Naked + Liberated In Times Square To Promote Body Positivity (NSFW)

(NSFW – Strong nudity)

Last Friday, I participated in an art project that was both liberating + exhilarating!

If you happened to be in the Times Square area, you might have seen me naked, along with more than 100 men + women, getting our bodies painted, as part of the free ‘BODY NOTES’ project aimed to promote body positivity. Considered ‘a powerful, positive visual feast’ by Cosmopolitan magazine, participants + on-lookers alike really enjoyed this event of using the naked body as a canvas to highlight different body types in bright colors. Much to my surprise + bewilderment, I found myself amongst their article photos, sporting my ‘resting bitch face’, as my friends often tease me, in all my blue naked glory.

(photo: GETTY | COSMOPOLITAN)

Inspired by the ‘Subway Therapy‘ art project comprised of post-its, creators Andy Golub, producer of NYC Bodypainting Day + Matthew Chavez, street artist behind the subway project, thought it would be a great way for people to express themselves through their words and their bodies + that we did! But don’t you believe for a second, my decision to participate was an easy one to make.

Three weeks prior to the event, after seeing the ad featuring several photos of past models, bearing different sayings across their torsos, I immediately thought of what I would write across mine + the only quote that popped into my head was the Nina Simone quote, “I’ll tell you what Freedom means to me. No fear.” No other words could capture part of my journey or that of most people, better than those when it came to body positivity, however, my artist didn’t think they would all fit on my ‘body note’, so I compromised in shortening it to ‘FREEDOM = NO FEAR” as seen above. After receiving my email confirming my pre-registration, I asked them if a thong was going to be provided, as I’ve often seen body painters use them in their work? They replied, “No – It’s full nude but you’ll be in good company.” Now, I struggled with the idea of not doing it as I had a problem with being fully naked in Times Square, but kept thinking, “I need to step out of my comfort zone.” And as Andy told New York Daily News, “Everyone feels that being naked is such a big thing but in reality that’s just who we are,” adding, “When you experience this, it quickly becomes no big deal,” + indeed it wasn’t, as seen here in one of the newspaper’s photos.

(photo: Shannon Stapleton, Reuters|NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

For the next three weeks I started to work out harder just to look a little better naked for the ‘big reveal’, but let’s face it, not much was expected in such a short period of time. You see, for me, the way my body looked was a major issue for most of my life. As a Dominican-American Latina born + raised in New York City, one of the most fashionable cities in the world + a lover of fashion from such an early age, my body issues started to get distorted as I got older. Growing up, curves were celebrated in my family. I never saw a problem with how my body looked, no matter how big my hips, legs, cheeks or butt was. But as I grew older + got more into fashion, my ideas of beauty changed where I still wanted the curves but with the thinness of the models, I saw in magazines, advertisements + down the runway.

My weight fluctuated through the years, which can be gauged by the strategically placed stretch marks that have ravaged my body. But that didn’t come as a surprise – It’s what happens with sporadic weight gains + loss. So to make amends, I dedicated a poem to my stretch marks + started calling them ‘my friends’, as they became a part of me. And I tell you this when I was standing naked in Times Square, I didn’t care who was keeping count of how many I had or how dimpled my butt or thighs looked, especially in the color of choice. Wanting to channel Mystique from the X-Men, I chose blue for my body + yellow for my ‘body note’ square. The blue, however, turned out to be more Na’vi from Avatar but I still went for it + was quite happy with the outcome, so much so, I rode the subway back home, still all blue, dressed in my clothes + navy shades.

(photo: Anthony Delmundo|NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

That Friday, I was surrounded by orange, blue + yellow naked people, emboldened by their desire to show pride in who they were bearing ‘Body Notes’ of optimism like ‘ALL PEOPLE HAVE WORTH’, ‘INTROVERTS ARE AWESOME’ + ‘LOVE YOUR BODY THE WAY IT IS’, which sweetened the car exhaust filled air by the ensuing traffic of cars stopping intermittently to catch a glimpse of all our realness. You couldn’t help but smile + enjoy the process of being part of something so much needed in a society where we still all struggle with loving ourselves + as RuPaul says at the end of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna be able to love someone else?”

Had you had the chance to have your naked body painted, what would you have chosen as your ‘Body Note’ + why – color me curious?

One thought on “Naked + Liberated In Times Square To Promote Body Positivity (NSFW)

  1. Amanda Mentzer says:

    So empowering, Yvette! Congratulations and thank you 🙂 May this event be a catalyst in your life, and the lives of others who need motivation to LOVE themselves <3 #WEareONE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *