Here’s the Skinny on Skinny Dipping

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By Phoebe Hodina

Picture this: You’ve been hiking a long, arduous trail. You’re tired, but the sun is shining and the view is gorgeous. You come across a crystal blue lake, sparkling in the summer sun. Perhaps you are with some adventure-seeking friends, and other than your companions, nobody is around. It’s the perfect opportunity, it’s your moment.

Do you bare all and take the plunge?

“Not my style, I’m good thanks!”
You admire the view, then continue on your path. The thought crosses your mind that you may have unknowingly missed out on an experience; but you are spared the risk of chaffing later down the trail.

“Heck yes!”
You (and possibly some friends) strip off your shirt, shorts, undies, and thick hiking socks. As you hop across the rocky beach to the water, the ground tries to pierce your feet. But the water is perfection, and the experience is near-spiritual. You have become more alive on the inside from the shock to your outside. It is the perfect way to help you remember the day.

But, as you are leaving the water… you hear a man-made noise. Instant fear leeches through your body. You feel exposed… you are exposed.

Was it worth it?

Probably. In all likelihood, you are able to dash for your clothes, or back into the water. The danger passes, and things come out just fine in the end. It’s a good story to share… in ten years.

Skinny Dipping: what’s the real story on the nude dip?

Swimming in the nude obviously dates back to the dawn of humanity, but it was a staple of health during the Georgian period, and continued throughout the Victorian period. Even American President Theodore Roosevelt commented in his autobiography about stripped swims with his “tennis cabinet” when he said “If we swam the Potomac, we usually took off our clothes.”

The admiration of skinny dipping is prolific in the art world, especially with painters before the 1800’s. Georg Pauli and Anders Zorn are two Swedish artists to note specifically for their work on nude swimmers. Although, it should be noted these pieces were not free from controversy. The 1911 work of French artist Paul Émile Chabas’ Matinée de Septembre caused quite a dispute in its time.

Skinny dipping is well documented with Guinness World Records as well. At the time of this article, the current world record for the largest skinny dip consisted of 786 participants at South Beach in Perth, Australia in March 2015. That’s a lot of naked bodies in water.

Is the exposure worth the risk?

Overall, current public opinion on the practice throughout the world is mixed, and statistics are limited. In one completely scientific and accurate poll, 25% of American adults said that they have gone skinny-dipping with mixed company at least once in their life. Depending on your perspective, you may find this high or low.

If you plan on taking the plunge: make sure to check local laws, and asses the risks of the situation before baring your derrière. In some areas of the U.S., exposing yourself in public can land you on the sex offender list for life. Bathing nude is also not recommended in places like Egypt, and more conservative areas of the Middle East. However, in places like Spain, France, and New Zealand, you may not receive a second glance. Only you can make that decision.

Skinny Dipping Tips:

Above all, common sense and judgement is important. Skinny dipping is most appropriate at night, or in highly secluded areas. Unless you’re on a nude beach, it probably is not a good idea to bare all in heavily populated public places with possible onlookers, and especially at religious sites. Avoid skinny dipping with minors.

Whatever your personal convictions are, make sure to stick to them. If your group is partaking and you feel uncomfortable, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely decline. Just make sure not to stand around awkwardly gawking…

What are your thoughts on skinny dipping? Do you have any stories? Share if you Dare!

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Multiple Contributor

Phoebe Hodina is a marketing consultant from Evansville, Indiana, USA and is an avid hiker, biker, swimmer, runner, yogi and snowshoe aficionado, you could say that she has a passion for outdoor activities.

In her words: “I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world, and have biked major parts of North America. I will never say no to new adventures, and I’m happy to encourage other women to get out and try new things in the outdoors”.

4 thoughts on “Here’s the Skinny on Skinny Dipping

  • February 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    It’s been years since I indulged in naked swimming, but my husband does it every chance he gets. I need to be more brave, because, really – there’s nothing like it!

  • February 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I have skinny dipped but it was night time so a bit safer!

  • February 19, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Stripping down and running naked into the water is an act of elemental freedom and celebration. Growing up Australia, skinny dipping was somewhat normalized; however, this was not my experience when I first moved to America. National nude hiking day usually catches people off guard; however. I have seen many a PCT’er honor the day.

  • February 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Loved this post! Haha! I went skinny dipping for the first time a couple years ago in the most gorgeous natural hot spring overlooking the stars and the sierra nevada mountains! It was amazing! But also nerve-wracking since it was open 24 hours and anybody could just pop up outta nowhere at any time.


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