CALENDAR girls in Warwickshire are hitting back against the bullies.
Photographer Harvey James and his band of brave ladies have created a ‘Calendar Girls’ inspired calendar to raise awareness for anti-bullying campaigns – including those run by Childline.
After being diagnosed with bipolar last year the 43 year-old from Warwick decided it was the right time to face demons from his past and take a stand against bullies.
He sought the help of friends to gather 12 ladies from Warwickshire who have experienced bullying – either as a victim or by helping a friend who was bullied – and were willing to take a stand with a difference in the fight against bullying.
The women have posed tastefully nude for the calendar, and each tells her story alongside their photo.
Original Calendar Girl Tricia Stewart – who was played by Dame Helen Mirren in the Calendar Girls movie – wrote the foreword to the calendar and attended the recent launch party.
Harvey told the Observer: “I was picked on for being slow at school but growing up in the 70s and 80s you were just regarded as lazy and stupid.
“Being diagnosed with bipolar got me thinking about how I felt when I was being bullied and why people are ‘different.’ But everyone is different and it’s the bullies that have the problem not the victim.
“I’m hoping that the calendar will raise awareness of bullying and what we would like to do after launching it is go to schools, tell our stories and make kids realise what effect bullying can have – it’s not nice or fun for the victim.”
The ladies all agreed getting their kit off was scary to begin with, but once they conquered their nerves, say they felt liberated and more confident.
Harvey added: “It came as a genuine shock as I photographed each of the women and heard their experiences. I found myself asking them if they really were bullied. There isn’t one model that hasn’t got bags of confidence or seems unhappy and that’s the great thing about this project – they got over it.”
Calendar model Rachel Clarke, from Leamington, feels there was something empowering about baring all.
She said: “After I told friends and family I was part of this ‘Calendar Girls’ style calendar, they all wanted to try it too!
“As a teenager I was very sporty at school and there was a stigma attached to it for some reason. I was branded as some very unkind things which were untrue but I see now it was jealousy on their part.”
And with social media a feature of modern life the women fear there is no escape from the sort of gossip which can fuel bullying.
Harvey is now appealing to businesses in Leamington and Warwick to join the anti-bullying fight by selling calendars which cost £10.
Calendars can be bought from The Plough in Whitnash, Stratwicks Off Licence on the Woodloes in Warwick.
Contact Harvey via email [email protected] or Twitter @anti_bully2016 for further details.