When you think of Pamela Anderson, a particular image probably conjures in your head. A blonde bombshell in a red swimsuit on the set of Baywatch, or perhaps a model posing nude for the cover of Playboy. These images of Anderson have crafted a public persona of her, informing people’s opinions of her, and for the most part, determining the trajectory of her career. The actor, model and activist has spent a lot of her life in the spotlight, with other people determining who she was, her sense of self and her humanity getting lost to those images.
Recently, Anderson released a documentary, “Pamela, A Love Story”, and a memoir, “Love, Pamela”, finally telling her side of the story. In it, we learn of a tumultuous upbringing, her mother and father’s relationship mirroring the types of toxic relationships that Anderson herself would go on to have. We learn of a child who was repeatedly abused, and finding herself in situations where she had no say in what was happening to her.
At 22, she was discovered in the crowd at a football game and was asked to shoot a commercial for Labatt’s beer. Not long after, Playboy called and she was thrown into modelling, having to be coaxed to pose nude, and throwing up after her first photoshoot, this loss of control was a constant theme in her life.
Yet, she threw herself into everything fully and wholeheartedly, from her projects to her philanthropy to her relationships, often wearing her heart on her sleeve. Now, after 30 years in the spotlight, she has become a woman who is tired of her portrayal. Through her good-natured spirit and sense of humor, Anderson is fighting her hardest to get people to finally see the person behind the image.
As an actor, Pamela Anderson is most well-known for her portrayal of CJ Parker in the television series Baywatch. One of the most successful television shows of all time, Anderson went from being a Playboy Bunny to a household name almost overnight.
The most-watched television series in the world at the time, 1.1 billion people tuned in every week, and a phenomenon was created that has been referred to as “Pamela clauses” where international broadcasters were only interested in buying the episodes in which she appeared.
Before this, she appeared as Lisa in the first two seasons of Home Improvement and has appeared in many television series and movies since then.
Reclaiming Her Image
You may have seen ads recently for an HGTV show starring Pamela Anderson called, “Pamela’s Garden of Eden”. Set in her childhood town, Ladysmith British Columbia, on Vancouver Island, the show follows Anderson as she renovates the house that she bought from her grandmother. This is a huge separation from the types of shows that she’s known for, as, for the first time ever, she’s in control, and the show focuses on her in nature, doing something she loves, that makes her happy.
She’s been focusing a lot more on these kinds of projects recently, she also has a vegan cooking show set to debut in 2024, and she has spent a lot of time writing. Did you know that beyond her memoir, Anderson has written poetry collections, “Patches of Life” being one of them, and children’s books? She’s an avid reader who finds her life blood in writing, something that distances her a lot from the “dumb blonde” persona we’re so used to.
Of course, she hasn’t retreated from public view completely, making headlines around the world for daring to appear barefaced during Paris Fashion Week, and for trending on Tik Tok with the hashtag “#Pamcore”, the resurgence in interest in 90s fashion leading many to try to imitate her style. She also appeared in the 2022 Broadway production of Chicago as Roxie Hart, her first time performing since 2019.
It’s hard to talk about Pamela Anderson without mentioning her activism, in particular, her outspoken loyalty to the vegan diet, which she has been following since her early twenties, and her partnership with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She has starred in many advertising campaigns for PETA and has gone on to influence politicians in their stances on the rights and uses of animals, notably, when she was successful in convincing the Russian government to ban all seal meat imports in 2015.
She also founded the Pamela Anderson Foundation which partners with “organizations and individuals that stand on the front lines in the protection of human, animal, and environmental rights”. The Foundation, in addition to partnering with PETA, also partners with many other charities, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF).
Pamela Anderson, the human being, is far more than an image.
Lily Frances | Staff Writer