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Skinny dipping for a good cause
Honoring the historic origins of International Skinny Dip Day and raising money for women suffering from obstetric fistula
International Skinny Dip Day is an annual holiday in July that celebrates body positivity and encourages individuals to embrace their bodies by participating in a skinny-dipping experience. It provides a safe and discreet environment for people to shed their inhibitions and connect with their natural selves. The event aims to promote body acceptance, self-confidence, and the celebration of diversity.
International Skinny Dip Day is on July 8, 2023
In 1976, Lee Baxandall, founder of The Naturist Society, and Eugene Callen, founder of Beachfront USA, met in Callen’s adopted home of Los Angeles. Recognizing the importance of using public relations and media to change public perception of beach nudity, they developed the idea for a National Nude Weekend, which would take place annually in July. This initiative aimed to create a unified celebration of body positivity among interested groups.
Over the years, the concept expanded and evolved. In 1992, The Naturist Society extended the event to become a seven-day Nude Recreation Week. Later, in the 2000s, the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) began promoting skinny dipping on the Saturday of Nude Recreation Week. Then, in 2018, AANR officially designated the second Saturday of July as "International Skinny Dip Day," solidifying the day's significance and promoting it on a global scale.
Thomas Francine became inspired to get involved in the event sometime after his personal journey of overcoming body shame through skinny dipping.
“I used to be painfully shy,” Thomas told Planet Nude. “Skinny dipping was one difficult, but powerful step I took to break out of my own body shame and general self-consciousness, in 2009. It definitely didn't happen overnight... but sooner than later, my body shame and self-consciousness were completely eradicated. Something which I didn't even think was possible.”
Witnessing the transformative power of the experience, Thomas eventually saw an opportunity for International Skinny Dip Day to serve as a catalyst for others to embrace body positivity and self-acceptance.
“I noticed a similarity with Polar Plunge,” Thomas said, “a popular multi-million dollar charity-fundraising idea, in which people are challenged to jump into water—in winter. I thought, for Skinny Dip Day, could the challenge be to jump into water naked? Indeed, I checked into it and found just a few projects, all of which have been quite successful: The Sydney Skinny in Australia by Nigel; The Northeast Skinny in England by Jax; the Strip and Dip in Ireland by Deirdre; and the Great British Skinny Dip by British Naturism. But nothing in the US, not even on International Skinny Dip Day!”
Drawing inspiration from these charitable events, he aimed to create a unique challenge that merged the exhilaration of skinny dipping with the opportunity to raise funds for a worthy cause.
In 2019, Thomas launched SkinnyDipDay.org, promoting an annual event with the goal of raising donations to the Fistula Foundation, a charitable organization which provides life-transforming surgeries and comprehensive care to women suffering from obstetric fistula, a devastating childbirth injury. As Thomas is quick to point out, “[The Fistula Foundation] just so happens to have a theme that overlaps with naturism! They cure women who have some of the most horrifying body shame in the world.”
So far for 2023, participating skinny dips are planned in nearly a dozen locations around the globe. Thomas, along with nudist advocates, also organize a group skinny dip at New Jersey’s Gunnison Beach for the occasion. Nudist groups interested in hosting a skinny dip can participate through the website.
In its first three years, SkinnyDipDay.org has raised over $11,000 for the Fistula Foundation, helping cure at least 19 women of their birth trauma injuries.
“I believe this project can show the world how kind us naturists can be,” Thomas told Planet Nude, “and how much fun and low-pressure body positivity can be, while creating a positive influx of diversity into naturism, and raising money to literally cure women from horrifying body shame.”
By incorporating the rich history of the event, from its origins in the 1970s to its official designation as International Skinny Dip Day, Thomas Francine and SkinnyDipDay.org are continuing the work of body-acceptance pioneers and inspiring individuals worldwide to embrace the liberating experience of skinny dipping. The event's evolution and expansion reflect its growing popularity and impact, with the potential to create a lasting legacy of body acceptance and self-love.
Support the cause, plan or join a skinny dip
There are multiple ways to support the fundraising efforts of SkinnyDipDay.org.
The easiest and impactful way is to make a direct donation on GoFundMe. All donations go to support the Fistula Foundation.
If course, if you're seeking a more immersive approach to raise funds, consider hosting a skinny-dip! Not only do you actually get to skinny dip, but build community, raise money, and generate positive publicity for your club or group. Everyone does it a different way. Throw a bash, gather a few friends, or do it your own way. 🪐