11 responses to “Calendar Girls: Sexification Strikes Yet Another Serious Health Condition”

  1. Ouyang Dan

    The message seems to be twofold: 1) Women with chronic illnesses can still be sexy, albeit in ways that are approved and encouraged by the culturally sanctioned gold standard of sexualized, “feminine” display; and 2) This sexiness can be channeled into photographs for public display and consumption, so long as the goal is to “raise awareness” of chronic illness and disability.

    Well done. Really well broken down.

    (Thought I would get the comments going w/ some love. People click through when they see comments. “Oh! What did that person say?”)

  2. meloukhia

    This is an interesting variation on the “cause calendar” theme; usually, people involved in the cause are featured in the calendar. Breast cancer cancers feature breast cancer survivors, fire/ems calenders feature ems personnel, and so forth.

    But it seems like here, some of the people involved did not have the disability the calendar was raising funds for, or were tangentially associated (family members had it). This actually leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth beyond the usual bitter taste such things leave me with: Because it erases the people with the actual disability.

    As usual. It’s about “advocating for” people with disabilities, instead of, say allowing people with disabilities to pose/advocate for themselves. If they felt like the calendar would sell better with women who are conventionally attractive, could they have at least TRIED to find women who met those criteria who are disabled in some way, even if they don’t have fibro? Could we have centered the calendar on disability, since it’s about disability, rather than on naked women?
    .-= meloukhia´s last blog ..How To Evaluate A Source of Information =-.

  3. kaninchenzero

    It would have been a more interesting project if the photos had been of the broader range of persons with fibromyalgia syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (yes the Beauty Standard-approved Ms. Embley but also older persons, fat people, people of color, queer and trans and intersex and asexual) asserting their right to be perceived as beautiful and desirable (if being desired is, for them, a positive quality) and not just broken. And photographed in poses that placed as little stress on the models as possible rather than the usual sort of cheesecake poses — they were a lot of work the last time I tried holding them. There probably aren’t many people with FMS/ME in the modeling world but there are plenty outside of it and it wouldn’t be that much work to find some willing to participate in a respectful, artistic awareness project.

    Of course my calendar concept probably wouldn’t have sold as well, not catering directly to the so-coddled male gaze.

  4. Anemone

    I’ve never understood these calendars, and I don’t assume that “sex sells” since my own research on film content shows that it’s a significant negative in film.

    Instead of giving us sex and nudity, why not feature disabled women doing amazing things (e.g. being athletic or fashionable)? Many of us can do amazing things and are not disabled across the board. I think that would be a lot more fun.
    .-= Anemone´s last blog ..Dissociation and denial (trigger warning) =-.

  5. llevinso

    I don’t understand this calendar, or calendars like these, at all. For one thing, it completely erases the disability that they are trying to raise awareness/money for. And then it also objectifies and sexualizes women. You know, it is possible to have a beautiful calendar that highlights disability issues without women taking off their clothes and still having them be seen as empowered or beautiful or what have you (since that what it SEEMS the calendar wanted to do in reading the other articles about it).

  6. Tera

    See, now, I want kaninchenzero’s calendar. That would be awesome.

    The Polka Dot Girls calendar reminds me of the RethinkingAutism campaign. The idea behind it is basically, “If Jenny McCarthy can use sex to peddle pseudoscience, we’ll use sex to talk about real science and respect for autistic people!” But, as Ed at The Standard Review points out in Not Rethinking Autism:

    There is nothing new about having other people who display the achievement of meeting all the bigoted and prejudiced standards speak for those who don’t. This is “about us without us” at its worst.

    This kind of thing is what frustrates me about many awareness/face of __ campaigns. Because there’s this sense that the public can only accept the people who are “just like you!,” as if civil rights can be won with a trickle. What we really need to do is break the dam down.
    .-= Tera´s last blog ..Rosemary =-.

  7. calyx

    Yeah… a lot of fail there. The only real value the calendar would have (apart from the MONEY raised) would be challenging the idea that all disability is visible… or maybe challenging the idea that a woman has to be considered like you’d consider purchasing a prize cow, in the prime of “health” to be considered sexually eligible.

    Except that not everyone in the calendar is disabled… so that dilutes that challenge RIGHT THERE. I also feel that for some men, whether a chick is crippled with pain is irrelevant for how fuckable she is – she just has to look HOT.

    Not much of a challenge to what is considered attractive here.

  8. Tera

    Speaking of calendars and oppressive cultural notions of beauty, Queen Emily has a post on Questioning Transphobia about a calander in Spain wherein trans women pose as the Virgin Mary and the pushback: Trans Virgin Marys and other such heresies.
    .-= Tera´s last blog ..Rosemary =-.

  9. kitrona

    From the article: “It causes chronic pain throughout the body, more painful than chronic arthritis.”

    Trying to keep my language toned down, but… WHAT? You cannot compare one debilitatingly painful condition with another, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE THAT CONDITION YOURSELF!! (And when you DO have both conditions, it’s even odds which one is causing any particular pain in the first place!)

    I just… buh…. NO. (And hey, I managed not to use any swear words!)

  10. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    Part of my problem with this sort of calendar is that it leaves women with the disability who aren’t Beauty 2K compliant feeling less sexy than ever.

    In addition, of course, to all the objections already raised.
    .-= Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.´s last blog ..9/11 still killing =-.