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.

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.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

Keep Reading Show less