Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, and more team up in Pirelli 2017 calendar to protest airbrushing

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Kayleigh Dray
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Once upon a time, the Pirelli calendar was filled with naked supermodels, each celebrating the unattainable perfection of the ‘dream’ female body. It was, without a doubt, a prime example of the objectification of women – but that all changed when, for their 2016 edition, they teamed up with Annie Leibowitz to celebrate “strong but natural women” who have “achieved something” incredible.

And it seems as if the 2017 Pirelli Calendar is set to be just as empowering.

Shot by Peter Lindbergh, it features 14 internationally renowned actors, including Helen Mirren, 71, Kate Winslet, 41, Nicole Kidman, 49, Lupita Nyong’o, 33, Rooney Mara, 31, and Jessica Chastain, 39.

Also included is Uma Thurman, 46, Charlotte Rampling, 70, Julianne Moore, 55, Alicia Vikander, 28, Lea Seydoux, 31, Zhang Ziyi, 37, and Robin Wright, 50.

And, in a step away from the spotlight, Lindbergh has also praised women in academia; Anastasia Ignatova, professor of Political Theory at MGIMO - Moscow State University of International Relations, also has a starring role in his calendar.

While not one of these incredible women strips off for the series of honest black and white portraits, Lindbergh has sought to strip them down to their “very soul” – and, in doing so, has celebrated “another kind of naked”, which he views as “more important than body parts”.

Speaking at a launch event for the calendar in Paris, Lindbergh explained: “In a time when women are represented in the media and everywhere else, as ambassadors of perfection and youth, I thought it was important to remind everyone that there is a different beauty. 

“More real and truthful and not manipulated by commercial or any other interests, a beauty which speaks about individuality, courage to be yourself and your own private sensibility...”

With this in mind, the photographer encouraged his subjects to go makeup-free, and chose not to airbrush his images whatsoever.

Praising Lindbergh’s vision, Thurman thanked him for trying to “free women from oppressive and false standards.”

Winslet echoed the Kill Bill star’s comments, saying: “I asked Peter to specifically photograph the backs of my hands.

“Why do we always have to look like a fresher version of our age? Isn’t it ok to just be 40, or 50?”

Kidman added: “Female power is the courage to be yourself, to be able to walk into a room and be yourself.”

And Moore, who admitted she had felt less than confident about going bare-faced in front of the camera, thanked Lindbergh for reminding her that she is ‘perfect’ just the way she is.

“He celebrates the soulfulness and doesn’t think anyone isn’t beautiful,” she said. “He’s so loving.”

Lindbergh has chosen the title 'Emotional' for his calendar, in order to emphasize how the idea behind his photos was “to create a calendar not around perfect bodies, but on sensitivity and emotion, stripping down to the very soul of the sitters, who thus become more nude than naked.”

You can watch a behind the scenes video for the calendar below: