically required mastectomies. These women need to come out of the shadows and yes, I am saying it…be sexualized. The last thing I ever want to be is tossed to the side as not womanly enough because I don’t have natural breasts. I would just love to see Playboy take a major step in including the image of women with mastectomies as sexy as anyone else is. Hell, Hugh — I’ll do a pictorial if Jolie does. Just ask.


 is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.

© Copyright Dr. Kathleen Van Kirk