The 2016 Pirelli Calendar: feminism or sexism?

‘The 2016 Pirelli Calendar_ feminism or sexism_’

The newly released Pirelli Calendar – that is exclusively made for select list of VIPS – has been making headlines for shifting its usual glamorous, half-naked model shots to black and white photographs of talented women in the business, art and sport world. Initially, this may sound like a good thing – Pirelli is covering up their women and, this time, its women who have made a difference to the world!

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Serena Williams photographed by Annie Leibovitz

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate Adriana Lima showing off what Victoria Secret lingerie looks like, (which I could never afford), or having a glance at what Mirander Kerr does on her day off from flashing Pandora bracelets at the cameraman.

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Patti Smith photographed by Annie Leibovitz

The 13 exceptional women this year include Yao Chen; the first Chinese Goodwill Ambassador to the UN, Serena Williams; the winner of 21 Grand Slams and first African America to qualify in tennis, Patti Smith; American singer-songwriter, and American stand-up comedian, Amy Schumer.

Yet what if I told you that some of them aren’t fully clothed but are in fact only wearing panties? Would this defeat the shifting tide that Pirelli are aiming for, as claimed by this year’s award wining photographer Annie Leibovitz, and belittle these pioneering women’s talents and life achievements?

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Yao Chen photographed by Annie Leibovitz

Is it feminist? In a way, the Pirelli calendar elevates the status of talented women by putting them in the same bracket as elite models who are worshipped for their aesthetic beauty in modern times. Often women in leadership roles are dressed up in formal attire and power suits, presenting themselves like a man in a high-ranking political position to ensure they are taken seriously.

But I have this niggling feeling that others won’t agree with me. That dressing down these women and taking Schumer and Williams out of their clothes to pose in a sexualised space is pursuing similar means that the Pirelli calendar is famously known for – showcasing photographs of half-naked women.

As to the question on whether it is sexist, well, how can it be if these women are giving Leibovitz full rein to take photographs of them in the nude? I ask the same question to those who protested and argued it was sexist when half naked models were photographed in the 60s – when the calendar was first founded. Should Schumer and Williams want to show off their soft rolls or bare-naked back, then good for them!

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Amy Schumer photographed by Annie Leibovitz

If Cosmo magazine where to introduce a calendar filled of half naked gorgeous men, do you think men would care? Would they say that it is sexist? Somehow, I think they wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

It seems that this year’s move for the Pirelli calendar is a tiny feminist step to enlightenment. Just because it’s a calendar filled with half-naked women, it doesn’t mean it is sexist. These women wouldn’t give their full consent otherwise.

Either way, it’s going to offend someone like a mother of a teenage daughter, just not the beautiful women featured in the Pirelli calendar.

Written by Mary Grace Nguyen (Chief – Editor of Flock To The Crown) Read her blog, check out her online portfolio and follow her on Twitter.

More information about the Pirelli Calendar can be found here.

Read ‘The F Word’ about the Emma Watson on the He For She campaign written by Hannah Cooper here.

Check out Susie’s piece on Staying Power: The Black British experience at the V & A Museum.

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