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Interview with Eve Tulloch, VP fundraising for Glasgow Marrow!

In our final interview of 2023, Britain Uncovered is speaking with Eve Tulloch, VP fundraising for Glasgow Marrow and one of the brains behind the charity's latest 'Bare Bums' calendar! During our discussion, we're exploring how the latest naked calendar came together, the impact the photoshoots have on participants, the ways these types of initiatives can help improve people's body confidence, Eve's own experiences taking part, her perspectives on body image and social nudity, and more!


Eve Tulloch and the Glasgow University Weightlifting Club posing for the 2024 'Bare Bums' naked calendar
The weightlifting team striking a pose for the 2024 'Bare Bums' calendar (Eve pictured second from right)

Britain Uncovered: Hi Eve! Thank you for joining us today. To start with, could you tell us a little bit about Glasgow Marrow – such as how it was formed and what some of the organisation’s goals and objectives are – along with details of what your own role involves?


Eve: Hello! Glasgow Marrow is a student-run branch of the Anthony Nolan charity, which runs the UK’s main stem cell register and recruits people aged 16-30 years old. People with leukaemia and many other blood cancers and disorders often rely on stem cell transplants for a second chance at life, so we try to sign up as many people to the register as we can so they can be matched with a donor! Registering is a lot easier than most people think – the whole process takes around 10 minutes and is done via a cheek swab. Once you are on the register, there is a 1 in 100 chance that you may match with someone and go on to donate. Donation is usually through a blood donation, or less commonly through hip bone marrow.

 

Fundraising is a big part of our society, as it costs £40 to add a person to the stem cell register. My role in the committee is Vice President for Fundraising. This involves organising smaller fundraising events such as bake sales and pub quizzes, and our larger events, such as the naked calendar and our drag bingo!

 

BU: This year marks the seventh edition of Glasgow Marrow’s ‘Bare Bums’ naked calendar – where many of your sports teams disrobe to raise money for an amazing cause! How did the idea for such a calendar come about to begin with all those years back, and are you pleased to see that it’s still going strong heading into 2024?

 

Eve: Yes! Glasgow Marrow was inspired many years ago by other Marrow groups at other universities who had made naked calendars and saw it as a great, light-hearted way to do some fundraising and get lots of uni students involved. Involving the sports teams works so well to get many students involved and raise awareness about marrow.


The famous slogan we all use is “Bare Bums Cure Blood Cancer”. We are delighted that it has been going strong for seven years!


The front cover of the 'Bare Bums' Naked Sports Calendar 2024, created by Glasgow Marrow
The official cover art for the 2024 Bare Bums calendar

BU: This year, the teams baring all for blood cancer include the weightlifting, fencing, lacrosse, swimming and water polo, athletics, women’s rugby, pole dancing, volleyball, squash, badminton, cycling and trampolining teams! In terms of finding volunteers to pose, how easy is it getting people involved from each of these respective groups for a project like this? Although Britain Uncovered likes to champion the benefits of clothes-free experiences wherever possible, we can imagine it might be tricky getting people involved in a project involving nudity?


Eve: Getting people to take part in the calendar is easier than you would expect. I think it helps that the naked calendar has been running for a while and people know about it, so it’s not a totally new idea to them. Doing it for a charitable cause also likely increased the motivation to join in. Some sports teams had more volunteers than others, but we were surprised with how many people were keen to take part. We actually had some teams messaging us and requesting to be in the calendar before we even asked them!

 

BU: Do sign-up levels or attitudes towards the shoots vary between the mens and womens teams, or is there always a healthy balance in this regard?

 

Eve: Overall, there weren’t any striking differences in the number of men and women taking part. Some sports had more men (such as fencing), while some had more women (weightlifting, for example). The bigger sports, such as cycling and athletics, had a good balance of both men and women, however.

 

BU: How do the calendar’s organisers and photographers come up with the inspiration and creativity for the images, and what mood or vibes are you seeking to conjure up with the images you capture? Are the calendar photos designed to be playful or joyful, for instance?

 

Eve: We ask all the sports teams to bring along their sports equipment and get creative with it! We had rugby balls, lacrosse sticks, sprint blocks, barbells, bikes, and many other pieces of equipment which were strategically placed. We also let them choose a month of the year which gives them extra opportunity to be creative – for example, with pumpkins or tinsel.  They definitely have a light-hearted, playful tone to them.


BU: Further to that, how do you come up with the poses, and what makes for a successful calendar photo in your opinion? Are the photoshoots collaborative processes that allow those involved to inject their own personalities into proceedings, or are the desired images generally planned out ahead of time?


Eve: We don’t tend to plan out the images beforehand, but we have a practice shoot with all the participants fully clothed and let them have a feel for what poses they want to do. Our photographer helped with positioning people so that the photos turn out looking professional. We look to get photos where everyone looks as if they are having fun. Using sports and seasonal props definitely allows them to add their personality into it.

