German Playboy is getting some major publicity thanks to Sila Sahin, a 25 year-old Turkish-German soap opera star who has caused outrage in the Muslim community by posing topless on the cover of the magazine’s May issue. She is the first Turkish woman ever to be featured nude in Playboy.
Sahin said that her goal in posing for the original lad mag was to provide a “call to arms” to girls from strict and often sexually repressive backgrounds, even going so far as to compare herself to Che Guevara in the interview accompanying the 12-page pictorial. “I did it because I wanted to be free at last,” she said. “These photographs are a liberation from the restrictions of my childhood.”
But is posing naked for a men’s magazine really the best way to achieve social liberation for Muslim women? “The photos actually emphasize [Sahin’s] otherness and her Turkishness with Turkish rugs, gold-embroidered fabrics, a peacock feather, and the title Fire of the Orient,” said the German paper Deutsche Welle, while Berlin-based columnist Hatic Akyün (also of Turkish descent) called the pictorial a “cheap cliché.” Many are wondering if the spread is sexually liberating or just sexually (and culturally) exploitative.
Still, Sahin continues to defend her decision to appear in the magazine and claims that she has received support from the public (although most of her family is no longer in contact with her). “Many of my countrymen think it's great that I can be so free,” she said. “With the shoot I hoped to say to them that we do not necessarily have to live under these rules given to us.”