What if you put it all out there – and nobody wanted it?
I mean, physical appearance is supposed to be every woman’s back-up schtick. It’s a classic made-for-TV (movie or reality show) scenario: physics Ph.D. candidate by day, stripper by night, just to make ends meet. Former rocket scientist turned professional escort, for the better work conditions. (Those are just the lighter examples of too many too real situations where women have different levels of control over exchanging their sexuality for funds.)
And as we’ve learned, to the beauty industry’s delight, there’s never a good excuse to “let yourself go.” Aging legs still need to be shaved, or waxed or whatever – when you’re showing them off, you just need a different attitude than a hot, young thing might, as the older British women who inspired the movie “Calendar Girls” and have to date made several millions for leukemia research showed.
Of course, “hot young thing in a bikini” is a sure hit. Recently Ryanair flight attendants made a 2008 calendar to sell, pulling in over 100 thousand dollars for charity. That’s thanks in part to publicity from a Spanish government women’s agency protesting the sexism of the calendar, according to a nyah-nyah statement from Ryanair. So I’m guessing the company’s next donation will be to a European version of N.O.W.
So it’s clear. Whether you look like you should be advertising for Victoria’s Secret or as one of Dove’s “Real Women” (and fine looking they are, and professionally made-up, lit and photographed; you want really real, check out my bathroom mirror in the morning), there’s only one thing for a gal to do if she wants cash for a good cause – strip down and start shooting.
Which is exactly what some middle-aged mommies (sorry, the phrase is inevitable) who wanted to raise money for a youth center in their tiny (population 400) rural village in Western Spain thought. They did try lotteries and raffles. But when that didn’t bring in enough, the mothers of all seven students in the village undressed, covered the naughty bits with tinsel or fur pelts, and made their own calendar.
It was an amateur venture – they took each other’s pictures since they didn’t have money for a professional photographer. Still, they hoped it would appeal enough to sell several thousand copies at 5 euros (almost $8) a calendar.
So is this a story with a happy ending? Was the calendar so popular that the latest trend for women all over Spain is to draw fake stretch marks on their bodies with eyeliner? Can we say that good humor and a good cause will let the eye see beyond low production values? Well, no, not yet. The net result: almost 9000 euros of debt to the printer (over $14,000) and the youth center is still a dream.
The calendar sold at first, but, you know, somehow they missed the Christmas sales rush, and well…Of course that was before the press attention to their plight, so maybe sales will pick up. The women came up with the idea for what the Associated Press called a “tongue in cheek” erotic calendar, as a light-hearted way to raise money. And they are goofy pictures, of attractive, normal women but who had no professional photography/media-savvy/airbrushing/posing advice (now that’s shocking!). Here you go, you can see for yourself, and decide whether you’d like it hanging on your fridge.
It’s an interesting message for the village’s children. We care enough about you to want you to have a center. What’s the best way to get money? Sell nudie pictures of mommy. But gee, nobody wanted them. (And is that the secret nightmare behind every letter Oprah receives from a bedraggled mom begging for a makeover, or what? You get it all together, and no one cares.) We’ll just hope they get a little drop-in family counseling area in the center if it’s ever built.
Maybe there were a few more options to try before resorting to the old standby of flesh for cash. What about cashing in on other stereotypes? There’s always a bake sale.