"I'm a size 22 and I'm swimming naked."

Pip Giles

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Photography: A Quaintrelle Life

This Sunday, I am doing an ocean swim in Sydney for charity.


NAKED. Oh, and I am a size 22. The Skinny Sydney Ocean Swim is being held at Cobblers Beach in Mosman, Sydney, to raise money for The National Trust of Wildlife and Parks's Middle Head walkway project.

I registered for the swim after doing a blog post about wearing my swimmers with pride and confidence. In response, a friend sent me a link to the swim, with the comment ‘the next logical step’. My initial reaction was an immediate NO! Are you kidding? No seriously, you’ve got to be joking! Being comfortable in my swimmers and enjoying summer is one thing, but being naked and swimming in front of hundreds of people is another. But the email did make me pause…

I started writing primarily to showcase my style and discuss clothes for bigger women. Clothes certainly don’t make the woman, but they do allow us to highlight who we are as people. I also did it to show society that bigger women can be beautiful, and stylish and we don't have to accept the shapeless and unflattering outfits most major Australian retailers offer.

But what are we left with once the clothes come off? A naked body. And for most people, being naked unleashes a wave of insecurity and an unrelenting force of self-doubt, and in some cases, self-hatred. Our society is obsessed with one version of beauty. But just like our personalities, the beauty of bodies is in the differences. And after a couple of test runs down at Cobblers Beach - which were intimidating, exciting and, when I first whipped off my dress, paralysing - it's very clear to me that with or without clothes, every single body is unique.

I know women of all shapes and sizes who aspire to have a figure which is simply unattainable. I will never be a size 6 and frankly I have no desire to be. I enjoy having hips and a derrière. However, for many, the mental angst caused by aiming for a non-existent form of perfection is dangerous. Our society is plagued with severe eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia and on the other side of the scale, obesity.

Despite all the labels we like to tag ourselves, we are all the same. We are all people. We all face the same issues with our bodies. Some variations, sure, but fundamentally the same. What’s disturbing is the number of people who refuse to live the way they want because of internal insecurities, many of which are related to how they look in an outfit (or out of it!). Life is short, and we only get one shot. This obsession with perfection needs to end because it is unachievable.

Pip after a dip! This weekend the pink cossies will be gone...Photo A Quaintrelle Life

This is why I decided to do the swim. Am I comfortable with it? Not really. I am, however, excited by it. I believe in pushing my boundaries, society’s boundaries, and if others see this and decide they are going to push their own too, no matter how small, that can only be a good thing.

I have really enjoyed the journey leading up to the Sydney Skinny. It has been confronting, equalizing and opened me to many possibilities that may not have been possible before. So, I plan on swimming the 900 metres with pride, in a relatively good time and enjoying the moment for what it is!

Pip Giles is style blogger and body acceptance advocate. Visit her blog A Quaintrelle Life.


Related: "Dear Asian women, it's ok to look the way you do."