Playmate of the Year 2016 Eugena Washington says she ‘wanted to show a different side of nudity’ in photos

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Eugena Washington made history when she was named Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 2016, becoming the third African American to gain the title. 

Fast forward to 2020, Playboy has recently published a never- before-seen centerfold spread of the model where the former “America’s Next Top Model Contestant” posed for the outlet.

Eugena Washington reflected on the importance of self-care in a new centerfold spread for Playboy.
(Playboy/Emma Summerton)

“That stayed with me throughout my life,” the former cover girl continued. “Taking pleasure in your beauty is resistance for Black women since society so often tells us to do the opposite. Self-care can look different to everyone… The point us we take ourselves for granted. We don’t pay attention to ourselves. And that needs to end.”

Washington first appeared in Playboy as the magazine’s December 2015 Playmate of the Month before she went on to earn the coveted title. Renee Tenison became the first Black Playmate of the Year in 1990 followed by Ida Ljungqvist in 2009. 

Washington told the outlet she hopes her photos will inspire other women to feel more confident about their bodies, not shame.

“That’s the message I want to send in this Playboy spread,” said Washington. “Yes, the images are sexy, but they’re also powerful. Women aren’t just objects for men to lust after; there’s power in our bodies. That’s what stood out to me about these photos. There isn’t a male gaze. You just see a woman in full ownership to herself.”

Playboy founder and Editor-in-Chief Hugh Hefner with 2016 Playmate of the Year Eugena Washington. Hefner passed away in 2017 at age 91.
(Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)

“I wanted to show a different side of nudity,” Washington shared. “Most people associate nudity with vulnerability, but I see such strength in the nude form. I imagine women will look at these images and then hopefully look at themselves and realize as long as you’re radiating your own light, you’re beautiful.”

The California native said she was also grateful to represent a completely different look – one that is also worthy of being celebrated.

“I had this rare opportunity to be an example of another type of beauty in a space that often only sees one kind of beauty and one kind of woman,” Washington explained. “My mission was to infiltrate that space with my dark skin, with my body type, with my intelligence, with everything I have to offer.

“… Black women have always been magical beings to me. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by what a blessing it is to be a Black woman. I’m thankful that I got to live this life as one because I don’t want to be anything else. There’s just so much I love about my Blackness, and that emanated from this photoshoot. We have carried a lot and our crowns are heavy, but we are the queens of this world.”

Eugena Washington was previously a contestant on "America’s Next Top Model."
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Playboy)

Back in February, Tenison told Fox News it took a while for her to realize what it truly meant to be the first Black Playmate of the Year.

“For me, I had no idea what it meant initially,” Tenison said at the time. “I didn’t know much about Playboy, let alone the history. I just thought the magazine was cool. But afterward, I kept hearing this buzz about how wonderful it was that [Hugh Hefner] chose me as Playmate of the Year.

"And apparently, they’ve never had an African American Playmate of the Year before. And the title completely changed my life. I was just 19 and I woke up to all of this fame. It broke down a cold barrier and I was happy to be a part of that.”

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