Selling nudes for charity: The naked calendar uncovered

For many, the thought of posing in the nude in front of a camera with very little to preserve your dignity is perhaps a little too much on the scary side, even if it is for charity. While for others, holding nothing but a hockey-stick or harp feels more like second nature. Why is it then that some societies have been far more willing to participate than others?

We are of course talking about the time which has come around once again, almost too literally perhaps; for what the Raising and Giving (RAG) society have gradually become synonymous with: getting people to strip off. As eyebrow-raising as this might sound for some, the nationwide initiative has gone from strength to strength in raising money for a myriad of different charities among several RAG societies across the country, from Exeter to Reading, Cambridge to Oxford. Last year’s calendar, which included several of UEA’s clubs and societies raised just over £450 for Emergency UK and this year RAG have high hopes to exceed this figure for mental health charity, SANE, whose mission it is to improve the ‘quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness’. As Harriet Davies, President of RAG, conveys, mental health is something that “many can relate to in one way or another, even if not directly.” She adds that “the thought itself is scarier than actually doing it. Essentially you are selling nudes for charity, while boosting confidence with friends. It’s a novel experience.

“If you are not so confident but still want to take part, we can work around it. And we’ve made it quite clear that it doesn’t have to be the entire committee – it could even be a handful of individuals, including members.”

One such society which has decided to take that “leap of faith” is Music, who also took part in the previous years’ calendar. “The charity is really important to us” explains the President of the Music Society, Hayden Allen, referring to the relationship between mental health, music and the arts. “Part of the reason why we take part is because we are used to performing; people are less introverted. I’m sure there are some members who are unsure at first, but it is about unlocking that confidence, and we allow them to do that..”

But where ideas of body image and confidence tend to dominate the conversation, there are other longer term factors which inhibits certain societies back from participating, future employers seeing this in years to come for one. Among several societies making the decision to not partake is the Nursing Society for this very reason. Speaking on behalf of the society is Secretary, Andriena Richie, who shares with Concrete: “Taking part in RAG’s naked calendar goes against the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code of conduct – which we are bound by.

“We have a duty [to promote] professionalism both in and outside of the clinical environment and it’s the same reason why we can’t post pictures in our uniform.”

The NMC Code of Conduct essentially is a guideline to promoting professional standards of practice within the field. Admittedly Harriet from RAG confirms that “it really is not worth the risk.” Though they have purportedly “never received a negative word” Harriet is certain that “there are some people who won’t agree with the calendar” deeming it offensive, or to some extent, pornographic, as was the case in the University of Warwick’s Naked Calendar 2014 which was to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Needless to say, there’s a time and a place for anything like this, but perhaps not so if it conflicts with the nature of your professional career.

Nevertheless, the calendar is due to be published in time for the Christmas Market next month. At the time of writing, submissions are still welcome. That being said, if you would still like to get involved in fundraising but perhaps not so in the nude, buying the calendar is the other side of the same coin. As RAG envision, the aim is to see this happen every year in order to leave a type of “legacy”. After all, a naked calendar is naturally timeless if we’re truly getting to the bare bones of it, right?

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May 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on L.Hargreaves@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.