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 Barcus Slonina says while paying for a pizza outside her Skin City Body Painting studio. Of a man in his 20s walking around in briefs, she adds, “He has intense 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.
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.”