Four Olympic gold medals, a National Book Award and an Emmy may not sound like the qualifications required to land a page in the Pirelli Calendar, which since 1964 has paired top international models with renowned photographers to sell—however incongruously—tires. But this year’s calendar marks a dramatic shift in approach, with photographer Annie Leibovitz suggesting that models be selected on the merit of their accomplishments.
Behind the Scenes of the 2016 Pirelli Calendar Shoot
Courtesy of Annie Leibovitz Studio
Amy Schumer, also known as Miss December, posted her portrait on Instagram Monday with the caption, “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman. Thank you, Annie Leibovitz!” Schumer has been outspoken about body image in the past, with much of her comedy—most notably, her incisive parody of 12 Angry Men—holding up a mirror to the inordinate value placed on women’s appearance. In a video about the making of the calendar, she said, “I felt I looked more beautiful than I’ve ever felt in my life. And I felt like it looked like me.”
Of the twelve models, Schumer, along with Serena Williams, is in the minority in baring nearly all for her portrait. The rest of the women—among them singer/poet/author Patti Smith, Selma director Ava DuVernay, writer Fran Lebowitz, businesswoman Mellody Hobson and artist Shirin Neshat—posed for Leibovitz fully clothed. They range in age from 19 (Tavi Gevinson) to 82 (Yoko Ono) and include among them only one actual model (Natalia Vodianova, who is also a philanthropist). For many of them, Leibovitz’s participation, and the chance to signal a new moment in the recognition of women’s contributions, restored initially raised eyebrows back to their resting positions.
“You have to give them credit for being bold at this moment,” Hobson told the New York Times. “We have a long way to go, but this is part of that journey.”