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After 50 years, a controversial calendar surprised the world in a wonderful way.

"I felt I looked more beautiful than I've ever felt in my life," Amy Schumer says about the Pirelli calendar.

After 50 years, a controversial calendar surprised the world in a wonderful way.

Progress is usually measured in calendar years, not calendars themselves. But this may be an exception.

For more than 50 years, Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli has released an annual calendar. Typically filled with pictures of models posing provocatively in various states of undress, the almost always NSFW calendar was the very epitome of the adage "sex sells."

For the 2016 calendar, they decided to try something a little different.


All GIFs from Harper's Bazaar/YouTube.

The 2016 Pirelli calendar features women ranging in age from 19 to 82, and only one of them is a professional model.

This is a marked difference from calendars in past years that featured the likes of Adriana Lima, Kate Moss, Karlie Kloss, Miranda Kerr, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

But the 2016 calendar lineup — shot by Annie Leibovitz — features writer and editor Tavi Gevinson, tennis champion Serena Williams, artist Yoko Ono, author Fran Lebowitz, rock legend Patti Smith, famed producer Kathleen Kennedy, businesswoman Mellody Hobson, director Ava DuVernay, philanthropist Agnes Gund, visual artist Shirin Neshat, model (and Pirelli calendar alum) Natalia Vodianova, and comedian Amy Schumer.


The calendar embraces the fact that women come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. It's a feminist statement.

And that seems to be a sentiment shared by many of the calendar's stars. For example, here's DuVernay, the history-making director of "Selma," on what the calendar's shift means to her.

Neshat echoes those feelings with her own statement. What's interesting, however — and what might actually be the biggest sign that yes, this is a step in the right direction despite there being so much more progress to be made — is how simple these goals seem.

Honoring women based on accomplishment and not solely on youth or appearance shouldn't have to be a statement in and of itself — but it is.

There's no real "shock value" in overt, hyper-sexualized pictorials anymore.

"A white, able-bodied cisgendered woman being naked is just not revolutionary anymore," Rookie Magazine founder and editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson tells the New York Times. "I don't think anyone is going to be like, 'Damn, I wanted those naked chicks.'"

There is no shortage of "naked chicks" in magazines or online. But places that used to use sexualized nudity to draw attention — such as Playboy, which has announced a sunset of the magazine's famous nude photo spreads, and the rebranding efforts of magazines like Maxim — are finding there can be more success in simply taking things from a more real (and less airbrushed) angle.

The 2016 Pirelli calendar promotes self-love and finding your own definition of beauty.

No, it's not "Real women have curves" or Meghan Trainor lyrics about how awful "skinny bitches" are. Those cases simply trade in one pain point for another. We can do better.

Amy Schumer tweeted her picture from the calendar — in which she's wearing nearly nothing — along with a perfect rundown of the contradictions women (and all people, really) are forced to navigate on a daily basis.

But during a behind-the-scenes interview, she really summed up what makes Pirelli's 2016 calendar so great: She can see herself in it. Literally.

And while unlike Schumer, you and I may not actually see ourselves in the pages, maybe we can catch glimpses of ourselves a little bit here or a little bit there in the calendar's pages — the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly — more so than ever before.

2015 saw some great progress for women around the world, and this is a great way to keep up that momentum in the new year. What better way to start 2016 than with some love and acceptance?

Learn more about the making of Pirelli's calendar in this video from Harper's Bazaar.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

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Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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