Well, as Christmas approaches and you are desperate to get something for Auntie Rhoda, you may be turning to the calendar shops for an inoffensive gift. Cats? Landscape photos? Cartoons of cats? Landscape shots with cats in them?
Probably not a nude girl-y calendar, although the old-fashioned staple of every garage has undergone something of a revolution.
As 1999 became 2000, nude calendars suddenly turned a new page. Some members of a Women's Institute branch in Yorkshire decided to raise funds for a sofa for their local hospital, in memory of the husband of one of them. For American chums, you should understand that the WI has long been regarded as the most Stepford of stuffy wives' clubs in Britain. When the women posed nude for calendar pictures, it was such a brilliant joke (and actually the pictures are tasteful and rather lovely), that the whole thing took off, became an enormous runaway success and their story was made into a heart-warming award-winning film called Calendar Girls (DVD available from Hive for £4.15). To date, the calendar girls have raised about £3M for the leukaemia and lymphona research organisation Bloodwise.
This year, the Oxford women's rugby team have released a nude calendar, featuring gritty black and white photos in the mud. As a former player at the Other Place, I naturally wish I could say I would expect nothing less of the slags in dark blue (wink), but actually you can see that they are spoofing the Dieux du Stade and building on the Calendar Girl legacy rather than cashing in on Pirelli traditions. (BTW, the light blues thrashed the dark blues 52-0 this year *snigger*. Wha-at?!! I think it's a highly relevant fact in the context of this review.)
Women's rugby receives far less funding than the glamourous professional men's sport. However the Oxford University women have removed their strip for charity, not for themselves, and to raise awareness of eating disorders. Let's hope even just looking at the pictures of older women and muscular sportswomen helps us all to realise how diverse and attractive our bodies are.
Meanwhile, over at Pirelli, Annie Liebowitz has been commissioned to photograph women who have achieved something more than posing without very many clothes on. This picture is of Amy Schumer the feminist stand-up comedian. Other women depicted (mostly with their clothes on) include Serena Williams, Yoko Ono and Patti Smith.
Auntie Rhoda might actually like it.