The British ladies of the Women’s Institute did it for a calendar generating millions of pounds and spurring books, a stage play, a musical and a popular movie: Calendar Girls. Fire departments across the western world seem to have jumped on the bandwagon. Farmers, student athletes, models and literary figures. I speak, of course, about nude calendars. Or better said: calendars featuring pictures of nude models.
Such items have become the go to product for charity fund-raising and awareness drives. But why? Do they work? And who buys them anyways? More importantly from a naturist standpoint: do they help to advance our cause or hinder it?
Skin still sells
The why is perhaps the easiest of the questions to answer. These calendars can still seem provocative even after so many have been issued. And provocation sells. It draws attention from customers but more importantly from media. And if the goal of your organization is to increase exposure, what better way than a bit of literal exposure. For better or worse, skin sells and moves products. One might think that the overexposure of charity calendars would diminish their appeals, but so far this doesn’t seem to be the case.
As to the second question, there most evidently be a market for such wares. Or else, they would have disappeared by now. Perhaps they are less exotic or titillating than in the past, but they are effective at generating publicity. As for producing financial returns, that varies greatly from item to item. But the potential return on a very small investment surely would pique the interest of a small organization looking for a way to increase income with little upfront cost. One would think that in the age of Alexa and Siri no ones buys calendars any more. However, someone must be willing to shell out upwards of $20 for a paper planner.
But what, if anything, does this all mean for the naturist? I would say that it depends. Making nudity less taboo and more mainstream can only help our cause in the long run. But too often, these products contain images which are seductive or erotic. In so doing, they sell sex, not naturism. And as naturist we work hard to separate the two things in the wider society’s mind. Images of a buff fireman hosing himself or a woman in high heels sprawled on a fur coat or rug only reinforce the idea that nudity equals sex.
Positive nude calendars
Pieces, such as the aforementioned WI Calendar, steer very clear of sexuality. Rather, they show images that we naturist would choose to represent ourselves: people engaged in everyday and routine activities while free of clothing. We should encourage more of these by buying and promoting them. Or even better, by creating them ourselves. Most naturist clubs and groups are small with limited capital. So again, a calendar can be an ideal fund-raising tool. They can be produced cheaply and distributed relatively so. And these groups have a ready-made, receptive audience for this type of item.
Another huge advantage this type of article is the chance to promote the idea that all bodies are beautiful. Too often, these calendars feature models or well-toned athletes. But when they show regular folks, they can be used to display the full range of human shapes, sizes and shades. This is yet another idea we naturists should be able to get fully behind. And by taking the reins and producing our own, we can ensure that this is done.