Tuesday, March 26, 2013

At the Intersection of Art and Tailoring

From the Department of I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up comes this interesting article from The Explainer on Slate.com: Is It Legal to Wear Nothing but Body Paint in Public?

This is not a trivial issue, as the idea of appearing in public wearing only body paint arises from time to time to challenge traditional laws governing public nudity and morals. You may recall this famous magazine cover featuring Demi Moore ...

Ms Moore is, of course, naked in this photo, clothed (as it were) only in body paint and strategically-positioned shadow. This picture is relatively artistic, and most courts (outside of the Bible Belt, anyhow) would probably agree that it has "artistic value" and not sentence Ms Moore to 500 hours of community service painting curbs yellow instead of painting her own ample curbs.

In contrast, consider this example of clever-if-not-quite-so-artistic body painting ...

Somehow, I don't think these ladies would meet with general public approval beyond the male 18-50 demographic, although I doubt they'd care very much.

The Slate.com article notes that state and local anti-nudity laws tend to be deliberately vague, allowing police to make judgment calls. It also points out that many states prosecute public nudity only if it's accompanied by lewd or lascivious behavior, which would probably result in an arrest whether or not the individual was wearing traditional clothing or body paint. Body paint would be far more likely to be considered acceptable in, say, New Orleans (especially during Mardi Gras) than in Boston (at pretty much any time). San Francisco is, of course, in a class by itself. Many laws use the word expose to define what parts of the body must be visible to constitute nudity, and those parts tend to include the genitals more frequently than the (male or female) breasts. As to whether or not body paint is considered a covering sufficient to prevent nudity (however it's defined) most places (other than Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan, which take a dim view of exposing more than a few square millimeters of epidermis) seem anecdotally to be willing to give the offending epidermal canvas a warning, if not a pass.

So ...

If you're thinking of going a step further than the infamous spray tan, you might want to check your local ordinances first. And you might want to think about Bilbo's First Principle of Public Exposure, based on the personal experience of European topless beaches: Most people who appear topless in public ... shouldn't.

Just a word to the wise.

Have a good day. More thoughts - appropriately clothed - coming.


P.S. - This comment by actress and scientist Hedy Lamarr may apply: "A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts, and inspires."



eViL pOp TaRt said...

In New Orleans, body paint for the upper part of the body is sufficient in the French Quarter but probably not along St. Charles Avenue or the CBD. Mardi Gras typically comes in February, so that is a moderating factor. The NOPD typically doesn't arrest women for breast exposure during that time.

You make a very interesting point about what is sufficient to be non-nude. And body paint may have a benefit too: a painted-on swimsuit is not as susceptible to a swimsuit malfunction, a problem with some types.

Vanity Fair does do infor covers with shock value, doesn't it?

Duckbutt said...

Some town in the Seattle area passed a law specifying that body paint and tattoos are insufficient to go around indecent exposure laws. This was in response to 'bikini baristas.'

Mike said...

Make a new law and people will immediately start working on a way around it.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I posted recently an excellent example of body painting, in my opinion:


Mike said...

More paint - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2013_swimsuit/painting/