Pirelli’s 2017 calendar is refreshingly different this year

The famous fashion calendar is shunning sexy youth in favor of a more natural and soul-baring portrayal of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, including Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman and Lupita Nyong’o.

Nicole Kidman and Uma Thurman attends the 'Pirelli calendar 2017 by Peter Lindberg' launch, November 29, 2016 in Paris. Stephane Cardinale | Corbis | Getty Images

When it was announced that Pirelli’s 2017 calendar would be unveiled in Paris on Tuesday, I felt uplifted. The calendar, usually star-studded and sometimes provocative, went in a new direction this year, under the expert camera lens of German photographer Peter Lindbergh. “The Cal,” as it is often called, features Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, and other big name actresses, completely makeup-free. The stunning portraits (many of women well over age 40, including Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling) are a nice reminder that we don’t have to go on department store shopping sprees for chemical anti-aging serums to feel beautiful. The women don’t even look like they’re trying to be younger—they simply are.

MORE TO READ: When Alicia Keys says #nomakeup she really means it

Photographer Peter Lindbergh has a history of shooting supermodels, but he says he was going for something much deeper than the usual glamour he shoots, telling reporters that his aim was “to capture sensitivity and emotion, laying bare the souls of the women in the images, rendering them more naked than a nude.” In other words, he was searching to capture the #soulbeauty of his models through a camera lens.

Lindbergh told the women: ‘I want you to be yourself, to be real, and be free and be strong.'”

Well-known for the soulful quality of his photography, Lindbergh is well aware of the fact that there’s much more to beauty than just good hair or luminous skin; there’s a light that comes from within that can be just as gorgeous.

“As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to free women from the idea of eternal youth and perfection,” he said. “Society’s ideal of perfection is impossible to achieve.” He added: “I wanted to do something that was a cry against the terror of perfection and youth.”

“This marks the second year in a row that the calendar has defied its NSFW reputation,” according to CNN, “and the formula of nudity and youth that has come to define it.” And for that, we are thankful. Lindbergh’s approach is a quiet appreciation for women, rather than an objectification of them. Of course, the calendar hasn’t completely lost it’s provocative nature, with some of the models wearing low-cut clothing, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

Kate Winslet, who was also featured in “The Cal” this year, was also grateful for Lindbergh’s attitude on the shoot, where he told the women: “I want you to be yourself, to be real, and be free and be strong.” And when Julianne Moore said she felt vulnerable with no makeup on and wet hair he told her, “No, you look perfect.”

And that’s a sentiment worth repeating. Why does it matter if we have wrinkles: haven’t we earned them through living? Isn’t it enough to be kind? Resourceful? Loyal to our loved ones? Supportive and charitable to our communities? When it comes to determining “who’s hot” and “who’s not,” especially in Hollywood, it feels like those qualities get shoved to the side. So when major celebrities like Uma Thurman, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman start peeling away that glamorous veneer, there’s more room for a cultural shift concerning beauty expectations to happen. It’s that celebrity trickle-down effect.

With all that in mind, it’s worth applauding any effort (even the small ones) to celebrate the beauty that radiates from within rather than out. Beauty doesn’t require layers of make-up, expensive designer clothes, crazy fad diets, and rigorous workout routines. What it does require is confidence and the knowledge that you are just as worthy as any of these A-list stars. And truly gorgeous, just as you are.