Yale alum and Spokane Valley, Wash. legislative hopeful Amy Biviano ’97 has come under fire for appearing topless in a 1995 Playboy photo shoot that featured “Women of the Ivy League.”
Biviano, a Democrat who is challenging Republican incumbent Matt Shea’s seat representing the 4th District of Spokane Valley, has said she does not regret the photo shoot, calling it a confidence-building experience that she said has helped her build a stronger self of self-reliance.
“It was one of the youthful college kinds of things,” Biviano told The Spokesman-Review. “I was interested in pushing my limits… This was my small act of rebellion.”
For Biviano, defending her decision is something she has faced before. In a 1995 op-ed for The Yale Herald, she wrote that after posing in the shoot, she received disapproving glances in the grocery store and strange calls from men complimenting her on her breasts. Still, she affirmed that the experience made her more of a risk-taker with fewer inhibitions — even though she acknowledged that she would likely never do something quite so controversial again.
“So why do I still consider posing for Playboy to have been the right move for me?” she wrote in the Herald. “What I have learned this summer in the face of this scandal has taught me more about myself and the others around me than I could ever have learned by sticking to my role as the sweet little girl next door … The news was out that the nice girl who went all the way up North, all the way to Yale, had become uninhibited enough to pose in Playboy.”
When the photo originally debuted in Playboy, Biviano received some backlash from student groups on Yale’s campus. Some Yale students accused her of being anti-feminist, according to The Spokesman-Review.
Another student group offered her $500 not to take part in the photo shoot, Biviano told the Harvard Crimson in 1995.
Other Yale students were not as opposed to Biviano’s actions, such as her then-boyfriend and current husband Andrew Biviano ’97. Amy Biviano told the Spokesman-Review that, in fact, he “encouraged her to do the shoot”.
In addition, Biviano’s challenger Shea released an Oct. 19 statement condemning the release of the photos, alleging that his campaign staff had been aware of those photos but chose not to release them to avoid engaging in negative campaigning, “even those [his] opponent had already done so.”
The photo was brought to the public’s attention by the conservative blog “The Western Center for Journalism.”