My friend has friends who live nearby, and yesterday they invited us to hike to a lake after work was over in the evening. It was a short walk, and everyone seemed really friendly. It was very hot out, and when we got to the lake, I was surprised when three people took off their clothes to jump in the water. My friend did, too. I sat at the edge with another girl and just put my feet in the water. Part of me wanted to go swimming, but I didn’t really know what to do because I have not been skinny-dipping before. I wonder if people are disappointed in me or if they judged me for not going in. Nobody said anything, but I still felt self-conscious. Now they’re talking about going to the lake again and invited me to come again if I want to. Maybe I’m sheltered, but is it normal to just expect someone to get naked?
Like the article indicates, it ain’t complicated.
Nobody is judging her. She is judging herself. She has neither experience nor prior thought on the issue, so her judgements are skewed. That is how it is with social situations. We make ourselves the center of attention in our own minds. Then we project our own insecurities onto others and assess judgements on ourself, ascribing them to the other people. The truth is, other then a brief, “Why isn’t she in the water?” it is unlikely she occupied anyone’s mind.
Certainly if she jumped in fully clothed, that would grab people’s attention, at least initially. But going in with a suit or a t-shirt and panties would attract no special attention. Clothing – or the lack thereof – in the wild is a personal decision. Freedom to be you and me. Different from each other and yet accepting of each other’s fashion preferences.
As an 18-year-old, the woman asking the question is still new to the wider world. Neither she nor the girl sitting next to her nor her skinnydipping friends are abnormal or wrong. They have different life experiences, learned different life lessons. (It sounds like they are older.) In ten years a lot of things will feel different. Novelty won’t be as frightening and self-confidence will increase greatly. In 30 years things will feel even more different. Experience and thought change everything.
If those people are important to her and the nudity of other people makes her uncomfortable, she should let them know. (Didn’t sound like that was the case.) Real friends will make some accommodation for real friends (they should not need to rearrange their lives) and save full nakedness for when you aren’t around.
By the same token, nobody should ever try to convince you take your clothes off nor should you feel any external pressure to do so. That isn’t neutral acceptance, that’s evangelism. Time to walk away.
Skinnydippers are not going to make the same moral judgments about a bathing suit or a t-shirt and shorts that textile impaired people might make about a nudie. An uncomfortable nude is not something anyone wants. A comfortable clothed person will fit right in.