 

We take promo shots after the main calendar shot which are used to advertise the calendar on social media etc. In these shots we give teams more free reign to choose their poses than the main calendar photo. These are often very fun, unserious photos. Many teams choose to do a ‘bare bums’ pose to match with the ‘Bare Bums Cure Blood Cancer’ slogan.


Eve Tulloch with the Glasgow University Weightlifting Club during a photoshoot for Glasgow Marrow's naked calendar
Another of the images of Eve and the weightlifting team that appears in the 2024 calendar

BU: Many of the participants are likely stepping outside of their comfort zones and trying modelling for the first time, which might naturally bring about a lot of pressure in the lead-up to the shoots – and being naked around others must be quite an unusual or daunting proposition too. How do you help the models to prepare for the shoots, and is there any advice you offer to get them in the best possible headspace?

 

Eve: It is very understandable that people may feel anxious for these shoots, being naked around people they know and don’t know. We take that into account as much as we can and try not to rush the process at all. Before the photos are taken we talk through the whole process to the participants. We go through the poses and take some practice shots whilst they are fully clothed, which helps break the ice and lets them feel more at ease. In terms of advice, it helps for participants to chat to their teammates and not take the whole situation too seriously.


BU: Is there are a set structure as to how the photoshoots are carried out? Is there a sense of joyfulness or comradery during these sessions, and would you consider them to be uplifting and positive affairs by and large?


Eve: We follow a rough structure of first talking through the process and ensuring we have everyone’s consent, taking posed photos whilst fully clothed. Then everyone gets undressed and we move onto the actual photos. We first take the main calendar photo, followed by the promo shots. We allow 45 minutes for each team. It depends on how many people are in the shoot and how complex the photo is, so people may be naked from somewhere between five to 25 minutes.


Most teams did seem generally comfortable around each other and were able to have a laugh. I think it likely helped that being in a sports team and training/competing together each week makes you very close to one another. As most sports teams will share changing rooms, this also helps makes the whole idea of undressing in front of each other more normal.

 

BU: Do the models enjoy and embrace the experience, and do you get a sense of people’s feelings about how it went – either on the day while the shoot is taking place, or when they see the resulting photos perhaps? What kind of feedback have you received from those taking part, and is participation often a liberating or even empowering experience?

 

Eve: Many people seemed to enjoy it and find the humour in being naked in front of all of their teammates. Lots of people appear nervous before, which is always totally expected as it’s usually a completely new experience to people. It is something that I know a lot of people spent some time thinking about before agreeing to take part. We have been told that it was a fun, uplifting experience and some people have said that it has brought their team closer together, since everyone was out of their comfort zone.

 

Everyone seemed to leave the shoots with a smile on their face!


Two members of the Glasgow University Weightlifting Club posing during a shoot for Glasgow Marrow's 2024 naked calendar
Participants say that the photoshoots have a positive impact on their body image and self-confidence levels

BU: Do you feel that participation in a photoshoot for a naked calendar such as Glasgow Marrow’s can be beneficial as it relates to improving people’s body confidence levels and helping people to feel more positively about their bodies? Even if that isn’t the primary aim of the project, is that a beneficial side effect that participants have commented on?


Eve: I definitely feel myself from organising the shoots and taking part in one of them that it had a positive effect on my body image! From being present in all the shoots, I could tell that some participants felt slightly self-conscious, but I thought that everyone looked good in their own way. I know that the majority of people may struggle with body image from time to time, so it was refreshing to have this realisation that although many people may be having negative thoughts, it often is only them who are thinking these things – they usually don’t even cross anyone else’s mind.


Having the calendar revolved around sports furthers this effect. This shifts the focus to what the body can do, and not what it looks like.


Some of the participants have told us that it had a positive effect on their body image, which is so lovely to hear.


BU: How do you go about selecting the final images used in the calendar, and do the models have any input on this side of things? We can imagine that it must be difficult choosing just a dozen images out of all the great shots you get back from the photographers!

 

Eve: We went through the photos and selected the best ones by photo quality, lighting, position etc. The models are sent the chosen photo and asked whether or not they were happy with the choice. If not, we sent some other options to allow them to have more input into the final photo. The photo selection did take a while, with over 1,000 photos to look through!


A headshot of Eve Tulloch, VP fundraising for Glasgow Marrow
Eve oversaw each of this year's photoshoots

BU: Have you personally taken part in any of the naked calendar photoshoots over the years Glasgow Marrow has been producing them? If so, how would you describe the experience, and did you find it rewarding or helpful in terms of improving your own body confidence levels? Did you find there to be any challenges with taking part in a shoot like this, or did you enjoy the experience from start to finish?

 

Eve: This year was my first year taking part in the naked calendar. I overall had a good experience with it. I was a bit apprehensive before but was surprised by how empowering it felt! Although it felt strange initially, after a couple of minutes I felt much more comfortable than expected being around everyone. It felt like a major step forward for my confidence levels to be able to do that – I actually felt quite proud after. My team was only girls and we all agreed that the energy was great and everyone was so positive – it was easier since we were all close beforehand.


