Sports Illustrated Body Paint

Behind the Video

Body painting is not exactly a mainstream artistic medium. But, with high profile exposure in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, body painting has started to become a much more recognized art form. . .

Body painting has been present in cultures worldwide for centuries. Usually used in religious or other significant ceremonies, modern body painting has taken on a more sensual persona. This is certainly evident in the Sports Illustrated body painted models. Sports Illustrated somewhat controversially took body painting to a new level, when it presented some of the world’s most beautiful models in nothing but paint. Just in case you were wondering: it wasn’t controversial with us — we were just fine with it.

Over the years, one of the most appealing things about the Swimsuit Issue, is that it has became a socially acceptable medium in which beautiful women can be ogled without the judgmental stigma associated with more riskee “girly” magazines. Thought the visual content is arguably equally interesting and compelling, a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on your coffee table wouldn’t raise eyebrows like an issue of Playboy might. Of course there are still some who find the Swimsuit Issue a little too racy for their taste. As a result of this, Sports Illustrated does offer its subscribers the option to skip the Swimsuit issue each year for a one issue credit to their subscription. We’d be curious to know how many guys are so scared of their wives that they take that option . . .

A few years ago, Sports Illustrated began to push the limits even more, when they premiered the body paint section of the Swimsuit Issue. The body paint photos are exactly what the name implies. The models are adorned in nothing except strategically placed body paint. At first glance the pictures look similar to the photos from other Swimsuit Issues. However, this is an optical illusion — the models are actually wearing nothing but paint. This new element has sparked interest in the hearts of American men everywhere and we have to tip our hats to the editors at SI for coming up with a new way to push the envelope and generate attention for their publication. Some have opposed this new art medium, however, and Sports Illustrated has even reported cancellations of subscriptions as a result of the body paint issues.

Others view the body paint photos as legitimate, artistic expression. It is hard to argue that the body paint artists don’t have a great talent for creating the illusion of clothing on the models. Body paint artists such as Joanne Gair, take their work extremely seriously and are not attempting to shock, as much as they are attempting to create something beautiful for people to admire. Gair’s work on Sports Illustrated took her career as a makeup artist into a whole new direction because of the widespread acclaim that the images drew.

Whether shocking or mesmerizing the public, one thing is certain; the illusion of Sports Illustrated body painted models have pushed fashion and popular culture to new boundaries.