Swimming naked is pretty awesome. Feeling at one with the sun, the air and the water, the slightly illicit thrill of being nude, and no wet bathing suit to deal with—yup, skinny dipping is a cottage experience more people should have. But amazing as it is, there are a few cautions about swimming in the altogether you should keep in mind before stripping down and splashing gleefully into the surf.
Make sure you’re keeping it private
Please try not to traumatize the little kids across the lake. Yes, the human body is a beautiful thing, but give your neighbours the opportunity not to look at yours if they don’t want to. Keeping your naked forays limited to after-dark swims is a good idea if you don’t have a spot away from voyeurs, accidental and otherwise.
Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray
Oh, goodness, you haven’t had a sunburn until you’ve burned a spot that doesn’t usually see the light of day. Slather it on and reapply more often than you think you need to—some of that exposed skin is pretty tender. Same goes for bug spray—do you really want to be scratching in awkward places for a week?
Don’t be drunk
Yes, a little liquid courage isn’t a terrible thing, but if you’re actually drunk, it isn’t safe to swim—clothed or otherwise. If your buddies are smashed and start to talk about skinny dipping, see if you can talk them into strip poker instead. Water and booze don’t mix.
Check for leeches
Leeches are bad enough when you’re wearing a bathing suit, you really don’t want to deal with them when you’re starkers.
Be conscious of who’s on your guest list
We all have people we’d be perfectly happy to strip down with, and others where that would just be icky and awkward. Make sure everyone’s comfortable with each other before suggesting a swim in the nude.
Don’t participate if you don’t want to—but don’t just sit and watch
If stripping down makes you uncomfortable, cool—feel free to stick to underwear, a proper bathing suit, or just jump in with your clothes on. But don’t sit, fully clothed, on the beach and watch everyone else—that’s a little creepy.
Keep your eyes on people’s faces
Skinny dipping with buddies isn’t really an opportunity to ogle everyone shamelessly—interact as you usually would, and keep physical contact to a minimum if you think folks might be uncomfortable. Nudity loses its novelty pretty quickly, just revel in the great feeling of the sun and water on your skin.
Don’t be the only one skinny dipping
Ugh. Skinny dipping is pretty much a most-or-nothing proposal—don’t be the attention-seeking guest at the party who’s the only one naked, because you’ll pretty much guarantee you’ll never get invited back. Plus, if you’re the only one skinny-dipping, it’s fair game for your friends to steal your clothes. (Friends, if you’re going to steal clothes, leave the shoes so your buddy can at least walk without injury.)
Not if you all pinky-promise never to publish them, not if you swear a blood oath to lock them up and never look at them again—just no. Photos are not appropriate when people are naked. (We wish more politicians would learn this…)
Don’t make a big deal out of it
You’re allowed to be uncomfortable, you’re allowed not to participate, but if you do decide to strip down, don’t spend the next 20 minutes loudly obsessing about the cellulite on your thighs or your beer belly. Get over yourself and enjoy the experience. Remember, not even swimsuit models look like swimsuit models in real life, so relax and enjoy being naked.