There are three type of women in the locker room at my gym; the bathroom changers, the quick changers, and the casual nudists.
Over the last several years I’ve transitioned from a quick changer to firmly embracing the latter category.
Come on ladies, if you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable being naked in front of other women than when and where will you feel safe, confident, and normal sans clothes?
I’m not suggesting that we all just lounge around in there letting it all hang out but sucking it in, covering it up, and generally avoiding baring it all (or any of it!) in the company of other women is a great disservice to yourself and those around you.
I distinctly remember being in the gym locker room with my friend Sarah when I was 19 or 20. She was a few years older than me, maybe 25 at the time, and we’d both just finished showering (after my first ever Pilates class!). I did my quick change magic, making sure that no skin was exposed for more than a mere moment, then patiently waited while Sarah took her (naked) time; lotion, deodorant, hair, then eventually clothes. I was in awe, not of her naked body but of her nakedness. She’d shared with me more than one insecurity and so I knew that she had no intention of “flaunting” her bare body, rather she was in a locker room, at a gym, with other women. In other words, a total appropriate place to be naked and give herself a little self care.
It’s taken me nearly a decade to arrive at a similar bare-it-all mentality but it’s here to stay. It’s not about flaunting anything; it’s about embracing “flaws”, dispelling embarrassment, facing insecurity, and respecting the skin we’re in.
I also highly recommend skinny dipping at least once a year. 🙂
love this post, I have been noticing this at the pool communal showers. Being 35 weeks pregnant makes me more and less self conscious. I feel great in my pregnant body and am embracing it.
Yay, and you’re more gorgeous than ever!
Powerful post, Faith, and has sparked reflection on my changing nakedness comfort and confidence over 60+ years. I heartily agree with you. And Cedar – I also loved my pregnant body, and I’m noticing now in my very different aging body I also feel more & less self-conscious. In a body that is changing rapidly, that is unfamiliar to the Me inside, nakedness sometimes feels so vulnerable. And, I am beginning to feel free enough to comfortable in my nakedness.
I love that you used the word vulnerable Amy. I’ve definitely noticed for myself the process of becoming comfortable with my own nakedness has corresponded with my comfort in accepting my vulnerability as well.
When I was growing up my best friend was my neighbor girl Sarah. We were the same age. Our moms were only two years apart in age and they were best friends too. They still are to this day, in fact.
My mom was always rather private about her body. She was only nude in front of me a couple of times that I remember as a child, and it was extremely brief both times.
So I was always on the shy side about my body for the first 13 years of my life.
Sarah had grown up much more comfortable with nudity in the presence of other females, and her and her mom Rebecca would go swimming a lot at a near by YMCA where they would use a locker room on a regular basis. I remember one time when Sarah and I were probably about 12 years old she had me sleep over on a Saturday night. She took a shower shortly before we were going to try to go to sleep, although we didn’t usually fall asleep until really late. Anyway, Sarah came out of the bathroom after showering and she walked back into her room buck naked while casually drying her hair with a towel. I know that I must have turned bright red with embarrassment?!?1 I don’t think she even noticed that it was awkward for me?
One time when I was 13 years old Sarah and her mom asked me to go swimming with them at the YMCA. The YMCA women’s locker room had a large communal shower area like schools have with no stalls, just shower heads that were attached at the top of a poll with 4 shower heads in a circle. They may call them shower trees, I think?
So after we swam we headed back to the locker room. As soon as you would walk back into the women’s locker room from the pool the first thing you came to was a set of hooks on the wall right in the shower room. As soon as we walked into the shower room Sarah and her mom removed their swimsuits and hung them on hooks.
I was really caught off guard, and I just stood there at first as they removed their swimsuits. After maybe 30 seconds I thought that it might actually be more embarrassing to be “the baby” who was too afraid to be seen nude. So I took off my swimsuit too. It was kind of surreal feeling walking through the locker room to our lockers in the nude.
Rebecca then got out a bottle of body wash and a bottle of shampoo and we headed back to the showers. At first I thought that I was going to die of embarrassment, but after a minute in the shower I started to relax. It helped that the bigger majority of the women and girls in the locker room were also showering in the nude. So I would have been in the minority if I had showered in my swimsuit.
That night at the YMCA really helped because a few months later I started high school and I was on the swim team. None of the girls ever showered in a swimsuit after practices or meets with the swim team, everyone showered in the nude, so that night at the YMCA helped me know that it wasn’t so bad after all, and the group showering after practices and meets was no big deal.
I take my now 11 year old daughter swimming at that same YMCA a couple of times a month, and we always shower in the nude after a swim. I wanted her to grow up feeling much more comfortable with her body than I did for the first 13 years of my life. So I always made sure that she would see that I could shower and change comfortably in the locker room. I will be curious to see if she can maintain the same comfort level when puberty starts? I hope that she does!
Here’s a link to an article that I think you will enjoy. It has to do with girls and body image.