The Continuing Phenomenon Of The Charity Nude Calendar

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The amateur nude calendars that have become remarkably widespread over the last two decades.

What started as a gimmick is now, seemingly, an integral part of the new year – the charity nude calendar, posed by members of organisations and sold in varying numbers internationally. While we can argue about where it all began, the explosion certainly began with the Women’s Institute calendar that went on sale in 1999 and became a global phenomenon, even inspiring a feelgood movie starring Helen Mirren. The popularity of that opened the floodgates, and while no one has managed anything like the success of that effort, you can guarantee that a nude calendar will get local newspaper headlines (or possibly national press coverage if the models are sexy enough) and make a bit of money for a chosen charity or held fund an organisation. While every calendar will have the odd prude muttering about ‘porn’, and some find themselves banned by either employers or the very organisations that they are raising money for, most people recognise these as nothing more than light-hearted fun – a plsy on the traditional calendars featuring glamour models or hunky semi-naked men, and not usually designed to be taken too seriously. Some university sporting organisations have turned it into an annual event, with new intakes of students putting aside fears of objectification to strip off. The calendars seem especially popular with rugby and rowing clubs – make what you will of that.

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Oxford University Women’s Rugby Club 2016
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Warwick University Rowing Club 2013

There are unwritten rules to these things, none of which are absolute but which seem widespread enough to be almost a template. The first, and most important, is the level of nudity on display. There’s a certain level of tastefulness required, to make the calendar acceptable to both buyers and models. Bare buttocks are fine, but female nipples need to be covered while still showing as much breast as possible; clearly, genitalia or pubic hair are entirely forbidden. It’s often cheeky and teasing rather than overtly sexy, albeit still a bit much for Instagram or Facebook.

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Newcastle University Rowing Club
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Around The Farm 2015

Secondly, it seems that monochrome is the chosen style for the more up-market or serious calendar, perhaps because black and white photography is seen to add a touch of class – yes, some of these calendars seem to be aiming at the ‘tasteful erotica’ market. While some are cheerfully basic, others actually seem to take themselves rather seriously. It’s notable that while some calendars feature all shapes and ages of models, others very much go for men or women who look not unlike the models you might find on commercial sexy calendars – if you’ve got it, flaunt it, I guess, and of course sporty types are more likely to be physically fit types.

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Cambridge University 2016
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Warwick University 2015

Beyond that, you can have mixes of men and women if your organisation allows, a sense of humour or dour seriousness and pretty much anything you want. Of course, some calendars go for more nudity than is conventional – if your models are willing to bare all (or at least more) then that’s something to consider, though it might close off some markets and lose public sympathy – when the Australian Women’s football team – known as The Matildas – appeared fully nude in an artful 2000 calendar, for example, they were savaged for promoting porn and degrading female sports. Other calendars go the opposite way and are much more about novelty value than actual bare flesh.

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Either way, these calendars don’t seem to be going away any time soon. In fact, they have become a worldwide phenomenon – though perhaps less popular in America, where a level of prudishness still equates any sort of nudity with porn – and if anything, the numbers increase every year. Sales will be relatively low for most (and you have to wonder how much of it is about exhibitionism and narcissism rather than fund raising), but they remain a popular way of bringing in extra funding and entertaining friends and family. We’ve yet to convince the Reprobate crew to strip off to help us raise funding, though…