Happy In My Skin
An all-female skinny dip raises awareness around body image and confidence.
Two Welsh (Cardiff)-based artists are out to change how women perceive their bodies – by featuring a mass skinny-dip on a calendar
They say they want women to answer the question: Am I happy in my skin?
And if the answer is “No”, they want to know why not, and what can be done to change that.
Hazel Anderson and Leah Crossly invited women to an all-female skinny dip - and now are creating a calendar using images from the event. They say that Happy In My Skin is a creative investigation in to what it takes to be happy in the body that women have. Over one weekend they invited women to take part in an all female skinny dip, one in Brighton and one in South Wales. 60 women took on the challenge.
Leah, a visual artist and photographer, says: “We want to show women of all shapes and sizes, fully expressed and celebrating being in their body. We imagined it was possible that if we got enough women together and we all stripped naked, both physically and metaphorically we might change something in the way that woman perceived herself.”
Hazel said: “Women aged from 18 to 69 stripped off and ran in to the sea. It was a beautiful sight. We didn’t really imagine what a transformative experience it would be for some people who took part.”
Hazel’s Mum Jean took part, after surviving breast cancer and getting the all clear earlier this year. She was doing it to support her daughter and was surprised at how much fun she actually had. Afterwards she said, “It was exhilarating and liberating to be so free!’
Ellen Groves took part and said: “As I walked down to the beach my legs were like jelly, I felt as though I was walking towards an actual nightmare. When I was safe under the cover of the waves, I turned to look at the women wading in behind me. It was the most beautiful and inspiring thing I have ever seen. Every inch of every body was beautiful. I had to accept that I was not the exception, that we were all beautiful. I have never felt as free as I did marching back out of that sea.
And Suzi Dorey added: “After the first bit of sheer terror, dropping the towel and heading into the water, something clicked in my mind. It felt exciting and exhilarating. I was charting new territory, and I felt the power of the group of amazing supportive ladies and I felt POWERFUL. Not vulnerable at all.”
The organizers say: “We can make a difference. We can change how we relate to our bodies and be a part in changing how someone else relates to theirs.
“There are unrealistic, unattainable ideals of female beauty in the media every day. Where are the healthy, fit, curvy, dimpled, wobbly pictures of normal, happy women? Why is that such a terrible thing to aspire to? We are alive and that is beautiful. Let’s start celebrating that.”
You can get a calendar as part of the kickstarted campaign. Hazel And Leah are planning a UK tour of all the images from the day. They will be doing the event again next year.
Hazel: 07985 545 577
Photography by Leah Crossley