— Is the “Great Communicator” turning over in his grave because of his daughter’s most recent — and highly publicized — nude photo shoot?
Actually, maybe not. Patti Davis, long identified as the “black sheep” of former President Ronald Reagan’s children, didn’t bare all in More magazine in a spirit of defiant protest. She’s not trying to shock her conservative parents — or conservatives anywhere, for that matter.
If anything, Davis’ nude image and accompanying essay advance a thesis about the virtues of staying physically fit. She’s 58 years old now, but looks — oh — maybe 28.
“My body is the house I live in, and I’ve never stopped trying to make it better,” Davis writes. “I don’t understand the common attitude that after 40, you might as well just accept that your body is going to sag and fold and expand in unflattering ways. Really? Our muscles are actually pretty democratic; if we work them, they’ll respond.”
This isn’t the first time Davis has posed in the nude. She appeared in Playboy magazine back in 1994 when she was 42 — double the age of a typical Playmate. In her essay in More magazine, she describes the much-criticized Playboy photo shoot as her “victory lap,” a personal triumph after years of abusing her body and mind through drug addictions.
She explains that she was hooked on pharmaceutical amphetamines, speed and later cocaine from age 15 until her late 20s. At age 34 she wandered into a gym, gripped by a desire to feel stronger.
“My body was wasted, my muscles thin and barely visible,” she recalls in her essay. “I resolved to work my way back to health.”
Eight years later, when the Playboy opportunity presented itself, she didn’t recoil from it. Instead, she felt gratified — and, to this day, she says she still feels proud of that photo shoot.
“This was standing naked in front of the world when it was a miracle that I was even still in the world,” she writes. “I am proof that it isn’t that easy to die, because from the age of 15, well into my 20s, I was working on dying. Most addicts are.”
During a recent kickboxing workout, Davis’ teacher observed that her body is in better shape now than it was when she was 42.
Her teacher’s observation made her stop and think. It occurred to her that he was right. Her muscles are now leaner and more defined. She feels and looks fabulous physically.
Davis opted to do the essay and photo shoot with More magazine to show that a regular routine of exercise can pay huge dividends for any person, at any age.
“I’ve learned to stand in front of the mirror and look at the strength reflected there — the hours of training, the miles of running, the years of distance between the strong woman I am now and the wasted girl I once was,” Davis writes. “We do, after all, have a relationship with ourselves in the mirror.”