Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

A case for Sabrina Carpenter’s “Skinny Dipping”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

This past July, Sabrina Carpenter released her fifth studio album, emails i can’t send. The album is raw and honest, hence her inability to directly express these feelings to people in her life. Carpenter gently carries us with her through different forms of heartbreak, love, and hope. Her masterful storytelling leads the listener to imagine it all unfold. Whether you relate to it or not, it’s impossible not to feel Sabrina’s emotions alongside her.

Carpenter released the album’s first single, skinny dipping, on September 9th, 2021. The song begins with a spoken-word adjacent monologue that guides the listener through Carpenter’s uninhibited daydream about a former lover. She imagines herself running into him at a coffee shop long after their breakup; in seeing each other after an extended separation, they make peace. The way she retells the daydream feels almost childlike; it’s artfully un-poetic. It follows an unrealistic scenario in great detail, yet somehow, it’s relatable; it’s a fantasy we wouldn’t share aloud. The sound of her spoken word doesn’t flow quite right, which adds to the candid feeling of her words. As listeners, we’re taken back to her memories of being “those scared little kids that had those arguments in your garage” (Carpenter); it feels like we are right beside her, recalling the past. Alongside Sabrina, we yearn for the lightness of feeling so far from what we—as Carpenter—once were. 

“It’d be so nice, right? Right?

If we could take it all off and just exist

And skinny dip in water under the bridge”

—Sabrina Carpenter

The song follows a water motif, explaining the turbulence of the breakup as “swimming on the edge of a cliff,” as Carpenter is “resisting, but going down with the ship” (Carpenter). She yearns for the day she feels healed from the breakup and can move on peacefully. Carpenter hopes the two former lovers can, in their most vulnerable forms, let go of their heart-aching past. The accompanying music video portrays many water visuals throughout, including Carpenter sitting in a bathtub with waves recklessly pushing around a model sailboat, a fish tank, and an empty half-boat placed in the grass.

Carpenter’s skinny dipping music video only heightens the listener’s understanding of her story. It feels deeply nostalgic and wistful. She carries us alongside her with the feathery lightness that she longs for in her lyrics. Her demeanor and the setting feel very comfortingly juvenile; Carpenter is seen gleefully daydreaming on a summer day. We watch her as she reflects and writes her emails i can’t send album. She is seen jotting down lyrics to multiple songs from the album on pieces of paper, then placing the paper into a box labeled “this too shall pass.” As the video progresses, we follow her through the daytime and into the nighttime, where she lets all her pain go.

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar

Rutgers '23