Naked Bodies. Weird News?

I couldn’t resist the headline touting nude bodies as artistic canvas.

Let’s face it. Put “naked” or “nude” in a headline and we look. Suggest there are pictures? We definitely look!

In fact, this Huffington Post slide show on nude body painting does not disappoint. To utilize the human face or form as a blank canvas is a delightful proposition, and the creative convergence of parts and arts yields a fanciful (and non-offensive) result.

What I do find odd is that the body painting contest ranks as “weird news.” Or is my concept of entertaining or interesting someone else’s idea of weird?

I’ve never considered the word “weird” before, except with very, well… broad brush strokes. So why not frame this conversation in something less linguistically sketchy, opting for a more precise take?

Weird? Says Who?

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of weird is as follows:

involving or suggesting the supernatural; unearthly or uncanny: a weird sound, weird lights; fantastic, bizarre: a weird getup; (archaic) concerned with or controlling fate or destiny.

Three-headed snake? Yep. I’d say that qualifies.

Body painting? Um, not so much.

Incidentally, synonyms for weird include:

unnatural, preternatural, eerie, unearthly, uncanny… that which is mysterious and apparently outside natural law.

And the only antonym?

natural

Huh. What’s more natural than the naked body? Don’t we increasingly adorn ours with permanent tattoos? What about fashion models – posed and printed in full body paint as “art?”

Fabulous Flesh: Decorate!

Definitions of beauty are personal and variable. Comfort with our own naked bodies? Equally so, with more than a touch of cultural influence – and sadly, too often, shame.

In the meantime, as the article mentions, body decoration is certainly not new. And members of the American Association for Nude Recreation are celebrating that fact with this exuberant event.

Personally, I find the naked body to be the source and reflection of some of our finest life stories, not to mention stunning in its capacity for expressing beauty.

Some of us ignore the former and spend far too much time focused on a narrow definition of the latter.

I might also point out that if you link over to the slide show, you will be astounded at the diversity of results and the less than media-picture-perfect bodies.

In fact, it’s a relief to see many womanly bodies over something “weirder” – that is to say, unnatural. Yet in the slide show of contest winners featured at Huff Post, you will see an overwhelming number of nude women and almost no nude men!

Don’t you find that a little bit weird?



© D. A. Wolf

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Comments

  1. I’m not big on body painting personally, nor tattoos. Healthy body is generally enough. Fran once was an impromptu judge for Mr Nude Canada (although she now denies this in public, and I know enough to leave well enough alone). I think it may have been more like just asking her for an opinion about a casual preliminary, but being “a judge” makes for a better story. She also doesn’t like me to recite the story about the time she was “Miss Port Tobacco Players” in preliminaries for Miss Maryland. She hated it but was coerced into it by her theater group and pointedly refused to smile for the judges (although she did consent to wear the sash). So there was no need to worry about her going the next step.

  2. I might have to write about this too Wolfie, it’s been a while since I have written about the body paint as clothing thang that Heinlein wrote about in his science fiction piece, “Time Enough for Love.”

    Be well.

  3. We sure are hung about about nudity in art, aren’t we? (Pun unintended, btw.)

    I do find it “weird” – as you say – that more nude women are displayed than men. It seems that we should celebrate both forms, much like artists of yore.

    This reminds me of two blog posts I read recently:

    http://letterstogabriel.com/2012/10/20/blogging-in-the-buff-day-2-culture-of-beauty/

    http://jkirkrichards.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/why-are-you-painting-those-naked-ladies-or-what-makes-me-think-i-can-go-to-a-nude-drawing-session-on-saturday-and-then-go-to-church-on-sunday/

  4. I’ve seen references to replicas of Michelangelo’s David which came with optional fig leafs. God only knows we don’t want to scandalize the public and make children go blind. (Although I’ve heard rumours of a few women over the age of eighty who spontaneously regained the power of speech.) Maybe guys just don’t present as smooth a canvas as women do; all those protruding bits you know. Whatever the case, I for one will not complain about the continuing favoritism accorded the female form when it comes to living art. I’m reading -wb :-)

  5. Smile! Body paintings, I often find them ludicrous but certainly not weird. Painting on bodies exist for ages and some do it very artistically, if you look for example at the marvelous Peuls in Africa.

