The Pirelli Calendar is kind of a big deal. It was created fifty years ago by the tire company as an artsy way to advertise their products. It is known for capturing images of beautiful women in the nude, one for each month. By portraying beauty standards throughout the years, the Calendar is like a time capsule. Another novelty of the calendar is that every year a different photographer is given creative control over the project. For the 2016 calendar, photographer Annie Leibovitz was given the job. The women that Leibovitz has selected to grace this upcoming year’s calendar are very different from years previous; instead of selecting her models based on superficial beauty, she has selected them based on their merit and achievements. In years past, the calendar has featured a fully nude Kate Moss, most of Gisele Bündchen’s bare skin, and a topless Naomi Campbell. In contrast, the 2016 calendar will star Yoko Ono, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, and Patti Smith among others. The only woman featured this year who actually models for a living is Natalia Vodianova, but she is also known for her philanthropic work with the Naked Heart Foundation and is photographed in the 2016 calendar with her infant son. Another way Leibovitz’s calendar will differ from years previous is that most of the models will be fully clothed. The few exceptions are photographed in the nude but not in a sexualized or provocative way. Amy Schumer’s page leaves little to the imagination but is of appropriately of a comedic nature while Serena Williams’ page spotlights her athletic strength and power. By highlighting the strengths and achievements of this year’s models, the 2016 Pirelli Calendar seems to be a reflection of the liberal public’s current unwillingness to objectify and sexualize women. If the calendar does indeed act as an indicator of what society values at the time, this change in subject matter may signify a cultural shift in how we value women. The female role models of 2016 are not women who represent unattainable beauty standards but women of talent, intelligence, and personal strength. Disclaimer: physical beauty and sexuality are nothing to be ashamed of. However previous Pirelli calendars have perpetuated impossible beauty standards and have exploited the female body to sell tires. Not good. According to Jennifer Zimmerman, the global chief strategy officer for the McGarryBowen advertising agency, “we are in the midst of a perfect storm of cultural icons and politics and Hollywood. Between the first credible woman presidential candidate, all the powerful female characters on television from ‘Supergirl’ to ‘Madam Secretary’ to ‘Scandal,’ the pressure for parity in pay, it is impossible to ignore the empowerment of women.” But is the 2016 Calendar reflecting this “perfect storm” or is it just exploiting a gaining social movement to make a profit? This question may not be answered until next year depending on whether or not the next photographer decides to perpetuate Leibovitz’s example and select women based on their strengths or retreat back to Pirelli’s traditional material. Artist and model for the 2016 calendar Shirin Neshat hopes that Pirelli won’t switch back to photographing photo-shopped models: “it would be a huge disappointment,” if the 2017 calendar were to “abandon the idea of the women who define modern life, and go back to sexy girls who are too young to have accomplished anything.” Although Pirelli and Liebovitz’s calendar have been lauded by many for their feminist renovation, there is a chance the 2017 calendar may bring back the supermodels. Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti reassured fans that their sexy women will return: “it is the one thing Chinese, Italians and Russians can all agree on — we’ll never give it up.” This is not good. And it appears there are many who want the calendar to return to its traditional subject matter. Just take a look on Yahoo!’s web article about the 2016 calendar; every single comment is enough to make you gag. Although society is becoming better at recognizing institutionalized sexism, we still have a long way to go. Here’s to hoping 2017 will bring, as Amy Schumer tweeted, “beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman.”

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