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'Tastefully nude' calendar challenges aging stereotypes, empowers 'fierce and fabulous' women

With strategically placed limbs and flowers "tastefully" concealing some aspects of the women, the photos intentionally still reveal the testaments of time.

MINNEAPOLIS — Leave it to 83-year-old Jean Ketcham to celebrate the passage of time.

Wearing big earrings, bright red lipstick and a blue hat to match her shirt, Ketcham knows how to age both gracefully… and dangerously. In 2008, Ketcham co-founded Aging But Dangerous, a company dedicated to helping women age with information, events and laughter.

“It’s just that whole image of aging, we’ve got to change that whole image of that aging,” Ketcham said about the company that’s offered everything from Facebook conversations about age-related issues, to colonoscopy “parties” and skydive jumping.

But this year, Ketcham has taken that outreach one dramatic, naked step further with a “tastefully nude” calendar featuring some fierce and fabulous women — all over the age of 50.

“It’s so beautiful. It’s a work of art,” Ketcham recently told KARE 11’s Karla Hult, adding, “I’m so proud of it, and it touches my heart.”

Twelve women from different careers and different decades (their ages run from only one woman in her 50s all the way to Ketcham, herself, at 83) posed for the calendar photo shoot, craftily captured by Annie Marie Photography. With strategically placed arms, legs and flowers, the photos are all “tasteful.” But while the photos intentionally conceal some aspects, Ketcham insisted they also reveal the testaments to time.

“I said no Photoshopping; absolutely no Photoshopping, and there isn’t any,” she said, noting that the models’ did benefit from the “incredible” lighting of the photographer.

And to further underscore their mission, the calendar also features words of wisdom about aging from each of the mature models.

A guiding light… to young and old

Already, Ketcham is shipping the calendars to customers all over the world. And already, she’s marveling at the calendar’s reception, from both young and old.

She hadn’t considered the impact the photos would have on even teenagers until her 15-year-old granddaughter and her friends approached her at a family party.

“They said, 'You know, we are so happy that you’re doing this calendar, because for older women to get out there and show their bodies and show their wrinkles and all the little fat or whatever and not be self-conscious, then we — at our age — should not be self-conscious about our bodies,'” Ketcham recalled.

But as a cancer survivor herself, Ketcham knows it’s also critical to represent all aspects of aging. That’s why the calendar’s “cover girl” is 81-year-old Faye, who’s fighting stage 4 colon cancer.

“That morning, she was sick. She was throwing up,” Ketcham said about the day of the calendar’s photo shoot. “She came there, she was such a trooper, and she’s on the cover.”

Ketcham continued, “I told her there’s going to be women that will look at her and go, ‘I may not look like that, but she has cancer, I have cancer. She’s out there showing her body and showing who she is. If she can do it, then I can get out and do something.’ I mean, she is going to be such an example to women.”

And to further honor Faye, a portion of the proceeds from the calendar will go to The American Cancer Society.

Ultimately, Ketcham says the calendar captures the courage and attitude of all women. And that combination, she says, will inspire more women than any fashionable, Photoshopped image ever could.

“It’s not about their bodies. It’s not about being beautiful. It’s that attitude. They went in there and they took their clothes off and they had so much fun,” she said, later adding, “It just gives such a good message.”

To order the “Fierce & Fabulous” calendar, click here.

And to learn more about Aging But Dangerous, visit their website.

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