Playboy Playmate Jordan Emanuel says magazine shows 'how multidimensional women can be and still be naked'

Jordan Emanuel was a Bunny at the Playboy Club before she became a Playmate of the Year

EXCLUSIVE: Jordan Emanuel’s life forever changed in 2018 when she was announced as Playmate of the Month.

However, few people knew that she was secretly facing alopecia, a condition when the immune system attacks the hair follicles. The autoimmune disorder can be caused by stress, diet or traumatic life events.

By the time Emanuel became Playmate of the Year in 2019, she had to rely on wigs to hide her hair loss. The former Bunny admitted that while she was supposed to feel confident during a triumphant time in her life, she was silently struggling with her confidence, unsure how it would ultimately impact her career.

Jordan Emanuel was named Playmate of the Year in 2019.

Jordan Emanuel was named Playmate of the Year in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Faymous Studios)

Today, Emanuel is speaking out about her diagnosis in hopes it will inspire other women to seek help and realize they are not alone during a painfully confusing time in their lives.

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Emanuel spoke to Fox News about how her life changed since becoming a Playmate, coping with alopecia and the one key piece of advice she would give to other girls.

Fox News: In 2019, you became Playboy’s Playmate of the Year. What was your reaction to the news?
Jordan Emanuel: Honestly, I cried *laughs*. I’m not an emotional person, but I was just so shocked by the news that it was the only way for me to react. I never believed I would be chosen for Playmate of the Month, let alone Playmate of the Year.

Teela LaRoux, Jordan Emanuel and Geena Rocero attend the Playboy Playhouse on June 19, 2019, in New York City.

Teela LaRoux, Jordan Emanuel and Geena Rocero attend the Playboy Playhouse on June 19, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

That meant I would represent one of the most iconic brands for a whole year. It was super flattering for me. I went from working as a Bunny at the club to being Playmate of the Year. It was super flattering and an honor.

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I gained an entire network of really amazing women that I call my Playmate sisters. I think that was the greatest gift from the experience. I can travel almost anywhere in the world and there’s always someone there for me that I can reach out to. We’ve developed this incredible bond and we’re always chatting and reminiscing with each other. 

Fox News: As a model, you never posed nude before Playboy. How did you cope with the nerves?
Emanuel: You know, I have always been someone who’s very comfortable with my body. Modeling on such a different scale was certainly nerve-wracking because I really didn’t know what to expect. But once I got to the set, everybody was just so relaxed and unbothered that I felt very calm. It was ultimately a really good experience and I got to express my style… And at the time, I was eating very clean and I wasn’t drinking to prepare for the shoot so I felt ready once it came time to pose.

Jordan Emanuel attends the 2019 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at Washington Hilton on April 27, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Jordan Emanuel attends the 2019 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at Washington Hilton on April 27, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

And the experience was a huge one. I grew up on “Girls Next Door,” Carmen Electra, Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson. These are beautiful women who went on to have significant careers. But none of them looked like me. I think being able to represent those girls I idolized, but also be me was a huge moment in my life. I wanted to amplify our beauty as a Black woman. I couldn’t be more grateful for that chance. 

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Fox News: It’s been said that not everyone in your family was thrilled that you posed for Playboy.
Emanuel: It was my aunt *laughs*. She’s a little bit more conservative and, like many women, subconsciously trained that women aren’t supposed to be comfortable with our sexuality. We certainly aren’t supposed to flaunt that sexuality. And there’s this weird notion that a woman who’s sexy is immediately thought of as less intelligent.

I think all those things combined caused her to panic when she heard that I would be posing for Playboy. I don’t think she knew what to expect. She wasn’t aware that Playboy has gone through several transformations over the years. But she’s OK with it now *laughs*. She calmed down after a week.

Jordan Emanuel privately battled alopecia before speaking out.

Jordan Emanuel privately battled alopecia before speaking out. (Photo courtesy of Genevieve Andrews)

But there’s more to Playboy than just posing nude. As a woman, I have multiple things to offer. Many of us aren’t always given the space to present that. I think it’s great that we can spark those conversations and promote the idea that you can be a successful woman, mom, whatever it may be -- and still be proud of your sexuality. Every Playmate will tell you that they always have different things going on in their lives. That’s one thing Playboy does so well -- show how multidimensional women can be and still be naked.

Fox News: You recently came forward with your battle with alopecia. When did you realize something wasn’t right?
Emanuel: I really didn't even realize I had it until maybe six or seven years ago when I was a junior in college. I had gotten a relaxer, which was something I had done since I was a child. But I started noticing that there was a hole in my hairline. It started off as dime-sized and then it just expanded to the point where I needed to put on a wig. I initially didn’t see a doctor because my hair started growing back naturally. 

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But then two years ago, I had a similar situation where I had a chemical reaction to something and it took out my whole hairline. Except for this time, it wasn’t growing back like the last time. I could actually feel a spot was forming. So this time I did see a dermatologist and I was diagnosed with alopecia. Just from the stress of that, it exasperated my situation and it spread even more. I was losing hope that my hair would grow back. But thank God, it eventually did.

Jordan Emanuel attends the Playboy Playhouse on June 19, 2019, in New York City.

Jordan Emanuel attends the Playboy Playhouse on June 19, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Fox News: Were you ever worried that your alopecia diagnosis could impact your modeling career?
Emanuel: You know, it was initially hard at first because I was never someone who wore wigs before. I am very minimalistic when it comes to my hair. So having to be photographed in wigs -- I just didn’t look like me. I didn’t feel like me.

And no one knew what was going on. I was hiding it. I was embarrassed to talk about it for a long time. I was embarrassed whenever I had to book a shoot because I always had to give them a warning. It made me self-conscious. It made my job harder because I just didn’t feel comfortable with myself.

Fox News: How are you dealing with alopecia today?
Emanuel: Luckily, I have a really great dermatologist who gives me steroid shots when I need it. I also have a great beautician who helps me treat my hair. My hair is fully back now, but it’s still a struggle. I knew I had to accept this diagnosis and my hair may not ever be the same, but things have progressed tremendously.

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Playboy Playmate Jordan Emanuel revealed what she would tell other girls faced with alopecia.

Playboy Playmate Jordan Emanuel revealed what she would tell other girls faced with alopecia. (Photo courtesy of Sean Turi.)

Fox News: What’s a misconception you feel people have about those with alopecia?
Emanuel: I think when it comes to Black women especially, they immediately assume it’s because we’re using extensions or putting a lot of tension in our hair with braids or whatever. People don’t realize it’s an autoimmune disease we don’t have any control over. I wish more people knew that.

Fox News: What advice would you give to a girl who doesn’t feel confident or beautiful because she has alopecia?
Emanuel: You know, I have a friend who has alopecia totalis, which means she lost her hair -- eyebrows, all of it. I would look myself in the mirror and go, “Oh my God, you’re bald. You’re ugly.” But I had to catch myself. Would I speak to Samantha that way? I think you have to call yourself out and say, “Would I talk to my best friend like this? Would I talk to my mom like this?” No.

My advice would be to take yourself out of the situation and really put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Talk to yourself like you would a friend. Really, befriend yourself. Encourage yourself. Love yourself. Speak to yourself like you would anyone else you love.