BU: In your view, is nudity still seen as a ‘taboo’ of sorts by our culture and society, and if so, do you believe that naked calendars can help address the issue by normalising nudity and desexualising the human body?

 

Eve: I do believe that it is still seen as taboo, and this can definitely be seen by some of the reactions received when we mention that we produce a naked calendar every year! I think the calendar can have a role in normalising this. By being involved in organising the shoots, seeing everyone with no clothes became much less of a big deal towards the end. Even though everyone wanted to look good, it wasn’t about sex appeal; it was about confidence, having fun, tapping into our creative sides, and doing something good for charity.

 

BU: Sadly, there can occasionally be criticism of these types of calendars, with people sometimes commenting that naked calendars have outstayed their welcome and that they offer nothing more than ‘cheap publicity’. How would you respond to these types of views?

 

Eve: I think it depends on the motivation behind the calendar. We have done the calendar for so long and have found it is such an effective way to bring our charity into conversation and raise awareness.

 

The calendar is more on the silly side rather than sexy and provocative. Although the participants looked fantastic, it was never the main objective of the shoot. With so much money raised and sign-ups from people who have heard about us due to the naked calendar, we would say that naked calendars are here to stay!


Glasgow Marrow's 2024 naked calendars being sold at a market stall
The 2024 calendars will likely raise in excess of £1,200

BU: Do you feel social nudity experiences (whether it be for naked calendars or beyond) are largely positive? And can accepting ourselves and our bodies without clothing lead to a greater sense of body confidence and help us to feel more comfortable in our own skin?

 

Eve: I think it does have an important role in body acceptance and body neutrality. Social nudity has to be one of the most challenging things for someone to take part in body confidence-wise. If you can be fully naked in front of a group of people, what can’t you do?

 

Many people have said to me they couldn’t imagine being able to take part in the calendar, which is so understandable. It does take a lot of courage.

 

As time went on during the shoots, you could tell people become less bothered about being exposed – I think it’s something that takes a lot of getting used to. I’ve read about people attending nude art classes and claiming it massively helped their body image. I think this could work in a similar way to the naked calendar – becoming used to nudity will help you feel more comfortable in your skin.

 

BU: What are some of your favourite photographs or memories from these calendar shoots, whether it be in the 2024 calendar or in previous years gone by?

 

Eve: We are always impressed by the pole dancing club’s photo – they bring their poles down to the shoots which allows for some great photos. Their club has such a lovely air of positivity and confidence which is so nice to see.

 

The GUAC (athletics) club were definitely good fun to work with too! They were quite close as a team which definitely helped the whole situation. They had many different props with them which allowed them to get creative. [You can see the club's images by clicking here].


Eve Tulloch and the Glasgow University Weightlifting Club posing naked for the 2024 'Bare Bums' calendar
Seeing everyone without clothing became less of a big deal towards the end of the photoshoots, Eve tells us

BU: Has being involved in and around this ongoing project affected your own personal attitudes towards bodies or the body positivity movement at all? The media often presents a one-dimensional view of what ‘beauty’ looks like, so does seeing and celebrating bodies of all shapes and sizes have an influence on your own personal outlook too?

 

Eve: Yes – there was a range of body types and, as mentioned previously, I didn’t experience a single negative thought about anyone’s appearance. I know myself that I had worried about other people thinking negatively about what I looked like, but after realising this it was easy to tell myself that no one actually cares as much as I do. Seeing everyone feel so confident during the whole process was nice to see.

 

BU: As well as the models taking part, do you feel that the naked calendars you publish can also help viewers to feel empowered and more confident about their own bodies?

 

Eve: We hope so! There are a variety of body types displayed in the calendar between all the different sports teams, which is refreshing and hopefully has a positive impact. Our calendar was edited in order to make sure the images were suitable to publish, but there were never any changes made to people’s bodies. In a time where it is so easy and common for people, particularly celebrities, to edit their bodies before posting, we hope that it will be refreshing for viewers to see unedited natural bodies of people who are not posed to show their most flattering angle, but rather to show themselves having fun with their teammates and engaging in their sport. So many of our participants had such an air of confidence, which was admirable – and hopefully this can be transferred to our viewers.

 

BU: Finally, how much are you hoping to raise through the sales of this year’s calendars, and what’s the best way for our readers to purchase a calendar should they wish to support this excellent cause?

 

Eve: Last year we raised £1,200 from the calendar and we are aiming to beat that number this year! Sales are going great and we are getting close to being sold out. You can buy a calendar by clicking here.

 

If you would like to know more about us, our Instagram is @glasgowmarrow. Here, you can find a link to sign up to the stem cell register or donate (and you can also see several of the other photos from our latest calendar).

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