After watching Calendar Girls with my 9 years old son in the background it was time to take him to bed. As I was tucking him in he asked me: “So, what did you learn?” I stopped, surprised. I shouldn’t have been surprised. He knows me. He knows I always find something to learn from the movies. But he saw my surprised face and said: “What? I know you liked it. You were not just watching it. So, what did you learn?” And I responded: “I learned that there is a close relation between enjoying life and accepting one’s body.” He nodded and closed his eyes.
The word of which I was really thinking was empowerment. Those old ladies really got empowered by embracing their nudity. Yes, flesh sells and they became famous. Yet they were empowered, not by their fame or the money they raised, but rather by the very act of accepting their bodies. Of course, their inspiration played a role also. They embraced their nudity because they believed the words of John Baker, that flowers look more beautiful in their last stage. John Baker died of leukemia shortly after writing those words and the widow and her friends created a calendar featuring their naked bodies creatively posing behind flowers, pots, baked goods and the like, in order to raise funds to buy a new sofa for the relatives’ room at the hospital where John died. The calendar raised more than expected and they were able to make substantial donations for research to find a cure for leukemia.
Empowerment was what made Ruth confront her husband and his lover and let them be while she flew to Hollywood to appear in Leno’s show. After that moment she looked prettier and happier. Good for her. No begging him to stay with her, no scenes of jealousy wife, no crying in front of him. Ok, maybe the movie showed her in denial but she certainly did right in accepting herself and moving on. She even said that maybe she was dead before but not anymore.
Empowerment was what made Chris move the calendar, find sponsors, and become an entrepreneur in a sense. That had a cost for her family. In that sense the movie was more realistic. However her husband was so understanding that I wondered if men like him really exist. He was more than understanding; he was supportive. He told her he wanted her to have all that. She wanted her to get all the attention and busy life she got because of the calendar. It takes a very secure man to want his wife to have all that.
My son was right. I learned from the movie. I wish all the women in the world would learn too about empowerment and accepting one’s body. I wish all of us could celebrate our bodies and the beauty of a real un-retouched naked body without exploitation, without false expectations, without unrealistic standards, without abuse or violence. I wish all of us could experience empowerment.