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A view from Kevin Chesters

Suspending cynicism to applaud the (better late than never) Pirelli 2016 calendar

While the timing of the Pirelli Calendar turnaround leaves a cynical aftertaste, Kevin Chesters, executive planning director of Mcgarrybowen London, says he'll be ignoring that...

Pirelli has been publishing an ‘arty" version of the garage porn calendar for over fifty years and they’ve never felt the need to "cultivate a sense of artiness" (The Guardian, 01/12/2016) before

So after fifty years of featuring supermodels and even superer-models Pirelli have broken with tradition and launched their 2016 featuring "outstanding professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic" female icons.

An attack of conscience

Now, I am a little suspicious of their Damascene conversion if I’m honest. The people who (along with Victoria Secret & L’oreal) have probably done more to perpetuate the myth of what passes for stereotypical beauty in society suddenly having an attack of conscience.  After all, Pirelli has been publishing an ‘arty" version of the garage porn calendar for over fifty years and they’ve never felt the need to "cultivate a sense of artiness" (The Guardian, 01/12/2016) before. In fact they always seemed a bit like Rigsby in Rising Damp referring to his porn collection as a "hymn of praise to the female form". At least Penthouse were honest about it.

It does strike me as slightly opportunist to join this debate so late in the day after spending five decades perpetuating the stereotype of what constitutes the female ideal. I’m not too sure that people like Pirelli are not as much part of the problem as the solution. But perhaps, like Saul/Paul, they are now trying to clear up the mess that they spent decades creating. So I do genuinely think they should be applauded for that at least. Better late than never.

Still a long way to go

A quick glance at the comments section of the Daily Mail article on the launch will teach you that there is still a long way to go in this debate about what constitutes "real beauty" but we must laud people like Pirelli for trying, if they are genuine about it.

A quick glance at the comments section of the Daily Mail article on the launch will teach you that there is still a long way to go in this debate about what constitutes "real beauty" 

The calendar itself is amazing, by the way. I would expect nothing less of Pirelli (and especially Annie Leibovitz). In fact, it is doubly unsurprising that this is Leibovitz 

because in a way she is the one (ten years before Dove got anywhere near to ‘The Campaign for Real Beauty’) who led this charge when she effectively kicked off this debate for our generation with her pregnant Demi Moore "Vanity Fair" cover in 1991.

Beach body ready

So I’ll suspend my cynicism for now and simply applaud Pirelli for helping to further a debate in a year when Protein World’s 'beach body ready' poster campaign helped to drag it back to the 1960’s (when incidentally Pirelli started their calendars). Add this to the (still depressingly unique) Dove POV on women in advertising and this can only be a positive thing

Does it settle the debate? No.

Does it help to contribute to (and further) the debate on what constitutes beauty, Yes.

Is it better than the Razzle 2016 calendar? Absolutely.

So therefore I’ll applaud them.  And for the expected and consistently amazing photography of Annie Leibovitz I’ll give them extra point for contributing some extra real beauty to the world for 2016. God knows, we need some.