Body Paint – The New Old Art

The recent case of a model who straddled the streets of New York with no clothes on her (yet nobody noticed), is still unbelievable to many! Impossible, you say. How could it happen without any man noticing? If they ogle the cleavage and bums of fully-clothed women, how come they never noticed a naked woman walking through the streets of arguably the largest metropolis on earth?

It was not magic

For a start, and this goes to all doubters, this is a true occurrence. No abracadabra was involved. And please stop imagining that all the people in New York were blind that day. Yes, men, and women too, saw her. For the record, it was daytime and there was no cloud of mist. The sun was gracefully shining on the city. People did not take notice because she was, apparently, dressed in blue tight jeans.

Before I confound you further, welcome to the world of body painting. I know some of you are likely to dismiss this as the art of tattooing the body. For your information, the model we were talking about simply went home and washed away the paint on her body and there she was in her natural skin color. I am sure you are wondering why a grown up human being would take such a risk. Well, we will delve into that later.

Where did it all begin?

Where the hell did that kind of art come from? You ask. Humanity must be discovering new weird ways of entertainment, you say. Not so. Body painting may be new to the current generation but it was practiced in the past. Some people in the west may be hearing about it for the first time but for some tribes in the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, this is hardly a new phenomenon.

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When a German artist employed this technique to conceal a woman in an autumn background, not many viewers were able to detect the woman. She was completely camouflaged, something you would expect with animals such as chameleons. It appears that modern artists and impressionists are borrowing from the past to create art forms and images that the current generation of humans has never seen.

Body painting exists in different forms all in several parts of the world. Anciently, dyes were applied on the naked body or some parts of it as part decorations to mark special events. In Asia, henna was and is still used to decorate bodies, particularly for young brides. This practice is called Mehndi. You will find it especially in India and the Middle East.

In parts of South and Central America, indigenous people use plant juices to make paint that is used to decorate the body. Wet charcoal is also a popular medium for painting the body and the face. The interesting thing about the charcoal dye called huito is that it is semi-permanent and will take several weeks to wear off. But these people enjoy having the dye on the body so the long duration is hardly a bother.

20th Century experiments

The body paint movement in the western world is coming to the fore today but it actually began in the 1960s. Nudity was a controversial issue and exhibitionists and sensationalists were frowned upon when they tried to encourage public display of nudity. In essence, body painting was regarded as a form of nudity and society was not willing to accept it.

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A way of defying society and governments

Today, body painting is considered as a strategy for protesting against societal or political issues. Nude parades have also adopted the method, which appears to be more acceptable to the public eye than being nude in one’s natural skin. Well, at least people are beguiled by body paint to imagine the people protesting are not naked. Well, as long as we did not see them naked, there were not.

Celebrating body paint

For body painting enthusiasts, the climax of their revered art is when they gather at the World Body-Painting Festival which is held annually in Austria. Here, people take time to admire the artistic works on the bodies of other fans. In the US, the gathering is held in Orlando or Las Vegas. Australians are not left behind. Every year, the Australian Body Art Festival takes place in Queensland and the best displays are recognized.

Modern application (pun intended) of body paint

Body painting has a role in television advertisements. Several campaigns and commercials have been created using body painting. The film industry also utilizes this art and numerous movies have been created to celebrate this art. This is evidence enough of the increasingly important role of body painting in the entertainment industry.

We have also witnessed popular sports magazines using body-painted models to promote sports products. The bodies of these sportspersons are painted in the colors of sport attire on sale by different firms. Bikini models have also promoted respective products, with the bikinis actually painted on.

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Face painting is also a popular form of body painting, particularly among children. Attend any festival involving children and you will come across many who have painted faces. This paint is washed off with water when the children return home. No harm is occasioned to the skin or body. The military is also known to use body painting especially when soldiers are in the battlefield and want to camouflage.

Body painting making a comeback

It is obvious that body painting has both acceptable and controversial uses. You may only have heard about naked body-painted people but there are still noble and good uses of body painting. The trend is not about to go away. Like other fashionable practices that graced the past, body painting is making a comeback.

In a liberalized world, one must expect people to go to the extreme when expressing their freedom and emotions. So, next time you see body-painted naked persons (if ever you are able to identify them) do not stare and ogle. These people are busy making a living or they just want to enjoy the very fact that they are alive.

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