Unfortunately, you’d be hard-pressed to find people in a large group, or in general, who are totally secure about their bodies. In fact, weight is the biggest insecurity for Americans, with the second biggest being teeth. In recent years, body positivity movements have been sweeping the world, an encouraging thing to be active about. That said, it’s still not among the most widely toted bastions of activism. Throw cancer in the mix and becomes even more difficult for people to reclaim their bodies, both mentally and physically. How do you combine body positivity and cancer awareness while gaining international recognition? Break a world record.
First, let’s take it back to 2015. In Perth, Australia, 786 participants joined up to establish a world record skinny dip as a celebration of body image positivity. This record stood until an Irish woman named Dee Featherstone took it upon herself to establish an event called Strip and Dip. In case you couldn’t tell, it’s a full-scale, group skinny dip.
Now, a bit about Dee: she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. She had six months of chemotherapy and a mastectomy, then decided enough was enough. She started Strip and Dip as a fundraiser for cancer research, awareness, and as a way to fight back against a disease so ruthless to the body.
“I contacted some friends and family and told them, ‘I only have one boob and I’m bald, so what’s your excuse?’ Sixty of us did the first one, and last year’s event grew to 200 women,” she said.
The popularity of the event grew over the past five years. Nearly two-thirds of marketers say Facebook is the most important social platform and that certainly proved true in the case of Strip and Dip. On June 9, 2018, a multitude of 2,505 women stripped down and splashed together for five minutes in the 54-degree Irish coastal waters to break, nay, decimate a world record.
The first five years of the event raised a total of approximately $180,000 and this year’s swim alone brought in $13,500. With a Guinness Record for the world’s largest skinny dip as the cherry on top. It’s been found that land-based sources are responsible for 80% of marine pollution every year, but these women were the purest in the water that day. A massive celebration of bodies, acceptance, and being okay together in the face of terrifying physical odds.
“For those who have cancer, they’re taking ownership of their bodies again,” Dee said before the event kicked off. “A lot of women said that the experience really changed their lives. One woman told me that her husband hadn’t seen her naked in years. After the skinny dip, she just walks around the house naked now.”
Participants agreed and gladly joined the naked, cold-water fray in support of one another. That is building a stronger community. Of course, after gaining international attention, the Australians have planned an event to take back their record this coming February. What’s a little friendly competition in the name of a good cause?