Naked Calendars: Bad Taste or Artistic Philanthropy?

Are naked calendars an effective and good way to raise money for charity? Female student rowers at Warwick University appear to think so, and so do I.

The women at Warwick have decided to strip to their birthday suits for next year’s charity calendar in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, and in a bid to combat criticism from feminist students who claimed that their last attempt, involving the rowers stripping down to their underwear, was “tacky”.

These girls should be congratulated on the calendar. If you do something brave (would you want to do it?) and humorous for a very good cause, then you are likely to reap the benefits.

Besides, the Warwick women are not alone. The male rowers at Warwick have also stripped for a calendar supporting the Sports Allies, a programme that combats homophobia. And girls from our very own polo club have made a naked calendar in support for the British Heart Foundation.

In fact, naked calendars for charity or society fundraising are not uncommon for both men and women all over British universities – Cardiff, Exeter, Leeds, Oxford, UCL and UEA have all made their own calendars for charities such as Prostate Cancer UK, CoppaFeel, The Brain Tumour Charity, Anthony Nolan (bone marrow matching), Ride for the Disabled, and Headley Court (a rehabilitation centre for injured servicemen). So what is so wrong with the Warwick ladies’ campaign?

Criticism aimed at these girls seems both an overreaction and cruel. What is so bad about girls posing tastefully and artistically naked for a charity calendar? The only mildly explicit body parts shown in the photos are a few bottoms, and every shot is well photographed, communicating a sense of cheekiness and fun.

The only mildly explicit body parts shown in the photos are a few bottoms

Feminist critics appear to have an odd obsession with women ‘selling themselves’ or ‘being suppressed by male desire’ in such scenarios. Yet the money from this calendar, where the girls look in no way like they are being exploited, is not going into some pimp’s pocket, but is helping people. What is so wrong with that?

Men can pose naked for charity calendars and no one raises an eyebrow. Yet as soon as women show a bit of side-boob in the name of charity, some people go absolutely nuts. This really should not be the case. If we are achieve real equality in this society, we must let people express themselves in whatever way they see fit; if it’s not hurting anyone, indeed, if it’s actually helping many people, then what’s the fuss about?

As soon as women show a bit of side-boob in the name of charity, some people go nuts

For charity anything goes- as long as it’s not criminal. Shave your head, roller-skate to your seminar, bathe in a tub of beans in the middle of a park, pose naked for a calendar, allow people to paint your face however they see fit – do what you can to earn that money and help people in a fun and positive way.

In any case- would you really deny these charities the profits of this fundraising?

Let’s celebrate this fun and charitable activity, not condemn it.

Emily Metcalf

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One Comment
  • Anonymous
    28 October 2013 at 16:30
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    I completely agree with this article. Anyone, men or women, if they feel comfortable in doing it, should be allowed to make their own choices about what they do, whether they want to live as a nun or strip for a charity calendar.

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