Jessica Alba may be famous for her sex appeal, but she’s never been eager to bare everything for the camera. She once revealed to Glamour that she has a no-nudity clause. So how did Alba end up on the cover of Playboy? As it turns out, she never posed for them.
Jessica Alba Had a No-Nudity Clause
“I don’t want my grandparents to see my boobs,” Alba told Glamour in 2014. “That’s it. It would be weird at Christmas. And, I mean, really, if you look at the movies I have done, getting naked would never ‘elevate’ the picture.”
But 8 years earlier, Playboy put Jessica Alba on their March 2006 cover. They did so without her explicit permission, which led her to take legal action against the adult publication. Specifically, Playboy used a photo of Alba from the 2005 film Into the Blue. In large font on the issue’s cover were the words “25 Sexiest Celebrities: Jessica Alba: Sex Star of the Year.”
The move infuriated Jessica Alba, who, despite appearing in films like Sin City and Honey, was not keen on the public thinking that she’d posed nude for Playboy. Not only had she held up the end of her no-nudity clause, but she’d strived hard to make it as a third generation Mexican American woman in an industry built on white male hegemony.
Further, usage of her “likeness” violated her Right of Publicity. That is, according to the International Trademark Association, “an intellectual property right that protects against the misappropriation of a person’s name, likeness, or other indicia of personal identity—such as nickname, pseudonym, voice, signature, likeness, or photograph—for commercial benefit.”
Playboy Used a Photo of Alba From Into the Blue, Then Edited a Playboy Bunny Onto Her Bikini
Obviously, when one has made millions off of their acting career, specifically without appearing nude, that is a big line to cross.
According to a March 2006 article published by The Guardian, Playboy used Jessica Alba’s image for their cover after she refused to pose for them. They then obtained the photo from Into the Blue, presumably from Sony Pictures. And then they edited a Playboy bunny onto her swimsuit, which was even more misleading.
Alba and her attorneys demanded that Playboy remove all of that month’s issues from newsstands. They claimed that the move misled the public into thinking that the star posed nude when in fact she didn’t.
“Playboy has violated my personal rights and blatantly misled the public, who might think I had given them permission to put me on their cover when I didn’t,” Alba said in a statement provided by her publicist, Brad Cafarelli.
According to Salon, Smoking Gun published a cease-and-desist letter to Playboy from Alba’s attorney Brian Wolf. That letter demanded that Playboy “cease and desist from any further sale, dissemination and publication” of the March issue and provide a “monetary settlement” to Alba for “the damages and immeasurable harm caused to her good name, reputation, and career.”
Sony Pictures Claimed Playboy Didn’t Ask For Permission to Use the Photo
Smoking Gun also published a letter from Sony Pictures. Sony claimed that the photograph was never given to Playboy or authorized to be used. Sony expressed “dismay and anger over the outrageous, unethical behavior utilized by Playboy personnel.”
Playboy initially responded by denying any wrongdoing. Because Alba had been voted as “sexiest star of the year” by the magazine’s readers in an online poll, a spokesperson said that they’d “done nothing wrong.”
But ongoing threats of lawsuits eventually led to an apology letter from Hugh Hefner.
“What was intended as a tribute to your tremendous popularity has been misinterpreted by some as something else for which we are truly sorry since we are among your biggest fans,” Hefner wrote. He apologized for “any distress unintentionally caused by the publication of your photo” on the March cover.
Alba Forgave Hugh Hefner and Playboy
Aside from the apology letter, Playboy also made two donations to charity on Alba’s behalf. They donated to Keep A Child Alive and the Until There’s A Cure Foundation. The move was enough to assuage Alba’s hard feelings.
“In light of Mr. Hefner’s personal apology for Playboy’s unauthorized use of my photo on their cover, I have decided to discontinue my claims against them,” Alba wrote in a statement.
She added, “I appreciate Mr. Hefner’s acknowledgement of the distress caused by Playboy’s actions, and I’m happy to put this unfortunate event behind me. This was never about money, it was about setting the record straight about something that was done without my knowledge or consent.”
Playboy spokesperson Lauren Malone made it clear that the entire situation was never intended to offend Jessica Alba. “Hef felt bad that Jessica was upset and apologized for unintentionally hurting her feelings,” said Malone. “We’re happy the matter has been amicably resolved.”
Malone is also quoted as saying that Alba isn’t the only celebrity to appear on the cover of Playboy without posing nude. “Many celebrities have appeared on the cover of Playboy, but not nude,” said Malone. Said celebrities included “Claudia Schiffer, Paris Hilton, Goldie Hawn, Raquel Welch, Barbara Streisand, Brooke Shields and Donald Trump.”
Did Playboy Hint at Another Fake Photo Shoot?
Despite Playboy’s improprieties and the shakeup that ensued, it’s clear that the publication never stopped adoring Jessica Alba. In a move that could have been misconstrued on its face as yet another “pretend photo shoot,” Playboy posted a photo of Alba on Instagram. She’s wearing a backless white dress and looking demurely over her left shoulder.
“Check out this new photo shoot of Jessica Alba – link in our bio,” reads the caption.
But the fine print in this case is in the hashtags. “@Playboy #VogueAustralia #JessicaAlba” it says under the caption. Ah, yes. Playboy was linking to Vogue Australia’s photoshoot of Jessica Alba. Yet the caption seemed to suggest, oh so subtly, and with an air of plausible deniability, that she’d posed for them. She didn’t.
Playboy paid homage to Alba the next year, too. But that time, they were more obvious that the shoot came from Shape Magazine.