ISLAMABAD - It’s hard to imagine one standing still, like a statue on the road side near the traffic signal for hours; under the burning sun while having face and body completely painted. And the whole process is repeated in loops for the whole day. This is not for the sake of fun or enjoyment but is a hard ticket to earn money. Passersby always appreciate it.

In Islamabad, since the past few months such scenes attract the attention of passersby despite the fact that this profession has a history in the West. A number of silver, golden and green men could now be spotted standing at various locations in the twin cities.

They pose to be super human beings but all of them have their own stories focusing their hard struggle for survival. Even some of them are the sole bread and butter earners for their families whereas others have their own ambitions to earn money to meet their needs.

The Nation reached out to a few golden, silver and green men standing in various areas to find out what kind of face-paints and sprays they are using for their make-over and their impacts on their skin.

Muhammad Shan is a popular ‘Golden Man’ in twin cities. A resident of Khanna pull area, Shan used to stand on the signal in sector F-6. To a question, Shan made a statement saying, “I use golden spray on my skin that lasts for a few hours and I remove it once I am at home. Initially, I got some allergy issues and my skin turned dull. It might be because of standing in an open air environment for hours having direct exposure to the sunlight and heat.”

“I have a two-year-old blind daughter,” Shan shared adding, “I do not have any other option for earning at the moment.” He said he was responsible for earning bread and butter for his family and had to take care of her blind daughter and rest of the family members by earning only Rs1,500 per day.  Another Golden Man, who used to stand near the F-7 informed that he tries to protect his skin from damages by applying various skin care products that are affordable for him.

To another query, he said, “I have to present myself in a specific character so that I may attract the attention of the public to force people to reach out to me for taking selfies. Most of them appreciate my work and leave little money with me. Through this, I earn money to take care of my family.”

‘Spray painted men’: a novelty or a nuisance?

Not only golden or silver but a green man depicting a famous character “Hulk” could be spotted in the capital and is gaining the attention of the general public. ‘Green Man’ Akbar Ali used to portray a soldier. When The Nation reached out to him, Akbar Ali said, “I used to apply powder on my face followed by face spray just to differentiate the colours. Sixty minutes after applying the face spray, my skin slightly burns. Then it becomes normal but spray fumes still irritate my eyes and cause redness,” said the Green Man.

Akbar maintained that earlier he was working in a vegetable market. In the evening, he started turning himself into a military trooper by applying colours of the national flag.  Now, people visit me and take selfies with me appreciating my work and give me some money, Akbar concluded.  Dermatologist Dr. Shumaila Khan while talking to The Nation said that a number of street performers and entertainers are being spotted these days. I perceive that they use metallic paint on their body, as the metallic paint gives strong finishing and strong metallic statue effect.

“As they are using it for hours and in routine especially under the burning sun which is very dangerous for them, it leaves very harmful impacts on their body and skin causing diseases,” Dr Shumaila informed.  Elaborating further, she added that this disease causes the skin to become itchy, blistered, dry and cracked. Lighter skin can become red, darker skin can become dark brown, purple or grey. This all is the reaction of the metallic content in the paint they use.