The Sydney Skinny made a cheeky but popular return to the harbour last Sunday.Last weekend I bared my soul to about 800 strangers. I actually bared more than my soul. I bared my bottom, my belly and my boobs. All in the name of positive body image.
Nanjing Night Net

On Sunday, February 23, I joined a mob of people, only two of whom I knew, at Cobblers Beach in Sydney Harbour for the second Sydney Skinny – the world’s biggest nude ocean swim.

The swim is the brainchild of the bloke who wrote the book about being fat, fried and over 40. Nigel Marsh decided there needed to be an event that not just threw aside all concerns of body image but also connected the community to its surroundings, while at the same time raising money to preserve the beautiful national park that surrounds our iconic Sydney Harbour.

He’s also one of the people that started the now global Earth Hour, so he has some idea of how to generate a groundswell movement.

I admit I wasn’t the most enthusiastic entrant when one of my oldest friends suggested we let down our (pubic) hair and throw off more than our inhibitions.

But like life-long friends do, she knew I needed to get out of my routine and reconnect with that part of me that used to take a few more risks after a hard couple of years.

All week I was trying to come up with excuses for why I couldn’t leave the comfort of my office, bed, backyard to drive to Sydney and run naked into the warm waters off Mosman.

But circumstance intervened and I found myself having to drive up the Princes Highway anyway and my dear best buddy used the opportunity to ensure that I didn’t turn around and drive back home.

I woke up early with butterflies in my stomach and realised it was too late to “tidy things” up a bit and I was going to have to go au natural in more ways than one.

However, by the time we’d registered, started talking to fellow nudies and walked down the bush track to the swim start, things didn’t seem as scary as I first thought.

There was a predominance of women but the men were out in force – one older man who must have been in his late 80s eager to get going with his younger son, a couple of best mates who’d decided on a night out drinking that they’d ditch their dacks, and a loved up pair who were obviously using the swim as a chance to get to know each other in a whole different light.

And when it was our turn to fling off our flimsies and wade into the water, my nerves were gone as fast as my gear.

Skinny dipping in the dead of night is nothing like naked ocean swimming at 10am on a Sunday. There was no sense of naughtiness, no feeling of being indiscrete or of overt exhibitionism.

Instead, it was extremely liberating to dive into the deep, sans swimmers. Freestyling, freestyle has its own sensation, but doing it with a bunch of strangers was an eye opening experience.

And when you bare all in a big group you realise that all those little things you worried about revealing are really inconsequential.

Bodies come in all shapes, sizes, colours and conditions, and en masse, they create a wonderful canvas on which to paint your own picture of humanity.

For the first time in a long time I can now embrace my body for its wonders and accomplishments – it’s had three children, still trains regularly and does all of what is demanded of it.

So what if there’s a few more bits than before – it does its job usually without too much complaining and that’s more than enough for me.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.