Friday, April 18, 2008

Towel, meet naked woman. I'd like you to be friends.

As a lapsed Catholic and socially maladjusted introvert, I have a healthy sense of shame. And never have I wanted to share that shame as much as when I'm in my health club locker room. Why, you ask? Because people need to put some goddamn clothes on.

Well, it's a locker room, you say, of course there are going to be naked women. And you're right. People are showering, they're changing clothes. That's totally normal and natural and I have no problem with it. But then there are the other people. You know the ones I mean. The ones who insist on not wearing clothes or a towel when they absolutely could be. I think it's weird and kinda rude...and I'm also pretty sure it's scarring me for life. My retinas are infuriated.

I'm particularly bitter because of a middle aged woman who sat naked in front of my locker last night and refused to move. I walked into the room, innocently whistling a jaunty tune as I approached the locker only to look up and stop dead in my tracks because, holy cow, there was a middle aged naked woman in front of my locker! So I stopped, turned to the nearby scale and busied myself with a weigh-in, thinking I'd give her time to put a towel on or even three well-placed wash clothes. I wasn't picky at that point. But no, half a minute later, I turned around and she was still naked as the day she was born, digging like a gargantuan pale gopher through her gym bag. And then she walked toward the scale - toward me -- to weigh herself. I darted around her like a clothed bunny, extricated my stuff from the locker and bolted, never to erase the jiggly translucent nightmare I had just witnessed.

Is this another woman etiquette thing I missed because asthma (or "Geek Lung," as I call it) kept me out of gym as a teenager? Is this just something we women do? Is it perfectly acceptable to be naked in a room full of strangers and engage in the following activities: bending over to put on your shoes (you're naked and wearing shoes???), blow drying your hair, telling a really long joke, applying make-up, sitting in front of your locker reading a magazine or breaking up with your boyfriend on your cell phone? All while naked? While I'm in the room?

Honestly, I would never inflict myself on unwitting strangers like that. I have modesty. Sure, it's mixed with probably a pathological sense of shame, but wouldn't the world be a better place -- at least aesthetically -- if some folks had just a bit more of that themselves? Like maybe Britney would've gone to Shame School and learned how to get out of a car? Or that woman last night would've known not to leave damp butt cheek prints on the bench in front of my locker?

C'mon America, let's not feel so good about our bodies! Let's cover up a little! Trust me, it's warmer and as the fully-dressed Wilford Brimley used to say, "It's the right thing to do." At least for me. And that's really all that matters.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sister, I have been there. You are not the weird one here. You did not miss anything while Geek Lung kept you out of gym. Walking around naked in a gym locker room is not acceptable. And I hate to say it, but isn't it always someone you don't want to see naked? The good-looking women never walk around naked even though they could.

Nightfall said...

I'm with you on this issue. While I applaud their confidence in their bodies, I just can't get past the fact that there are NAKED WOMEN WALKING AROUND LIKE IT'S NOTHING!!

I would change inside my locker if I could figure out how.

At least it wasn't naked old man butt cheek prints on the bench...

onepinkshoe said...

I'm a waaay lapsed Catholic too but don't care much about nudity. Although, I agree that, um, ugly naked people are no fun to look at. I feel comfortable naked though, so maybe that's why other people's nudity doesn't bother me?

Jodie said...

Amen! I wish I were cool enough not to care when there are naked people around, but it's just something I don't care to see when I'm at the gym.

dr.gambit said...

okay, as the token guy here, this is the ultimate "piss me off" thing...the naked guys, put some F#@King clothes on...

the worst: creepy old man brushing his teeth, a good 15 feet away from his locker...naked...and CREEPY!!!

and have you seen naked men? old and hairy, not attractive, and severely traumatizing. not to be sexist, but at least women have interesting bodies...the boys...well, it is just a different matter... there ought to be a law against this.

Liz...please fix it. Thanks

zephyrus said...

Haha, I am totally one of the ones who walks around naked. But, to be fair, I only go from my locker (where I get out of clothes quickly but don't dawdle about once naked) to the shower without bothering with a towel (because the towel I do bring to the gym is travel-sized and only large enough to dry, not cover) and then back. And then I cover up again immediately. This doing-other-things-naked is pretty strange.

