No Longer Ashamed

Helen sent in this story of the transformational power of skinny dipping:

I grew up in a loving, yet stern and conservative Christian family. From a very young age, I was told that it was shameful to show your body in public, especially around members of the opposite sex. We weren’t like the Amish, but we always wore very conservative swimsuits: skirts to cover your bottom and arms partially covered. Even a regular one-piece tank suit was considered risqué. As I got older, I always made sure to dress in private and not wear any clothing that would show off my body as it developed. I would even change in a bathroom stall in the girls’ locker room. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one.

While in college, I fell in love with a theology student a couple of years older than me who was going into the ministry. We married shortly after I turned 21 and I became very good at being the dutiful church wife. No sexy lingerie, and sex was always with the lights out. We seemed to be happy and living what we felt was God’s plan for our lives.

After about ten years of marriage, after trying for several years, I finally got pregnant with our first child. Coming home from the OB/GYN, I was so excited to tell my husband we would finally be parents; I hadn’t mentioned anything to him at this point. However, my joy was shattered when he told me he didn’t want the child and was leaving me for another woman.

Over the next fifteen years, I made a life for myself and raised my son on my own (my ex-husband gave up his parental rights and moved on). It was very hard at times, but I came to realize that my life before hadn’t been very good at all and I had been miserable. As time went on, I developed a career and became more confident in myself than I had ever been.

I knew that God wasn’t to blame for my divorce and I never lost faith in Him. However, I did switch to a more open-minded church that helped me see God and many other things in life in a very different light. The sermons were more about love and self-belief than the shame and fire and brimstone I had been used to all my life. The lady friends I made at church sometimes wore sleeveless shirts to church and posted pictures on Facebook of themselves in bikinis from their family vacations on the beach. In our women’s group, we talked about how it was ok to show off the strong bodies God has given us (within reason) and that it was okay to feel sexy outside of the bedroom. This helped me become a much more confident woman and proud of the body I had developed through a healthy lifestyle.

About a year ago, I met a man named Dave through a dating website. Dave and I went on a few dates, but decided that we were better off as friends. While Dave wasn’t a churchgoer, I found him to be more Christ-like than many of the Christian men I knew over the years. Our friendship continued to grow as we got to know each other.

A month or so after meeting, Dave and I were talking about swimming and he casually mentioned how he had gone skinny dipping early that morning. I was surprised and asked him about it. He said he went skinny dipping on a regular basis, but usually alone. He enjoyed the freedom it brought him and how he felt closer to nature while swimming in the nude. I couldn’t relate to it at all since I still wore a conservative tank suit when I went swimming, although with no skirt or sleeves now.

Over the winter, the subject came up every now and then, usually from me being curious. Dave suggested that I should try it the next summer, but I could never picture myself doing that. When summer came, Dave and I got together a few times to go swimming. Although he had extended an open invitation to me to try skinny dipping, he never pressured me.

One day, we went kayaking for the day and around lunch time, we stopped on a small deserted island in the lake we were going across. After we at some food, we decided to go for a swim. As there was no one else around us, Dave asked if it were ok if he went skinny dipping. I hadn’t seen a man naked since my divorce years before and was kind of excited to see Dave undress; he kept himself in really good shape. We splashed around for a short time, and him swimming around naked looked like the most natural thing in the world. Dave felt no shame in being naked, but never said a word to me to try to do the same. Soon, we were back in our kayaks to continue our trip.

A few hours later, we stopped at the island again for a break during our return trip. It was late afternoon by this point, and the temperature was around 90. Of course, we decided to go for a swim again. Dave got naked again–asking me if it was ok before taking off his shorts–and jumped right in to cool off.

I took off my shorts and jumped in the water wearing my suit and loved the feeling of the cool water. However, this time I was a lot more curious and asked Dave what it felt like to not be wearing anything. He said he actually felt more comfortable naked than with a suit on. He said he felt more confident and freer.

My heart started to race as the next thoughts came into my mind. Could I bring myself to take off my suit and swim naked? I thought about it for a few minutes and started by taking the straps off my shoulders while they were underwater.

The water going over my bare shoulders and upper chest and back felt really good. I had never done that before outside of a bath or shower. After a few minutes, I started to lower my suit to expose my breasts. Having them float free in the water felt so liberating. At this point, Dave realized what I was doing and didn’t say anything but smiled.

After swimming around “topless” for a little while under the water, my heart raced as I contemplated the next step. Finally, as I felt myself turning beet red, I took off my suit completely. The water flowing around my whole body (including my lady parts) felt unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

I went back toward shore and made sure to keep my shoulders under water until I got close enough to throw my suit onto the beach. I then swam out a little bit to where Dave was swimming and shrieked with joy “Can you believe it? Can you believe that we’re skinny dipping?” Dave just laughed and congratulated me.

After a little while, I started to settle down and relax a little more. Eventually, I let my shoulders and breasts come above the water and even floated on my back to expose my gloriously naked body to God and the rest of the world for the first time.

We stayed in the water for about an hour or so and, as time went on, I got used to being naked and enjoyed it even more. I wondered why I had always been so ashamed to show my body in any way. That day, the water washed away not only the sweat and dirt from my body, but also the shame I had been carrying for most of my life.

I was sad when Dave said we needed to get back in the canoes so we could go home. As I paddled the last few miles back to the docks, I carried myself a little high and a lot prouder than I had before.

In the two months since, then, Dave and I have gone skinny dipping together a couple of times, once in a lake and once in a pool of a friend’s place I was watching for the weekend. I even convinced one of my girlfriends from church to skinny dip with me. (She had done so with her husband many times in the past.) I’ve gotten to the point where I am a little disappointed at places where a swimsuit is required to go in the water.

I am so thankful that my friend Dave was patient with me and introduced me to skinny dipping. It hasn’t been a sexual experience for us–we are still just friends–but it has awakened another aspect of spirituality for me. I know that God loves me no matter what I am wearing (or not wearing) and that it is totally okay to be your natural self without shame. I am proud of my body and while I won’t share it with the entire world, I know that I can show it off every now and then and still be a good person.

Thanks, Helen! That is so inspiring, how you had the wisdom to reevaluate beliefs for what I’m sure is a healthier outlook on life. And you’re courage in sharing the story!



  1. Good that your no longer ahsamed and you had a great time skinny dipping with your friend. Hopefully you are able to do it more and feel free and comfy anytime you decide to swim naked. I am a god loving person myself and i feel god is ok with people enjoying swimming in the nude. I remember 1st few times i gone i was shy and nervous at 1st and maybe someday i will share some of them. Of course now i am no longer shy.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.