Love Your Body – Every Body Equal
We are all created equal, God put us on this earth to love and be in fellowship with each other. When we set aside things of race, color, stereotypes, etc., we become a beautiful and free spirit. Thank you for showing the world that we can become the change in the world we want to see. Life truly is beautiful when your heart and mind connects with perfect strangers.
– Joy Howarth, Every Body Equal Participant
“The camera adds 10 pounds and erases half your make up.” These words are enough to strike terror into the heart of any normal American girl, especially one preparing to subject herself to the lights, camera and action of Hollywood. For me it was frightful motivation to attempt to finally shed the extra pounds and little round belly my beautiful toddler gave me – it was diet by abject terror! To be fair, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself overweight. There are plenty of “healthy weight calculators” online. If I follow their formulas, I have always hovered comfortably around 10 pounds heavier than my “ideal” weight, with the booty to show for it! Just fine in “real life” – but this isn’t real life, it’s television! Do I really want to expose myself on the little screen to a public who seems to love judging women by their appearance?
It takes constant vigilance to listen to my own thoughts and guard against self-criticism when surrounded by such perfection.
As most women can attest, there is a lot of pressure in this culture to conform to socially accepted standards of beauty. Sometimes living in a normal body can be challenging, especially when I am constantly surrounded by models and athletes who literally make a living off of their physical perfection. As a bodypainter in Las Vegas, I work with stunning specimens of the human form on a daily basis, painting professional models for various jobs all over the city. My husband is a circus performer, which also means that every pool party I go to is crawling with gorgeous acrobats in bikinis. It takes constant vigilance to listen to my own thoughts and guard against self-criticism when surrounded by such perfection. My model friends work out and watch what they eat in order to keep working. They pay their rent, tuition and bills thanks to the beauty of their bodies. My performer friends eat right and put themselves through grueling workouts to keep their muscles at optimum strength and flexibility to do their jobs and prevent injuries. I am frankly just too busy to commit myself to the kind of workout regime that must require. Or to be fair, I’m not willing to make the time in my busy schedule for those workouts. There are lots of people out there, God bless them, who genuinely love working out. Aside from more everyday activities like a random yoga class, riding bikes with my kid or occasionally dancing my ass off, I am decidedly NOT one of those people.
In addition to all the hard work it takes these friends of mine to stay physically fit, some humans are simply more genetically blessed than others. I am constantly amazed by the flawless skin and perfect symmetry of some of the beautiful faces I paint. My face is not particularly photogenic for the most part, unless I really work it – posing at just the right angle with professional hairstyling and makeup lending a big helping hand. When I was a kid, my own father told me that he could always recognize me from a distance when picking me up from my late-night junior high theater rehearsals. He told me he would just search the silhouetted profiles, backlit at the school entrance, and look for the big nose. Thanks Dad! In addition to my schnoz, I also inherited my mother’s short legs and my grandmother’s thick “bingo” arms. It seems no matter what I do, it’s just the way I was built.
After quite a few adolescent bumps in the road, I discovered that aiming to be a good person helps me feel beautiful on the inside.
It’s not that my own perceived lack of genetic blessings has ever stopped me. I have always tackled the world with confidence in my talent and done my best to work with what I’ve got. After quite a few adolescent bumps in the road, I discovered that aiming to be a good person helps me feel beautiful on the inside. And aiming to love myself and greet everyone I meet with love helps me feel attractive and sexy on the outside. Whenever that critical voice creeps back into my head, I remind myself to focus on what my body can DO. Healthy, fully functioning limbs and five working senses is something to be grateful for and to celebrate. If, God forbid, something happened and my legs were no longer working, I would feel pretty foolish looking back at myself criticizing their little blue veins, shape or size. When viewed through a lens of gratitude, my short chubby legs are frickin awesome! They have trekked me all over the world, they have climbed up mountains and over fences, and they serve me well when it’s time to kick up my heels and boogie.
I was going to have to really commit to loving the skin I’m already in, and not beat myself up striving for a perfection that I just wasn’t born to embody.
In my trailer on the first day of Skin Wars season one, I was working with a wonderful wardrobe stylist to try to find flattering looks for me. He told me that some of the biggest stars he works with always are about 10 pounds underweight to compensate for the dreaded “added” camera pounds. That was the moment I knew I was doomed. I was attempting (and not really succeeding) to reach my ideal weight, there was no way in hell I would ever be able to maintain myself at 10 pounds underweight. I quickly realized I was going to have to fearlessly wave these bingo arms on camera like a white flag of camaraderie for normal women everywhere! I was going to have to really commit to loving the skin I’m already in, and not beat myself up striving for a perfection that I just wasn’t born to embody.
Luckily for me there is a growing movement in this country of beautiful women of ALL shapes and sizes embracing themselves just as nature made them. The National Organization of Women (NOW) has declared October 14 as “Love Your Body Day.” Many advertisers are embracing this trend wholeheartedly, as successful ad campaigns like Dove’s “Real Beauty” continue to show.
I love this movement and understand that more realistic and inclusive beauty standards are important for women to embrace. For the most part it’s true that females feel more pressure to equate culturally recognized standards of beauty with self-worth. But that paradigm is shifting and I believe men also need to be embraced by this movement. I remember in the 1980’s when the first Calvin Klein ads featuring men dressed only in underwear were splashed across every bus, billboard and magazine in sight. At the time, this was something really new. Marky Mark can consider himself honored to be one of the first mass-marketed, objectified men in recent popular culture! Of course there are other precedents before that, like Playgirl Magazine, Chippendales et al, but this is the first time I remember washboard abs being mass-marketed to young men as something that must be striven for. What this trend of equal opportunity objectification shows is that it does no body any good. A growing percentage of young men are now also suffering from diseases like bulimia.
