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Fat Body Painting!
stitchin bitch
chrysarose wrote in fatshionista
I wanted to post this and share the (IMO *awesome*) FAT Body Painting that was featured on Mo'nique's FAT Chance show. I actually don't watch this show or know much about it at all, but I found out about this through my face and body painting forums.

Now I don't know if I'm posting this just to say- hey look how awesome this is, and isn't it great that fat women are baring their naked bodies in this way!(?) But maybe I am also posting to go- so, what do you think of this? (the good, the bad, and the dare I say, ugly?)

I dunno... the very small response it got from my face & body painting community was sort of meh, and "not my kind of thing but give it up to these bigger gals for their confidence to do it at least" comments, and also some mildly insulting language and attitudes in that kind of way where people wouldn't be mindful enough about size acceptance to realize their language could come off as offensive. And I think their weren't more responses because it probably makes people nervous, or comes off as too outrageous/controversial (because of the models' size, not the nudity), and people are generally so polite on these forums that they would never give an honest opinion if they thought if might stir something up, so most people are probably afraid to comment on it at all.

I don't know that I could even articulate my own opinion on this, but my very strong reaction is to be overjoyed and excited about fat people represented in body art! I strongly feel the need to speak up about this but I don't even know what to say... I don't know how to let people here know about size acceptance, or how to encourage size-positive attitudes instead of only referring to this as "obese nude body painting" (OMG!)... These people probably don't think there's anything wrong with saying that and would still be in the conventional mindset that "Fat" is a bad word to say and it would be more insulting to describe someone as fat than "obese". sigh... I just have a hard time finding the words when it comes to educating other people on fat acceptance or even calling it that without getting uncomfortable responses about my personal size defending me with "oh no, YOU'RE not fat!"... and trying to explain over and over again that fat is not a negative word... So usually I don't bother really going into it with people who don't already get it. So many people around us use fat-bashing language or have hateful attitudes about people of size without even realizing it- and it can be exhausting to bring it to their attention or correct them every time. So I don't know what I would even say to speak out on this and make people aware, in this case that it is a huge statement for fat women to be exposed to the general public with body painting in a positive light.

When I tried to find an article online about the body painting on Mo'nique's show, I mostly ran into sites where it was published in a negative way followed by the usual comments about how disgusting this was. (Seriously outraging comments like, I feel bad for the guy who had to paint them, and they should have been painted like a whale or a hippopotamus instead... and on and on!) And even on some "curvy" boards, people seemed to be only critical of this. When I first saw the picture my only reaction was how beautiful this body painting was- and yes, as a body painting artist myself I can see that maybe some of the designs are not the best choices and a few of the women are awkwardly placed in the photo or look uncomfortable. But it's so not about that to me. IMO, it seems counterproductive to criticize it instead of embracing how beautiful these women are and acknowledging how important it is that more sizes and shapes are being shown in body painting. But I don't know... I guess even other fat folks are entitled to their opposing opinions. So... I'm hesitant but curious to ask: What do YOU think of this?

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I think some of them are posed awkwardly and I don't quite know what is going on with all of the body painting but I LOVE the body painting done on Mo'Nique herself. Like, she's the one one other than the tiger that seems identifiable as being painted as something. I don't understand that choice but I LOVE that fat bodies were the canvases for this.

Yeah that seems to be the popular opinion that those two are the best ones. I don't think the other body painting is bad but it could have been better or at the very least more specific or clear in the designs... People seem to have a better reaction to face & body painting when it's not too abstract. It seems more challenging for people to appreciate art that can't be described.

i think i'd rather the models not have to cover their breasts with their arms. they all look awkwardly posed...since that's an awkward pose. what's so shameful about nipples, anyway?

Well... it's a sensitive issue. Nudity in general I mean. And in mainstream modeling especially I suppose. I know that most of the time with body painting we have to make sure our models are covered with at least pasties & thong/g-string even if only for legal purposes in public.

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I wouldn't go so far as to say the quality isn't very good.... It's certainly not the best body painting I've ever seen, but it's NOT the worst either. Mostly I think they are poorly chosen and poorly executed designs, though it isn't the highest level of skill and technique showcased. I think it is far from looking like cheap Halloween makeup though, to be fair. And to say "instead of beautiful airbrushed body paint" is kind of limiting to this art form. Most of the amazing body paint that I've seen is freehanded with brush and sponge or a combination of brush work and airbrush. It seems like a mainstream view is that only airbrushed body paint looks the best, maybe because of the flawless application, but I think that's not actually true in the wider industry.

