In October of last year, Playboy announced that their magazine would no longer feature full-frontal nudity starting in March 2016. Pamela Anderson was chosen to be the final celebrity to pose nude for the 62-year-old magazine.
Earlier this month, Playboy revealed that the first cover model for their first non-nude issue would be 19-year-old Sarah McDaniel. McDaniel is particularly unique because she has heterochromia iridum, a condition that causes one eye’s color to be different from the other’s.
“I didn’t always want to be a model. I knew from a pretty young age, maybe 16, that I wanted to focus on it but I never really thought that I could do it. I would say it would be two years ago is when I really started getting serious about it and started getting more people paying attention to me.”
Although McDaniel has over 320,000 Instagram followers, she doesn’t consider herself an Instagram model, however.
“People think that I got famous from instagram, but I was already a model before. I was actually doing more things in modeling before the [Playboy] cover news came out.
“I like to show people more in depth about what I like because I really love being in nature. I like to post that kind of stuff [on social media] because I feel like it attracts people that like the same things as me. I want to have that kind of fan base rather than just posting booty pics or whatever. I feel like you get the wrong kind of attention.”
Born in Roseville, California, McDaniel moved to San Diego when she eight-years-old and had to move multiple times all over Southern California during high school because of her father’s work as a project manager. Because of that, she had a hard time forming close friends and was often bullied because of her appearance.
“My teeth were horrible before I got braces. I gained a little weight when I was younger — there were so many other things that I stressed about. I didn’t wear makeup all through high school or middle school.
“I never had a friend group or anyone who would stand up for me. I think it was being tall and weird looking and still growing into my features. I think the biggest thing was probably my braces or teeth or personality; people didn’t like me all around. I just didn’t really connect with a lot of the kids. Maybe because I was super into ‘Lord of the Rings’ a little too much — maybe that scared a little people off.” (laughs)
While one of the biggest factors contributing to her Playboy selection was her online following, McDaniel credits Rolling Stone celebrity photographer Theo Wenner for helping to make it happen. Wenner became intrigued with the fact that McDaniel was uploading videos to Snapchat at a past shoot.
“He was intrigued by it because he doesn’t use Snapchat. Everyday I would take a new video, behind the scenes or whatever. I think that kind of clicked with Playboy trying to be more personal towards the magazine and more real towards the younger audience — I think he realized that I could be the type of girl they’d want to promote more on Playboy.”
Wenner coincidentally became the photographer for the Playboy shoot, and Snapchat ended up becoming his inspiration for its theme, which was designed to resemble a sexy selfie someone would send via Snapchat.
“I never expected a lot of things that have come to me. I would have never been able to do any of this on my own. It’s all about the people who believed in me and pushed me. Theo kind of guided me towards the Playboy thing and talked me up.”
McDaniel believes Playboy choosing to go non-nude is a positive step.
“I think it was time for a change. They had been doing the same thing for so long. You can see naked women everywhere now. I think it was really smart because they have more content now and they can get a lot more models now because it’s non-nude. I think it will make people focus more than just a naked woman’s body, even though is a beautiful thing and everyone wants to see it.”
If, however, Playboy did ask her to pose nude for the magazine, McDaniel says that she would consider it depending on the style and who the photographer is.
“There’s a lot of things contribute to my decision, but I think I would definitely have to think about it. There’s always going to be a part of me that would want to be in it anyway, just because Playboy is so huge and it’s a historical magazine.
“My parents have been along the journey with me for so long and they know how much I want success in modeling and anything that I want to do. They support me on everything I did. My dad was the first one to be like, ‘I believe in you. I want you to do the Playboy magazine’ — before he even knew it was non-nude. He supports everything I do and is always there for me. It’s awesome.”
Although McDaniel’s career is just starting to take off, she has a few words of wisdom and advice for anyone looking to pursue a career in modeling.
“I wasted like maybe over a year of my life because I listened to other people telling me things that weren’t true. I went through a lot of rejection. My previous agency told me that I couldn’t do runway, I couldn’t do acting, couldn’t do all these things and it threw me off. Only listen to the people who actually believe in you and are behind you, because that is what is really going to get you somewhere. If it ultimately doesn’t work out, then you did your best.”
McDaniels is still modeling and says her biggest dream is to become a Victoria’s Secret model.
“It’s a big dream. But I never thought that Playboy would happen either so you never really know.”