Marky Mark can consider himself honored to be one of the first mass-marketed, objectified men in recent popular culture!
When thinking about the idea of loving the skin that we’re in, I wanted to speak up and create something that would include everyone: male, female, transgendered, gay, straight or bisexual, little people, big people, in all colors of the rainbow. As a multidisciplinary artist, I use many different mediums to express different messages, but body painting is one of my favorite forms of expression. And what better way to truly “embody” this message then the human body itself? The international bodypaint community is a very inclusive and welcoming group, and amazing works of body art have been created on bodies of all colors, shapes and sizes. One of the major gurus of the movement is my fellow Skin Wars judge Craig Tracy. Backstage at Skin Wars, he shared an idea about a mass-bodypaint promotional project. The client it was pitched to didn’t use the idea, but the concept stuck with me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind’s eye. I loved the idea of using a group of bodies of all shapes and sizes to express the idea of radical body acceptance and equality of all kind. From this concept, the Every Body Equal project was born. We put out a call on Skin City’s Facebook page and people of all shapes and sizes came out to brave the heat of a Las Vegas morning, overcoming various levels of self-consciousness to join in. It was wonderful to witness various people that came together to support it: acrobat friends who created choreography for the intro, a breast-feeding mother and her baby, a retired stripper who wanted to experience non-sexualized nudity, my own husband and five-year-old son, a man who traveled hours to participate and overcame body issues in the process, and even me! Yes, I put my money where my mouth was and stripped down for this project. The white paint represents that we are all equal “blank canvases”. The rainbow colors celebrate gender, racial and marriage equality. I was happily surprised by how much its message resonated within me after participating. I knew in theory why I was doing this, but it really hit me in practice that its message was actually working and being integrated by myself and others. For weeks afterward I felt an afterglow of heightened self-acceptance. It was a blissful day of strangers coming together to celebrate radical body acceptance and equality. I hope you enjoy the result!
Almost Naked: Skin City Strips to Celebrate Equality and Diversity
by Kristen Peterson
Not long after arriving for a video shoot in the parking lot behind Downtown Spaces, Holly White had stripped to her panties and pasties and joined a choreographed routine with other half-naked strangers. Regardless of cellulite, weight, age or social stature, they’d removed their clothing hours before it was even necessary, despite whatever body issues they walked in with.
“I’m watching the layers strip off, physically and metaphorically,” Robin Slonina says while paying for pizzas outside her Skin City Body Painting studio. Of a man in his 20s walking around in briefs, she adds, “He told me he has body issues. Now he’s walking around in pasties and underwear!”
The scenario is what Slonina had hoped when planning the Every Body Equal mass body-painting event, for which she invited the public via Skin City’s Facebook page. The point: to participate in a video designed to celebrate equality, diversity and body acceptance. She says it originated with artist Craig Tracy on the set for the reality show Skin Wars, where they both serve as judges. Tracy came up with the idea for a mass body-paint where people would roll over to reveal a logo. Slonina wanted to apply it to a social message that would cover race, age, gender, size and sexual orientation, so she recruited participants to help form a giant equals sign, painting the symbol on top of the participants.
During rehearsal, trains passed, garbage trucks came and went, wind blew and a camera crew stood at the ready. Pretty soon bodies of all shapes and sizes would be covered in paint for the video, set to be released in June.
“This is about radical self-acceptance,” Slonina says. “All of our bodies are just blank canvases today.”
Scenes from Skin City’s ‘Every Body Equal’
Friday, May 8 2:30pm
The idea was a simple yet brilliant one: To demonstrate that all bodies are equal regardless of the size, shape or the sexual disposition of the minds that run them, Skin City Body Painting proprietor Robin Barcus Slonina would gather together a number of old friends and new, paint them, and arrange them in a giant “equal” sign for a group photo. That’s how it read on paper, anyway. The reality, as seen here in photographs by SPYONVegas photographer Teddy Fujimoto, was a lot more messy… and much, much more fun than anyone could have expected.
ENDLESS THANKS TO:
Benoit Beaufils, Ross Gibson
Filmed and Edited by
Light Forge Studios
Robin Slonina, Todd Von Bastiaans, Saville Kellner, Voki Kalfayan
Benoit Beaufils, Caine Keenan, Flore Rulleau, Gregoire Pennes, Maite Mejean, Marine Debauve, Stefan Warren, Violaine Robert
Body Paint Participants
Amber Fulljames, Anisha White, Brandi Winter, Bryan Crump, Dimos Greko, Erika Lockett, Elizabeth Nelson, Frankie Lynn, Gabe McKinney, Ivy Salazar, Jennifer (Justice) Harney, Jimmy Slonina, Joy Howarth, Kathy Lui, Leo Slonina, Letty Lopez, Maria Gonzales, Niclucan Phillip, Robin Slonina, Silas Nelon Mckinney, Tara Scarff, Tori Bould
Ken Elsner, Roger Talley
Elizabeth Nelson, Fifine Brightman, Jolene Williams, Liz Gopwani
Jerry Thompson, Eric Cannon, Mike Thompson, M Simon Lim, Scott Thompson
Original Song Composed & Performed by
Available for Free Download
lead and spread love through the world
Special Thanks to
Kelly Hawthorne, Charlie Fox & Everyone at Downtown Spaces
Product Sponsorship by
Blick Art Supplies
Filmed at Skin City Body Painting
in Las Vegas