And really now, if we're going to show some beautiful body paint... those examples aren't the best either. Check out these photos from the International conventions I go to:
Now THAT is talent!

Though I like the idea, I think it was just done poorly. Plus I don't get the lady in front of Mo'nique, the others have what seems like a mystical/goddess look. I hate the haven and hell one, that painting IMO is the worst. I echo the they are posed bad, they could have use pasties or something like it if they did not want to show painted nips.

Is that supposed to be heaven/hell? I thought it was a crusader in full body armor, for some reason...

(Which I think emphasizes the problem, really.)

i really like the tiger, the texture they created with the paint is great. the other body painting is work i wouldn't be excited about shown on a smaller person either. i like to think of body painting as being similar to tattoo art, i suppose - and these are not tattoos (or clothing or whatever) i would personally want to sport.

also, i notice that the photo seems to have been taken with awfully dark lighting. seems odd if the goal is to highlight the bodies and paint.

I think their weren't more responses because it probably makes people nervous, or comes off as too outrageous/controversial (because of the models' size, not the nudity)

I think this is an excellent point. When thin women pose with painted bodies, they're seen as just canvases -- it's not about the woman, it's about the woman's body as a carrier for the art. Because these are unconventional bodies (although a lot closer to average than a bikini model's, of course), it forces you to recognize the body as a body. I think that to some degree it is because of the nudity, but it's that these women look nuder than a thin woman in body paint.

I do agree that the art isn't impressing me, but the project is still appreciated. I wonder if the artist wasn't very good, or just phoned it in.

I think this is an excellent point. When thin women pose with painted bodies, they're seen as just canvases -- it's not about the woman, it's about the woman's body as a carrier for the art. Because these are unconventional bodies (although a lot closer to average than a bikini model's, of course), it forces you to recognize the body as a body. I think that to some degree it is because of the nudity, but it's that these women look nuder than a thin woman in body paint.

You have some really great points here. I'd also add that with unconventional bodies, you need to confront the humanity/personhood of the "canvas" more as well.

I'm also trying to figure out how to phrase this next bit well, so there may be some less than positive foibles.

When you see fat bodies naked, you also see the normal rolls, bulges etc. that bodies have And given how much "excess" flesh is demonized and presented as something to be controlled/removed, I think many people are anxious and unsure how to react when they see it out there. Like, should they let the person know that "OMG their fat is showing". And I think there are also weird reactions of "I can't say they look good because that is encouraging unhealthy behavior becuse fat=death."

I like Mo'Nique, the tiger woman, and the woman with the yellow head wrap. The others don't work for me as much. The woman in turquoise/green I think could have been interesting if they had her in a different post.

Who painted them? The painter sucks. The person who chose how to pose them sucks. And none of it makes fucking sense. If they were going to group them together like that, they should have at least done a theme.

Night sky lizard with random purple... Ball gown... Tiger... tye dye compost garbage bag hat... and blazer with cloud pants...??? WTF?

It pisses me off. The girls look like crap. Their facial expressions, the cheesy factor, their posture, it looks like all of them besides tiger girl is about to break out into tears.

They could have been so much better. I know theyre beautiful women, this is just a horrible mess.

This artist should consider painting plus sized girls:

WOW that is horribly extreme! I totally agree that the designs are not the best, and I think a theme of some kind would have been better. But does it look like crap? Does the artist really SUCK? Wow, I'd like to see you do better. Seriously... it is not the worst thing ever. As a body painter I can see on a few of the designs what they were trying to do, and the technique while not perfectly polished is also not just piss poor. I think the photography, lighting and especially the posing does not showcase the body painting or the bodies themselves very well at all. I would much prefer that if fat women are going to be shown in nude body painting that it be better executed than this, but it is NOT just awful. It shocks me that because people have seen some other amazingly perfect painting before makes them think that they can just tear anything else to shit. It may not be great in your opinion, but it is still art and I have to respect the artform and the artist.

I really like your thoughts mattababy. Women are so often seen as an object that this untraditional use of fat woman as a canvas really makes you look at the body and the woman. I like that.

I wonder if the women were given a choice of what they would be painted as? I would think this would make a difference on why they look comfortable or uncomfortable and if it 'fits' them? I would think one gets to choose, but if this was for a professional type sitting then maybe it was decided for them?

