In 1963, Gloria Steinem wrote a two-part series titled “A Bunny’s Tale” for Show magazine, its “first exposé for intelligent people.” In it, Steinem answered an ad to work at the Playboy Club at 5 East 59th Street in New York City and recounted her experience. She crafted the perfect fake identity, only to find when she arrived, the “Mother Bunny” didn’t want any personal details, just her measurements (as well as a series of physical examinations, including a blood test and physical examination for STIs). The bunny suit, as it turned out, was so fitted that, on several different accounts, when women sneezed, their costumes ripped.
That was in part, thanks to the corsets worn under the costumes, made to make women’s breasts sit up super-high. The undergarments were so tight that “the boning in the waist would have made Scarlett O’Hara blanch." When it came time for Steinem to wear hers, the zipper was so constricting it caught her skin. She also notes that the “bottom was cut up so high that it left my high bones exposed as well as a good five inches of untanned derriere.”
The look was completed with Bunny ears that fit around her head like “an enlarged bicycle clip,” and “a grapefruit-sized hemisphere of white fluff was attached to hooks at the costumes rear-most point,” she described. The Bunnies were also made to wear three-inch heels and received demerits for anything lower (as well as if there were runs in your tights). The work didn’t stop once you were zipped up, either: Each girl was required to pay $2.50 a day to cover the cost of having her costume cleaned.
"I think Hefner himself wants to go down in history as a person of sophistication and glamour. But the last person I would want to go down in history as is Hugh Hefner," Steinem reportedly said after her stint. As Vogue pointed out, "Steinem’s seminal essay marked one of the first times a woman publicly challenged society’s stance on female beauty standards." That, and it reminded the world that maybe Playboy Bunnies aren’t the “most envied girls in America” after all.