The 2016 Pirelli Calendar May Signal a Cultural Shift

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amy Schumer Poses Nude: The Radical Power of Her ‘Beautiful, Gross’ Photo.

For more than half a century, Italian tire maker Pirelli has released an annual calendar full of photos of supermodels in pin-up poses wearing skimpy lingerie or nothing at all.The annual calendar produced by Pirelli tyres – which traditionally centres on the artfully-lit nude bodies of female supermodels – was unveiled on Monday, presenting a dramatic shift in subject matter and aesthetic.Annie Leibovitz has struck a blow for feminism by putting clothed high-achieving women on the 2016 Pirelli calendar, breaking with the tradition of nudity associated with the product.

Considering the 2015 version of the iconic Pirelli calendar was a fetish-themed shoot starring some of the world’s most famous models (think Adriana Lima, Joan Smalls, Gigi Hadid, Isabeli Fontana) in various stages of undress, it may come as a surprise to learn the 2016 version is very different. This year’s iteration marks a drastic departure from the form: The calendar’s models are luminaries of art, business, sports, and philanthropy, photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

Leibovitz chose to shoot 12 “women of achievement” including chairwoman of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, Selma director Ava DuVernay and singer Patti Smith, taking a minimalist approach to photoshopping. In fact, the only two women who appear in partial nudity are Amy Schumer and Serena Williams, who’ve each been targeted by body-shamers over the past year. In the photo, Schumer is nude with nothing but a pair of underwear and some heels on, her arms opting to conceal her nipples instead of the rolls on her stomach as she slouches, and holding a coffee cup as the flash of a bulb startles her face startles into a candid, quite beautiful pose.

Tennis player Serena Williams and actress Amy Schumer dared to bare, both women opting to showcase their differing body shapes in semi-nude shots. “I’m a great admirer of comediennes. Yoko Ono, Ava DuVernay, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, Patti Smith, author Fran Lebowitz, actress Yao Chen, and Tavi Gevinson show up in the calendar, too. “I wanted the pictures to show the women exactly as they are, with no pretense,” Leibovitz told Vogue of the studio portraits. Asked whether the photos had been subject to digital enhancement after the shoot, Leibovitz said: “There’s very little work done on this, it’s done black and white…There might be a little cleaning up, but they’re pretty straightforward. The calendar isn’t for sale; as in past years, it’ll be gifted to 20,000 “VIPs, musicians, politicians, and royalty.” The nudity of Williams and Schumer stands in stark contrast to Pirelli’s usual M.O.

It’s as if she didn’t get the memo saying that she could keep her clothes on.” Schumer herself had this to say on the image “I felt I was more beautiful than I’ve ever felt in my life.” She also shared the image to her 2.6 million followers on twitter: “I started to think about the roles that women play, women who have achieved something. Previous decades have seen the world’s top professional beauties showcasing individual exposed, oiled-up body parts—with their faces, at times, cropped out—in what amounted to a fancified soft-core porn magazine. She said that when originally approached by Pirelli she suggested using performance artists or female comedians as a “take up” of past calendars as she did not believe they would be able to make an immediate shift from supermodels and actresses to celebrating women who were making a difference in the world. I thought that the women should look strong but natural and I decided to keep it a very simple exercise of shooting in the studio.” Explained Leibovitz.

Williams’s photo was “not a nude but a body study”, she said, while Schumer’s was a comic conceit: “The idea was that she was the only one who had not got the memo about wearing clothes.” To the uninitiated, the Pirelli calendar might sound like a tatty document destined to hang in a mechanics’ garage. Leibovitz admitted that the the idea of photographing distinguished women was a “departure” for the calendar but denied it was a ”watershed moment”. “I don’t want to think of this as a watershed moment as much as a shift to being on top. Taken as a whole, the archive testifies to the longtime persistence of one particular beauty ideal in fashion and mainstream media, one that can rarely accommodate a roll of fat, bulge of muscle, or pinch of age-spotted skin. It’s easy to sound trite or maybe even patronizing when praising a famous person for embracing their body, and for being candid about all the insecurities they still acknowledge. But to deny the power not just in Schumer’s involvement in this calendar but also in the way she has shared the photo would be an injustice to the effect it will undeniably have. “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman,” she captioned the photo when she posted it on Twitter and on Instagram Monday morning.

In any state of dress or undress, Schumer and Williams have been scrutinized for their looks, and both have resisted pressure to retreat into more modest clothing or a different strength-training regimen. Monday’s slick launch event, in the grand ballroom of the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane, London, underlined the seriousness with which Pirelli takes the calendar as a marketing exercise. The world’s media gathered for the unveiling of the images, listening as Clare Balding interviewed Leibovitz and three of the calendar’s subjects – Gevunson, Gund and Chen – on stage, while headsets translated proceedings into four languages. The company’s chief executive, Marco Tronchetti Provera, said the company had been looking to make a departure this year, one that felt “very timely.

Otherwise you’re just projecting a false pride, convincing yourself that you’ve accepted parts of your body that you don’t like merely because a body-positive movement says you will be happier if you do. Schumer has always been candid about her body image, partly because she recognizes the radical power of being a successful and sexual woman in Hollywood while not having the body type of a waifish clothing rack with cartoon boobs. I think the company has wanted to shift for a few years and my mandate was that they wanted to see some change.” During a behind-the-scenes film shown at the launch, the photographer’s almost-namesake Lebowitz offered a slightly different analysis: “Perhaps clothed women are going to have a moment.” How many interviews has Schumer sat through, forced to answer questions about being a “trailblazer” because she’s carved a place for herself in showbusiness without being a size zero? The brilliant comedian that she is, she’s used it as part of her comedy, especially in an often repeated bit about how in L.A. her arms register as legs. (It’s a good bit, even if we’ve heard her perform it so often by this point we could recite it ourselves.) The eloquent human that she is—the one who has been so incomparably gifted at channeling our own frustrations and complicated feelings with a razor-sharp wit laced with surprising shocks of emotion—she’s also used this candor to be more authentic than most celebrities have ever been about what it’s been like to be insecure with your body while under the scrutinizing gaze of the public eye.

And then eventually conquer that. “Some nights I just didn’t even want to go on stage because I couldn’t find an outfit I looked good in,” she said on the Today show last month. Then, tearfully, “It’s been a struggle for me my whole life, especially just being in the entertainment industry, standing on a stage in front of people. Sometimes I would just want to throw in the towel and say, ‘I’m not going to do stand-up tonight.’” We don’t often let our strong role models to have chink in their armor, especially ones that betray any sort of emotion or vulnerability. So it’s with a careful honed grace, sharpened from so much of that, that Schumer shares the photo with the perfect message, a collection of words that some will use to describe how she looks, that she will use to describe her looks as her relationship to the photo and her body evolves (like all of us do with our own), and that actually mean something real—more real than any rote “this is beautiful!” plastic endorsement.

In an episode of Inside Amy Schumer that spoofed 12 Angry Men, jurors did not debate whether the defendant (played by Schumer) was guilty of committing murder, but instead the crime of not being hot enough to be on TV. At one point, one of the jurors bemoans the end of the days where only women as sexy and perfect as Marilyn Monroe—the iconic pin-up girl—were allowed on TV.

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