I like the way it makes me feel to really look at them. Its empowering!

that one in the back on the far right? she is revving my engine.

she is like a sexy pat benatar tigress!

the only one i think is any good is the tiger one. the rest are kind of meh

i don't have any opinion on the women or their size. i'd feel the same way if the women were a size 4. the painting is U-G-L-Y! mo'nique looks good, but all the other women, not so much. blah.

That's how I feel about it, too.

It does nothing for me; there's no uniformity to the paintings, they are oddly posed, the lighting and photography is awful, and none of them seen very taken with the idea themselves.

Given how you've responded to others, I doubt you'll respond well to this... but I think it's rather blah, going towards the not at all impressed side. But I also don't think that I have to respect it because it's art - I think that gives me every right to critique it and decide both that I don't like it and why I don't like it.

And the why I don't like it is very simple, and a combination of two things:
1) I can't see an awful lot of the body painting, due to the poses of the models and the lighting. I would rather see them photographed individually, or in better light that allows the full view of the composition to be seen. And I would say this regardless of size, or if it were a bunch of canvases poised at different angles (when that clearly wasn't the point - it gets weird when you substitute canvas for body as that speaks different things about angles and dimensions.)

2) Most of the painting appears to be a vague mess. Only one - the tigress - is truly recognizable and identifiable other than just "random paint" - and she's a cliche. Is it a vague mess? Who knows - I can't see it! But it doesn't appear to have any cohesive theme, or point, and most of what I can see is just smudged splotches. If I stare, I can get pieces of detail, maybe, but I honestly can't tell if it's actual detail, or shadow from the way the women's various body parts fold and fall.

And it could very well be because the women are fat that people don't know what to say - they don't want to appear to be fat-bashing, but they don't like what they're seeing. (And frankly, I doubt it helps much that when people voice dislike or displeasure with it, you come along to tell them just why they're wrong.) Is it great that the women felt confident doing this? Sure - it's great when anyone feels confident in their body and getting nude in front of a camera. But I don't see this as a strong bit of fat activism - the women's poses and postures strike me as attempting to minimize and hide the shapes of their bodies as much as possible, by covering and folding as much as they can.

Show me some large women standing, well lit, so I can see what they're painted, and then at least the discussion can move beyond the photographic and lighting quality.

Given how you've responded to others, I doubt you'll respond well to this...
Yeah, it's not my first reaction to respond well I guess, I just get defensive on behalf of the artform and the industry because sometimes people can be misinformed or have very judgmental views of body painting in general. I don't mean to jump down people's throats or "come along to tell them why they're wrong"... It's hard for me not to be reactive when people are using such harsh language and being so extreme in ONLY pointing out whats so horrible about it. I agree that it being art gives you the right to critique it. I certainly have my likes and dislikes too and my opinions of what is really good art and not so good art. But personally, because I am an artist in this particular field I try to be sensitive too. I don't like to tear people's work apart if it looks like there is an honest attempt at making something pleasing to the eye (even if I don't find it so). And I remember myself what it's like starting out, and how insecure so many artists can be, so I just don't see the point in being competitive or mean about someone else's work. But really I get what everyone's saying- I don't agree with how it's all being said, but yea I understand that the quality of this work is far from awesome.

And seriously, so much of what you said here was really valid and I respect it. I appreciate that you explained in detail specifically what about it you disliked, and that you weren't completely bashing the whole thing altogether.

As for this last part of your comment:

These are pictures from the body painting deck of cards that M.A.C. Cosmetics came out with for an AIDS fund benefit, and might be the only other really big women of size I've seen in body painting. (And I think they're really stunning, and much better painted and photographed!)

if they weren't trying to cover their boobs, I think it would look less awkward and therefore better

I have to agree with most everyone else - great idea. Beautiful women. Crappy lighting, horrible poses except for Mo'nique and cat lady, so-so body paint. Even Mo'nique and cat lady's aren't that great - they're just better posed than the others, and cat lady has some interesting color.

I have tons of respect for the art form. I just think the artist they chose was mediocre, and looking at the other examples on this page and in the links you provided (not to mention my own experiences with talented body painters) only reinforces that fact.

I really they wish they would have done this with a more talented artist, someone who could really make big bodies beautiful, and for pity's sake not use those horrible "ashamed of my boobs" body poses.

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