Students featured in 'Girls of the SEC'
Two MSU students bare all for Playboy magazine's October issue
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011 16:05
Two Mississippi State University students have shed their inhibitions and clothing for Playboy's "Girls of the SEC" pictorial, which hit shelves Sept. 7 as part of the magazine's October issue.Andi Dandridge and Angela James, whose real last names are kept confidential, were two of 35 MSU students who auditioned for the pictorial in March at the downtown Hotel Chester in Starkville last semester. More than 100 MSU students submitted pictures and e-mails to Playboy expressing interest in trying out.
James, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, said the girls who were selected to pose were chosen almost immediately after auditioning.
"They told me right after I tried out," she said. "I was really excited. I couldn't really believe it until it came out. I kept thinking, 'Oh they're just pulling my leg.'"
None of the girls selected to pose were told whether they would be in the magazine.
"We actually didn't know until the issue came out," said Dandridge, a senior educational psychology major. "From March until Sept. 7, I've been on my toes."
Dandridge and James said they were ecstatic when they saw themselves in the magazine.
"I couldn't believe it happened. I would keep running and looking at the magazine and going, 'Oh, this is for real,' because it's something you think about, but you don't think it's a reachable goal," James said. "I'm proud that I got chosen."
"It was a crazy feeling," Dandridge said. "I never thought I'd actually be in the magazine, and when I heard it was one of [Playboy's] top-selling issues, I was like, 'Yeah, this is cool.'"
Despite living in an overtly conservative and religious region of the United States, where sexuality is an often-skirted issue, both girls said they feel comfortable about their decisions and are supported by their families.
James, a Chapel Hill, N.C., native, said she was raised in a much more liberal environment than Starkville, so sexuality isn't something she feels she should hide.
"Where I grew up, sexuality wasn't anything to hide or lie about, but down here I know a lot of people don't feel comfortable talking about their sexuality," she said. "It's not really talked about down here. It's all 'behind closed doors.'"
James said she was motivated to pose for Playboy in order to prove to herself that she could do it and to show women that they don't have to fit a certain mold to be beautiful.
"I've always wanted to pose and to show people that they can be in a magazine like that even if they don't have the big boobs and fit the description of 'what sells,'" she said.
Dandridge, on the other hand, was raised in Grenada, and despite garnering her parents' support, said the topic has come up at family gatherings.
"My parents are supportive of whatever I do ... it's just that I've got a lot of aunts," she said with a laugh. "It's still kind of hard because my family is very church-oriented. I've read every scripture in the Bible there is, but then again I see that I am grown and I make my own decisions. That's what they had to understand."
Other than that, she said, her family was at ease about the shoot.
"After the issue came out they saw that it looked very classy; it looked very good," she said. "They were like, 'OK, we're happy with the results.'"
James was part of two shoots: one at Whiskey Blues, a downtown Starkville bar, which was not published, and another in a field. Dandridge was photographed at the Hotel Chester.
James said working with Playboy was a pleasant experience. She said the photographers made sure she was comfortable and were easy to get along with.
"Me and the crew got along really well," she said. "I was part of their group, and it was really fun. They joked a lot. They had to adjust lights all the time, and if you were just standing there they come up and give you a robe, so you felt really comfortable."
James said the girls were not allowed to say how much they were paid, but that Playboy "took good care of us."
James found out about the auditions after being approached by Playboy protesters last semester.
"I didn't even know Playboy was coming until I was going to my class and people ran up to me and said, 'Sign this petition against Playboy coming.' I said, 'Playboy's coming? I'm going to go and try out!' So [the protesters] did the opposite [of their goal]. And not just me, I know some of the other girls that tried out didn't even know about it until the protest. So they really promoted Playboy."
James said Playboy knew about the protest and saw it as a good thing.
"They were like, 'This is great because now people will be looking for the magazine.'"
James said she didn't mind the protest.
"It's free speech, you have the right to think what you want, but just don't get mad at those who think differently," she said.
Dandridge said she understands why people opposed Playboy's presence, but doesn't agree with their reasoning.
"I can understand where they're coming from, but they just have to understand that people have a different view on things," she said. "They should be open to more things, because this world is changing everyday."
Playboy is not sold anywhere in Starkville, so those interested in picking up a copy must travel to Columbus or elsewhere to buy a copy.
Dandridge said she doesn't see why they are unavailable in the city.
"I thought it was pretty crazy because I would think most college guys would want to see a bunch of beautiful college girls," she said. "I think they would've sold a lot if they would have put them in stores."
"It's OK with me; Columbus has them," James said.
Both women said they are open to posing again if the opportunity arises, but for right now school is their top priority.
"If any [modeling] opportunities come up because of it I will pursue them, but until then I'm just trying to finish school," Dandridge said.