5 Lessons Skinny Dipping For The First Time Taught Me

5 Lessons Skinny Dipping For The First Time Taught Me

Bodies are so freaking beautiful.

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to go skinny dipping for the first time. Now, if you know me in person, or if you know me through my writing, you can probably guess that my relationship with my body is usually pretty good.

During the last couple of weeks, I have run into mirrors and genuinely smiled at myself because I thought I looked hot as hell, and I was surprised that the gorgeous girl in the mirror was me.

Of course, there were also moments where I looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow. My arms look huge,” or “Ugh. My love handles are so ugly,” or “I hate my hair.” In those moments, and this is a trick I learned from my mom, I look myself straight in the eye and firmly say, “Not today.”

That day was a goodish body day for me, but when an unnamed friend suggested we go skinny dipping at an unnamed location, I immediately reverted into my insecure self.

But skinny dipping was nothing like I thought it would be, and I learned some really important lessons about myself and the people around me.

1. Taking off your clothes is the hardest part.

I haven’t been fully naked in front of anyone except for close friends and family, and the thought of being naked in front of fifteen people at the same time terrified me. I also knew that I was one of the curviest girls going, and I felt like everyone would look at my body like I do on my bad days-- with disgust. And if I’m being honest, and I always am, I had recently taken a stand against shaving anything that I didn’t want to (because I believe you should only shave if it feels like a good personal choice for you), so anything above my knees was currently covered in hair. But I took a breath, told myself, “Not today," and dropped my clothes. And instead of feeling insecure, I felt exhilarated.

2. Nobody is going to judge you.

Despite what I thought, nobody looked at me and said, “Your body is gross.” In fact, many people actually made comments about how beautiful we all looked, and I think that helped calm our nerves.

3. Everyone is insecure.

Insecurity was in the air, and you could feel the nervous energy radiating off some of the girls. For many of us, it was the first time we were skinny dipping, and I saw many girls covering their insecurities with their hands or towels or the clothes that we had (and, in my friend’s case, she had taped over her nipples).

4. Being naked in front of people forces you to confront your own body image issues.

I think that there is an ideal body in the media that is considered beautiful, but I’ve never really thought that that body could be mine. I had never really seen curvy women on television comfortable with their sexuality or their body when I was younger, and I shamed myself into thinking that my body could never be deemed sexy because I wasn’t what the media had deemed as sexy. But standing on the dock with the group of girls lined up next to me, I looked around and realized that none of us fit that ideal body type. Every single girl had a different body. And every single one of us was sexy in our own way.

5. Bodies are so beautiful.

There was not one moment where I looked at someone’s body and thought, “I wish that was my body.” Instead, I thought, “Wow. She’s beautiful, and I hope she knows that.”
We live in a society where female nudity is often sexualized (and when it’s not sexualized, it’s discouraged). Despite what society has told us about women’s bodies, there is nothing ugly about them, and I think that we, as women, can stop the notion that women’s bodies are ugly by feeling powerful, confident, and comfortable in our bodies, and having honest conversations with other women about our bodies.

There’s a certain vulnerability that comes with being naked in front of people for the first time. It feels very similar to going up the hill before the very first drop of a roller coaster. And while you know that you’re safe because of safety regulations and test rides, you’re also afraid you’re going to die when you go over the drop because something, somewhere, somehow could go wrong. But skinny dipping has changed my perspective on my body and the bodies of women around me. Despite what I’ve been taught, my hairy, curvy, tall body is sexy and beautiful. And, if given the chance, I wouldn’t trade it in for any other type.

Cover Image Credit: utexas.edu

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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