Interview With Kiki & Help Her Go To Amsterdam Bodypainting Day!
UPDATE 8/3/15: Kiki did not achieve her initial Kickstarter goal, but created a new campaign for an amount that will pay for her airfare and maybe more. She’s only a few hundred dollars away from her goal…Donate now!
Our beautiful friend Lakisha Alston, also known as Kiki, was one of the models in the 2nd NYC Bodypainting Day that took place this month. Kiki has been getting body painted by Andy Golub (and other artists) for a couple of years now. She has put herself out there time and time again as an outspoken advocate for body acceptance.
As many of you know, Bodypainting Day is going overseas for the first time this year to the city of Amsterdam on August 15! It is Kiki’s dream to be a model at Amsterdam Bodypainting Day and she is trying to raise enough money to go via Kickstarter. There’s less than 3 days left on this campaign so please GO DONATE RIGHT NOW and help Kiki spread the love and acceptance in Amsterdam!!
The following is an interview with Kiki about her life experiences and how she wants to impact the world in a positive manner through body painting.
What was your first experience like getting body painted by Andy Golub? Were you nervous?
The first time I was painted by Andy was a big “wow” for me. I didn’t know what to expect. So my feelings were all over the board. I started off scared because I couldn’t believe I was about to do this. Here I was at Fashion Week, a plus size female model surrounded by the super skinny and beautiful people of the modeling world. I wasn’t sure how they would react to seeing me and my body on display. But as I stood there getting painted, watching the looks on people’s faces, saw that people were smiling and enjoying it, I begun to open up and enjoy myself. It was no longer about the money I was getting paid to be there, but the beauty of it all. The beauty that they saw in me and the artwork that Andy was doing.
How did you get into modeling to begin with? Did you start with getting body painted or you did other modeling before then?
I had been modeling for a little while before body painting, but I wasn’t happy. I would do the out-of-body thing when taking photos or walking down a runway. I couldn’t look at my photos and see what others saw unless I pretended I was looking at someone else. Then I could say, “Okay, that’s a nice photo.” See, because of everything I been through as a child until adulthood I had learned how to smile, laugh and joke while hurting inside. So taking a photo was nothing but seeing beauty in it was something else.
What have you observed in the way people react to you getting body painted in public, either by yourself and / or with others?
When it come to getting painted in public the reactions of people have been varied. You have the very positive people who embrace you and why you are doing what you do. Then you have the ones that want to shame you into putting on your clothes by calling you names or saying how gross you look. I noticed this tends to happen more when you are a certain shape or size. I have even noticed how certain photographers who are there to cover the event may pull aside only smaller models or ones shaped a certain way for photos. It’s like body painting can only be beautiful or art if you look a certain way but we will cheer you on because you there with the group, and we can always hide you in the back. At first I did feel a certain way but now I shrug my shoulders and say, ‘Oh well their loss, not mine.’
How did your family react to you doing this type of modeling?
With my family, I think they have mixed reviews. Many are proud of me but I think many are also like, ‘Okay we are not related until you put your clothes back on.’ Haha.
How have these public body painting sessions changed you?
Body painting has changed me in a major way in that I don’t view my body as a graveyard anymore. This is something I did because of the loss of my children, but now I can embrace me and know that my body has a story to tell and I can love it if I lose weight or not. I don’t have to feel bad for letting the world see my rolls, my hanging breast, my double-decker stomach and flat bottom. This is me and I am beautiful even if you are too blind to see it.
What do you mean about your saying your body is a graveyard? About the loss of children?
I viewed my body as a graveyard for many years due to the death of my babies, nine in total. For many years I dreamed of being a mom and wife so I became both. I looked with joy to being pregnant but whenever I did become pregnant, I would lose my baby. The doctors to this day don’t know why I lost them. So that and along with being in an abusive marriage, I couldn’t see anything in my body but death and pain.
Have the body painting experiences changed the way you act and the decisions you make in life in general? If so, how?
My experiences have changed the way I see things a lot in that I take positive risks and step out of my hurt and pain. I smile with true feelings behind them. I don’t have to fake it for anyone. I don’t let people shame me into backing down and hiding when it comes to anything I feel passionate about anymore.
How have your experiences been in the Bodypainting Day events?
Overall my personal experiences for the body painting events have been a blessing, even the bad ones. I have met some great people from artists to models to the public. I have been able to tell a child that it is okay to love yourself and be pride of who you are and how you look. Not many people can say they were able to be interviewed by newspapers, magazines, news show and radio stations about being a part of a positive change in the minds of many on what beauty is, but I can. I was a part of history with the 1st and 2nd annual Bodypainting Day in NYC. I have just been so blessed. I pray to be able to do this for many years to come. I’m ready to walk in the White House fully painted and ask the president and his wife to join me.
Why is it important to you to go to Amsterdam Bodypainting Day?
Going to Amsterdam is important to me for the same reasons it is to do body painting, period. It gives me a chance to show that neither I nor anyone else has to be ashamed or feel bad about how they look right now. Whether you will change in the future or not, right now you can be proud of you and the story your body tells. My body is a story of a woman that survived rape, abuse, attempted suicide, loss of children and death. It speaks of my struggle at times with depression and loneliness in a crowded room. It celebrates hope of a better and happier future. Being able to be a part of the body painting family gives me a chance to be free.
Looking back on the past and what you’ve gained from these experiences, what would be the one message you’d want to tell the world?
The one message I would want to tell the world is the message that artist Michelle Weis allowed me to be a part of this past NYC Bodypainting Day, and that message is that no matter what labels this world wants to put on you, you are not that label because I am me and you are you. So love you and all your flaws because those flaws can be blessings that make you stronger. That you are beautiful no matter your shape or size; just make sure you are healthy and happy because that comes in all shapes and sizes. When can find the beauty in you, you can find it in someone else.
See a short video interview with Kiki by Andy Golub: