Nudity in the Locker Room

I thought the point of separate locker rooms (and steam rooms) was that you would feel comfortable strutting around nude.womenintowel

It’s shocking how many women seem to keep their privates private, even in the privacy of the ladies locker room.

I find myself apologetically wrapping myself in the towel when walking from my locker to the shower in the ladies locker room at the gym. I don’t do a very good job, either, I just kind of hold it on the front with my backside hanging out. I can’t be bothered.

Why do I have to go through this farce? I am supposed to be naked! It’s a locker room! I’m taking a shower!

Ok, but I feel I have to be polite to all the other ladies, who seem to be carefully covering the half of their body that isn’t dressed while dressing the other half. (Some do top first and some bottom first, which is admittedly more modest as you can slip the panties up into your towel without exposing even a wisp.).

That’s why they have separate steam rooms

Today the absurdity reached the point where I could no longer be silent.

As I was blissfully and buck-nakedly steaming myself in the ladies-only sauna, a woman came in wearing a thong.

A thong? It’s beyond my comprehension. What is the difference between the thong and naked? Are you afraid I’ll find out that’s not your natural hair color? Why do you want something uncomfortable in your crack as you take a relaxing sauna? Am I missing something? Is it just the hair we need to cover and then it’s OK? I don’t know, but I didn’t make any attempt to cover my hair with my towel. Of course, I didn’t need to because my paunch and cellulite were doing a fine job already.

As if that wasn’t bad enough…

No sooner had I gotten over my initial shock at thong-lady, when fully-dressed lady came into the steam room. She was wearing almost knee-length training tights and a tank top. Hey, lady! Most of the girls wear less fabric that to the aerobics class! And you’re wearing it in the sauna? What is up with THAT?

You’d wear less on the beach

Seriously, these same women probably wear bikinis to the beach, but in the privacy of the women’s locker room, on the 5-meter walk from shower to the locker, they must cover themselves and keep that towel on until their panties are firmly in place.

And nobody’s looking

And Nobody’s Looking! Because we are so ashamed of nudity we can’t possibly look at a nude person. Conversations in the locker room must be conducted with no eye contact.

It’s not like that in the guys’ locker room

Now, I haven’t done extensive research, but I did boldly ask a couple of guys. A few of the men wrap themselves in towels, I’m told, but wearing only a smile is perfectly acceptable as well. Of course it is. It would be weird to stand next to a guy at a urinal and then have to cover your junk to take a few steps into the shower, wouldn’t it? I don’t know. I’m just guessing.

One of my FB friends did post that it was going over the line when a guy at his gym shaved in his birthday suit. So apparently, full Monty OK, full shaving routine and full Monty is taking it too far.

Maybe it’s not so funny

How did we become so ashamed of our bodies? Obviously, I have no problem with other women seeing mine – or do I? In fact, the protocol is not to look. I mean, duh, you don’t want to be staring at other people’s treasures, but in fact, if you pay attention to yourself in such a situation – even at the beach, you will find you are deliberately NOT looking. Deliberately not looking is different from just not staring. Check yourself, and you will see it.

I once went to a women’s spiritual weekend, and there was a moment when we were asked to look at one another’s bodies. Like, really look, not in a lewd way, but just look. I realized I had never done that. I had deliberately, always, avoided looking at other people’s bodies, but especially female bodies.

We are ashamed of our bodies. We are unaware of other people’s bodies. And I have news for you.

They are a thing of beauty.

I was struck at that moment at how beautiful so many people were, without knowing it. If you think about it, it’s obvious. You see so many figures of women in art, because they are a thing of beauty. And yet.

We are shamed

We are shamed into thinking that certain body types are right and others are wrong. We are shamed into thinking that we shouldn’t be looking at ourselves or others.

How can we love ourselves completely when we are so ashamed we have to hide our bodies even when we are getting dressed? Who are we protecting? Who am I protecting? Am I so worried I’m going to offend someone if they accidentally get a glance of my bush in the 10 seconds it takes me to pull on my skivvies? I visited the gym in London, and it’s even worse there. They have little separate dressing rooms with curtains so that if you don’t want to change in the regular locker room, you can get more modesty in those little cells. Needless to say, I took the locker nearest the door and made a point of undressing and dressing with reckless abandon.

Take a look

If you are ready to take a stand for womanhood, for the beauty that we all are, it’s time to recognize the beauty and wholeness of our bodies and the bodies of others.

If you aren’t yet ready to prance around in the buff, that’s fine – but if you wear a bikini on the beach, it’s time you stopped wearing it in the ladies’ locker room. It’s stupid. You look fine. Plus we know what you have – you were just wearing a bikini a second ago.

And look. Look at people. Start with people wearing clothes, and with scantily-clad people, but look at them with grace and respect, just like looking someone in the eye. Notice there is a way to look that is neither judgmental nor sexual. It’s just accepting.

Hey, that’s your body. You’ve been travelling around in it for a while. When you can appreciate those bodies around you, you will find you can start accepting and appreciating yours.

And if you see me streaking in the locker room, now you’ll know why.