Ontario calendar girls draw sharp criticism
Published Tuesday, December 11, 2012 11:57AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 11, 2012 11:59AM EST
With a white towel draped over her bare chest, Marguerite Cook grins as she points two black boxing gloves at a nearby punching bag. A glimpse of her naked hip reveals an angular red tattoo, the logo of her local hockey team.
At 98-years-old, Cook has joined a long line of firefighters, swimsuit models and bold do-gooders who have agreed to peel off their clothes for a photographer -- and ultimately charity.
But despite their best intentions, Cook and several other Peterborough, Ont. women have been criticized for appearing in a sporty calendar to raise money for affordable housing in their community.
Since its release, the calendar’s creators say “Peterborough’s Got Game” has been accused of being pornographic and exploitive to older women.
“You always expect when you do something like this that you’re not going to please everybody,” said Donna Clarke, executive director of Homegrown Homes, the charity benefiting from sales of the calendar.
But some of the disapproval, said Clarke, has been aggressive and confrontational.
Speaking to CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday, Clarke said the Homegrown Homes has received several angry, anonymous calls about the calendar. Most callers block their phone numbers, she said.
The models in “Peterborough’s Got Game” are scantily-clad, but not entirely naked. Some are shown posing with strategically placed hockey bags and elbow pads.
Karen Sisson, one of the calendar models, said she didn’t anticipate the negative response. Though initially reluctant to appear on camera, Sisson said the photos were elegantly composed.
“There was a bit of trepidation,” she told Canada AM Tuesday. “But because it was for charity, we knew it was going to be tastefully done. It was fine.”
The tradition of posing barely-there in charity calendars owes much of its popularity to Britain’s “Calendar Girls,” a group of women who raised money for cancer research by appearing nude in a 1999 calendar. Their story later inspired a feature film starring Helen Mirren.
For Clarke, the goal is not a feature film.
Homegrown Homes has printed 3,000 calendars. If all of them are sold at the $20 asking price, Clarke said the non-profit will be able to provide affordable housing to two more families.