What is Body Painting?
First of all, body paint is art.
It is sensual creativity expressed on a naked body: the focus is on the art, the paint, not the naked body beneath it.
In fact, the goal of body painting is either:
- not to be aware that what you are seeing is painted on (a corset, shorts, etc.) OR
- to be very aware that what you are seeing is painted on (a blue alien, a mermaid, etc.).
Either way, the focus is not on nudity, but on the incredible illusive power of paint.
At events and shows, models typically wear nipple pasties, which must be applied when the nipple is hard, or they might fall off at an inopportune moment. To provide an additional layer of coverage, flat colour is not used on the nipple area: instead, layered colours and patterns are applied, so the nipple is entirely invisible. The pubic area is also typically covered with underwear, although the amount of underwear coverage on the butt varies from model to model.
- bachelorette parties
- boudoir photography
- model portfolios
- maternity photos
- special events (like Sexapalooza)
They have even painted models with company logos, and special black light paint that can up the ante of a regular club night.
The sky is the limit to what can be painted. Everything from abstract geometric shapes, to realistic booty shorts and corsets, to creatures from the world of fantasy.
What Does Body Painting Have to do With Body Image?
Although models are mostly nude, the paint offers a shield. One model explains:
“As soon as the paint goes on, you stop feeling so self-conscious about standing there naked. Even though people stare at you, which normally would probably make you really uncomfortable or self-conscious… you know they are looking at the paint, not at you. They don’t really care what your body looks like underneath the paint, they are just super impressed that they thought that really beautiful corset you’re wearing was real. It kind of makes you realize that all those flaws on your body you thought were really noticeable, aren’t really that noticeable.”
The artists use shadows and colour to emphasize parts of the body that their clients love, and to diminish parts that they don’t. Brilliant colours make different sized breasts look symmetrical, shadows and contouring give the illusion of curve where there is bone, and patterns hide scars from a difficult cancer treatment.
It is empowering.
The owner of A Little Bit of Bling herself got painted after having her third child. Her body had been through the trials and tribulations of birthing three children, and she felt little love for her appearance. Yet somehow, after the paint went on, she felt transformed. The looks she drew were ‘of admiration for a living canvas, not disgust for an imperfect body’.
When painted, the body is on display, but not the focus. The body becomes the medium, the canvas, on which the art is created. It is beautiful, and it is hard to feel self conscious in the presence of such beauty.