    Now about the other thing that you find weird, it’s not either, alas. I really find some of these body painting (on the link you gave) quite ugly. And since we come to notice that effectively it’s for women to strip once again, then I guess we go with this recurrent thing that for some men everything is a pretext to make women show their bodies. And for the unbalanced thingy, look at movies: When they said that they had freed nudity in movies, it was female nudity in fact. And it was quite a long time before movies allow that you could see a man’s penis. Now for erected ones, heaven forbid! :)

    Talking about bodies paintings that I find pretty and more agreeable to see, let me share this page of my blog : Only in Paris! :)

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      If I read correctly, François, in this instance it wasn’t about stripping – or women stripping. It was about nudists, and using the human form as canvas.

      My guess is there were plenty of nude men in the contest, but they weren’t the winning artworks generally speaking. Does that mean that the better artists prefer painting on a female form and therefore they had more winning entries? I don’t know. But that, too, is interesting to ponder. Both men and women (typically) find the female nude beautiful. The male nude – not always the case. My two cents. Thank you for the links!

  6. Hmmm. That American flag looks pretty tricky to me… If I had to chose one over the other, I’d say I prefer the paint to tattooes. At least it washes off.

  7. I always love a vocabulary lesson – and yep – the word “naked” got me over here:) Now, I must go back to being a nurse (and not a very good one).

  8. Laughing at the idea of David with optional fig leaf. :)

    A recent use of body as canvas you might enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVNT4wvIGY (Warning: I can never get this song out of my head once it’s in there.)

  9. A little bit weird? Sadly no, I find it business as usual – the abundance of female nudes – so out of balance with males on display in any setting. And if the male nude isn’t perceived as beautiful as the female in human form – then it’s one of the few instances in nature where that holds true. Now that’s nice.

  10. C’mon now, can we really expect Huff’s market to be comprised of art critics who appreciate the human form for art’s sake, irregardless of gender? More like, crack open another beer and check out Page 3 in the Sun on the way to Huff (maybe with a stop along the way to see how Octomom is doing)! Of course there are more naked women than men! And notice that they didn’t post much (any?) of the amateur artwork that comprised most of the contestants…

    As for an article that touches on nudity being considered weird, the titillation value alone of ‘nude’ or ‘naked’ sends chills of anticipation down the spines of adolescents of any age! Add ‘body’ as in ‘naked body painting’ and you’ve got a winner! What’s more ‘weird’ than to think that a nude body could be good for anything other than sex!

    As you might expect, nudists are quite used to the sophomoric reactions of the Textile community to any mention of bare skin, and find it all to be rather silly. We do understand it though, as most of us grew up with the same indoctrination that everyone else does, ie, skin=sex=sin!

    We nudists just the lucky ones who took time out to actually think about it and realized that a lot of things we were taught as children aren’t exactly true, tried naturism out for ourselves, discovered what it really is, and relegated those teachings to the same place we keep Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy!

    Ye gods, that sounds patronizing! Sorry about that, it’s just so hard to get across how much FUN it is to run around nekked! Like trying to describe colors to a blind man, it’s something that has to be experienced to be understood. And no, the guys don’t walk around with erections and yes, you do get used to naked ugly fat old people!

    Now that you know the important stuff about social nudism, why not check it out sometime? Maybe you, too could get yourself painted! Probably not, that doesn’t really happen much; this was a publicity promotion. But at least you could find out how great it feels to swim without a suit in the company of a bunch of good folks and their families, all out to have a good time without the tensions and strain that otherwise accompanies trying to relax among people trying ever to impress with the way they dress. You might be pleasantly surprised!

    We’re not crass publicity-seekers so we won’t even take advantage of this opportunity to suggest that our website (All-Nudist.com) is a good place to start when looking for good, honest, non-PORN information about NUDISM or NAKED FUN or NUDE WOMEN or NAKED BODY PAINTING and everything else to do with social NUDITY… ;-)

    Oh, great article, by the way!

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Glad you enjoyed the article, and happy to have you stop by and comment.

      I’ve always found it odd that we automatically associate nudity with sex (as you said), sex with prurience (even odder), but violence? No problem! A slight exaggeration, but not by much in my opinion.

      As for the art, where are the amateur efforts available for viewing? (As a former art reviewer… yep, really… I’d be curious to see! And nudes in art have a long and proud history.)

      Stop by again soon. Love having new readers!

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