Miss March wears only a string of pearls and a strategically placed flour sifter. Miss October makes apple cider in the buff, and the December carolers (above) keep warm only with Santa hats. These calendar nudes are a far cry from the usual perky-breasted pinup. The pictures have not been airbrushed, and the models range in age from 44 to 65–the oldest being Miss January, who was photographed chairing a meeting in nothing but a straw hat.
The calendar is the brainchild of England’s 75-year-old and very respectable Rylstone and District chapter of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. More often associated with arranging flowers and making jam than posing nude, the group waged its Calendar Girl Campaign to raise awareness and money for Britain’s Leukaemia Research Fund. The project became more urgent after the husband of one member died from the disease.
“A couple of us were very hesitant,” says Moyra Livesey, who appears as Miss May. “We wouldn’t have done it if our dear friend’s husband hadn’t died. But we wanted to raise money for research, so no one else would have to go through that.”
At press time, sales from the calendar totaled more than $500,000, far surpassing the group’s campaign goal of roughly $6,000. The calendar sold all 3,000 copies on its first day in the U.K., and the members are now considering reprinting it in the U.S.
In addition to raising money for a good cause, the Rylstone women have made an incalculable contribution to countering those tired, narrow-minded notions about beauty, women’s bodies, and aging. This calendar is a study in self-confidence.