Strip off your clothes – body painting is more refreshing

Written by: Emma Sargeant
It’s hot, involves bare skin, looking decorated, body painting; yes, do it. The Fremont Solstice Parade, which occurred on Saturday famously, highlighted the popularity of the art of body painting. Each year the parade commences with a troupe of nude bicyclists, painted extravagantly by each other at an organized body painting party in Fremont or nearby Wallingford before the start of the annual fair. Breasts openly bouncing, bike seats experiencing the usually unseen body freely exposed, the event emphasizes the possibilities of using bodies as canvases and the liberation from the restriction of clothes, binding the body from being able to display natural beauty, concealed by woven products of sweatshops or overpriced designer textiles. Body painting has been a custom in human culture for centuries. Traditional body painting originated from using clay and other natural pigments to be worn during ceremonies. The habit is still held sacred amongst the indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand and parts of Africa. In the Middle East, henna is used as a semi-permanent dye in the practice of Mehndi to decorate brides. The revival of body painting in Western society boomed into popularity in the 1960’s to push the limits of conformities and to stand for liberalization in the form of nudity. In protests, animal activists supporting PETA use body painting to catch the attention of the public to demonstrate their opposition against Burberry. Body painting is also a tool of camouflage used in the army and has been used commercially on models to create images with strong impact. Joanne Gair is a renowned body paint artist whose work has appeared for ten consecutive years in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Magazine. She burst onto the scene with a cover of Demi Moore for the August 1992 Vanity Fair Demi’s Birthday Suit issue of Vanity Fair. Moore was intricately painted to look as if she were wearing a skintight suit. Gair used shading to create a realist image on Demi Moore’s body. Modern body paints are harmless, non-toxic and non-allergenic. Liquid latex is sometimes used as body paint and allows the body to perspire freely. However, latex is a pain to remove, literally. Hair is often removed too. Whatever the type of body paint (the same is true for cosmetics), if the skin shows any signs of allergies, immediately cease using it. Do not apply onto open wounds, nor should it be applied too close to the eyes. It is not advisable to use paints or products which have not been formulated for use on the body, as these can result in serious allergic reactions. Wearing body paint for a prolonged period may cause heat stroke by inhibiting perspiration. With the sun shining and the Fremont fair past, cool off at a barbeque with a body painting party. Bare all and use the body as your canvas to be whatever you want to be. Perhaps a golden delight, a more toned figure or a giraffe, whatever, it’s all about letting go.