I used to be the chick who would dawdle to the end of gym and change in the bathroom stall during junior high/high school. I guess I got tired of the extra work it took to hide from my (and everyone else's) nakedness?

LadyGypsy said...

I'm going to ignore the whole issue of naked people in the gym and just say...you all rock for even going to a gym in the first place. And I promise...if I ever get to the point where I am fitter than what the free exercise videos Comcast offers me and deserve to go to a gym, I will not be nekkid in the locker room.

Anjuli said...

I guess after going to the gym 3-4 times a week for the past few years, I've become used to other people's nakedness in the lockerroom. After realizing how many of them get naked without embarrassment, I've become comfortable with being naked around other people, because hey, I'm not the only one without a perfect body. At the same time, I see no need to hang around naked in the lockerroom unless you're doing something that's just more convenient to do naked, such as drying off or applying lotion. For other people who want to have long conversations in the nude, well, I just don't look at them.

The Modern Gal said...

There was a Sex in the City episode on this where Charlotte was scared to take her towel off in the health club locker room. It was like the only time in the entire run of the show that I sided with Charlotte.

RedCochina said...

I joined the National Guard at 17 to help pay for college. The first three days of boot camp we were so busy processing paperwork, uniforms, etc. our drill sergeants "forgot" to allow us personal hygiene time. In Missouri. In July. All 160 of us in our platoon smelled like an unholy biological weapon. By the time we got to the showers, I was so grateful to rinse off the film of slime that I forgot my shyness.

I've had no problem walking around naked since (though I do dress before I dry my hair). I also kind of snicker at the gals who nearly fall over while trying to simultaneously cover up with the towel and wrangle on their panties. Don't hurt yourself! :)

Liz said...

Honestly, I have no trouble with people doing normal things like changing and drying off, etc. It's just the weird stuff like, I don't know, reading a magazine or writing out a shopping list in front of me that I think is really off-putting and kinda weird.

qtilla said...

I'm all about drying my hair, applying makeup, whatnot whilst nude. But not in public.
Walking to the showers and changing clothes is one thing. I'm not scared that someone will see my lady regions and keel over and die. But I'm not going to update my resume or read a book naked. At least not in the locker room.

jendoop said...

I'm rolling with laughter. Have you ever seen the 'Good naked, Bad naked' Seinfeld?

Anonymous said...

Weird. It's just a cultural thing. If you made the effort to acclimatise yourself, I'm sure it'd be natural - look at nudes. After all, I'm sure 150 years ago people were just as offended at the sight of a woman's naked shin.

The problem is that western culture is used to associating nudity with sexuality, and people find it uncomfortable to think of ugly/old people as sexual in any way.

On the other hand, there is a hygiene issue...

whatever said...

I change in the bathroom stalls myself....

Anonymous said...

One of the most well-known TV-news-anchor women in my town is a member of my health club.

Every single thing that she does in the women's locker room is done 100% in the nude. She weighs herself nude, blow-dries her hair nude, puts on her makeup nude, sits in the women's sauna nude, walks around nude, and even carries on conversations with other women nude. To her credit she is drop-dead-gorgeous, so even though I'm a straight female I don't mind seeing it.

Funny thing, how I originally got totally used to locker room nudity, both my own and that of other females, was from gym class at my all-girls Catholic High School.

We had a mandatory shower rule, the showers were group showers with 8 different polls that had 4 shower heads each. That meant that you always had one girl facing you, and two girls right next to you, plus all the other girls at the other shower polls. And the teacher always watched us to make sure that we were showering and not goofing off.

There wasn't anywhere to hang your towel while you showered, so everyone just had to walk around nude. After the first few days of gym class you were so used to seeing other girls and being-seen nude yourself that you just didn't care anymore and never gave it another thought.

Mary

Skinny Fat Girl said...

I have to differ with everyone else.
there is nothing wrong with the human body, so there is no reason you cannot do any normal activity while in the nude. It just seems to me that many women seems uncomfortable with certain parts of the body- breasts and buttocks are one thing, bending over is another.
We all have labia, a clitoris and an anus, some are hairy, others not, some small, other not, some taut, some flabby.
It's a freaking body, that's all there is to it.
As a nude prancer (event at home, topless on the beach where allowed), I admit that at the locker room, you want to do everything before getting dressed, or you risk getting all sweaty again!