City Beach promoting Playboy to teens

Back in 2011, we exposed youth retailer City Beach for flogging porn products to teens. Ten years on, they are doing it again.

Now City Beach is promoting Playboy, a major brand of the global pornography industry to its young market, with t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, socks, hats and beanies all emblazoned with the Playboy logo now available for purchase. Playboy branding is also prominently displayed on both the store's website and in shop front windows. 



Some of the Playboy-branded clothing features images of women's objectified body parts or vintage magazine covers featuring sexualised photos of nude models. 

The dark truth about Playboy

The Playboy brand page on the City Beach website includes an endorsement of the porn brand for "valuing equality" and "advocating for civil rights":

Playboy is bold and outspoken, and is truly a brand for those who want to break barriers and question the status quo. Valuing equality and advocating for civil rights, LGBTQ communities as well as cannabis reform. 

It would seem Playboy's self-proclaimed values of equality and fighting for civil rights don't extend to women, however.

Playboy played a massive role in mainstreaming and legitimising the trade in women's objectified bodies. It turned pornography into big business, resulting in the pornography industry that exists today.

A piece published on ABC Religion and Ethics entitled The House that Hef Built: Hugh Hefner's Dark Legacy by Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist documented Playboy's "objectification on an industrial scale" as well as its deliberate eroticisation of children:

Playboy linked "innocent children with strong Playboy orgasm-based stimuli" in the words of U.S. researcher Judith Reisman, who documented Playboy's treatment of pre-pubescent girls. Playboy, Reisman found, was deliberate in its eroticization of girl children. In one year alone, 39% of Playboy centrefolds were of children under 12. Brooke Shields, then 10, was posed as paedo-fantasy material in Playboy Press 1975 publication Sugar N Spice, made up to look like an adult woman in a girl's body. Eva Ionesco, at 11, became the youngest model ever to appear in a Playboy nude pictorial. One image, depicting a girl lying face down naked with a doll on Disney sheets, is captioned: "BABY DOLL. It's easy to feel paternalistic toward the cuddly type above. Naturally, she digs forceful father figures, so come on strong, Big Daddy."

Then there were the child sex abuse cartoons, also documented by U.S. psychiatrist and feminist Linnea Smith. While denying it would ever publish such offensive imagery, Smith located published pictures of children in sexual (abuse) encounters with adults.

Cartoons published in Playboy also depicted rape and child sexual abuse. One of these, posted below, with the caption "You call that being molested?" depicts a girl as being left unsatisfied after being sexually abused by an adult man. Because in Playboy, girls both invite and enjoy child sexual abuse. Is this what City Beach meant about Playboy “breaking barriers” and “challenging the status quo”?


In Pornography and Civil Rights, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon wrote:

Underlying all of Playboy’s pictorials is the basic theme of pornography: that all women are whores by nature, born wanting to be sexually accessible to all men at all times.

City Beach's long history of flogging porn to youth market

This isn't the first time City Beach has promoted porn brands to its teen market. We first exposed the surf store in 2010 for selling porn t-shirts, some of which depicted women, including famous pornography performers, naked, bound and gagged.


In 2011, we published an open letter written by supporter Caitlin Roper urging retailers (including City Beach) to cease the sale and distribution of porn t-shirts. The letter argued that the imagery on the t-shirts sexually objectified women, it constituted sexual harassment as unwanted exposure to pornographic content, it was harmful to children and triggered distress in sexual abuse survivors. The letter was signed by almost sixty high profile experts, psychologists, academics and child advocates.



City Beach ignored calls from experts and advocates and continued selling countless t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, thongs, caps, drink coolers, wallets, stickers, iPhone covers, pencil cases and air fresheners with porn-themed, sexist and objectifying representations of women's bodies and body parts. This included porn-inspired pencil cases in their "Back to school" sale, which we learned about when a female teacher contacted us after she found one in a Year 8 student's possession. Did City Beach ever contemplate that they were facilitating sexual harassment of female teachers and students in schools?



Caitlin Roper made an official complaint to the Human Rights Commission for sexual harassment, citing unsolicited exposure to pornographic images depicting naked and semi-naked women, often bound and gagged, while doing her shopping. City Beach's lawyers informed her that the retailer did not intend to participate in conciliation unless compelled to do so. Essentially, they couldn't care less how women were harmed, as long as they were generating profits. City Beach refused every one of Caitlin's requests to mitigate children's exposure to their pornographic content.

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We started a petition calling for them to pull the porn t-shirts, including one featuring a nude woman who appeared to be battered and with a black eye alongside the slogan "It's only illegal if you get caught". We held protests outside City Beach stores in Sydney and Brisbane and we distributed flyers documenting City Beach sexual objectification of women. 



It's been clear for many years that City Beach is far more concerned with profits than women's basic human rights, but we still think you should tell them what you think about their flogging porn brands to a teen market.


Contact City Beach via their website:

Post on City Beach Facebook:

Tweet them:

Comment on their Instagram:

See also:

The House that Hef Built: Hugh Hefner's Dark Legacy - ABC Religion and Ethics

Retailers urged to cease the sale and distribution of 'porn t-shirts'

Does the Human Rights Commission really care about gender equality?

Pornifying the classroom: a lesson in objectification for Year 8s

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  • Caitlin Roper
    published this page in News 2021-05-03 09:11:14 +1000

You can defend their right to childhood

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