Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Social Qs: locker-room etiquette

Hello readers. Today I want to share with you an experience I had at the gym. I go to the gym a lot, but I usually come home to shower. No reason. I just like to travel light,
then get home and take my time. The other day, I stayed for a swim. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not offended when I see a bit of flesh in the female changing room, but sometimes – in my eyes – certain ladies overstep the mark. Case in point: I was casually minding my own business, trying to get into my swimsuit, carefully, discreetly, without tripping over it or letting everything hang out, when a fellow changing room user – let's call her Kim Kardashian – strutted like a model, completely naked, over to the mirror really not that far away from me. Kim picked up the hairdryer, made a sudden bend forwards – head to knee action – and started blasting her hair. Now, normally I wouldn't even notice someone doing this, but Kim was facing away from me – you follow? Her rear end was fully in my front view. I was being 'moonied'! I looked up, looked down, looked away, grappled with my swimsuit, glanced at the TV, looked in my bag, but the more I tried not to look, the more I looked! She was obviously confident with her body, but being 'moonied' made me feel awkward.

Curious to know whether my reaction was weird, I asked some of my dearest friends to share their opinions on the scenario and women's changing room etiquette in general. Here are their thoughts:

Jo says: "I swim three times a week and just have to go naked without caring. I have a new baby and don't have time to wait for a cubicle – half of them don't have doors on anyway. There's also nothing more awkward to watch than someone trying to hold a towel around themselves while hoiking their knickers on. 'Just ditch the frikking towel and get on with it!' However, I would be discreet - no bending forwards to make others feel awkward. I used to be a lot more body conscious, but now I just think 'Oh well, there are worse looking naked bodies than mind, so if you can't beat them, join them.! However, when I was school, I was showering at the public pool after a swimming lesson and saw a lady with pubes growing all the way down her inside legs. I was only about nine and it freaked me out so much! So now I always make sure I'm ready to bare all!"

Alex says: "I have no problem with nakedness in the changing rooms and I'm not afraid to flash a bit of flesh. That said, I don't know that there's any need to parade around naked and carrying on as though you're alone in your own bedroom is, in my opinion, unnecessary. If I'm honest, I tend to follow everyone else's lead – if everyone is covering up, I will too; if people are letting it all hang out, I'm more inclined to join them!"

Ali says: "I don't mind nakedness in the changing room, on the beach, etc. In fact, I quite like being around naked people – it makes me feel European. I had a Scottish upbringing, so I had to learn to dare to bare as an adult. Having said that, in the gym changing room, you can tell when someone is just being practical and wants to get changed quickly (which is usually the case) and when someone is making a point of parading about for maximum exposure (which can be a bit much). I think people of all shapes, sizes and surfaces have a responsibility not to hide away, so as not to let the body fascists win.'

Nicky says: "The gym can be a fascinating place for people watching. Although I've not been in a while, when I do go, I genuinely want to work hard and break a sweat; I find it interest though to see some women strolling around with their hair done and make up on, never working too hard should it streak and ruin their image! The changing rooms are a different matter, and anything, it seems goes. There are many women with no qualms about walking around naked; while I understand they will feel comfortable, they don't consider it might make others feel awkward. Once, I was naively walking barefoot from the shower to my locker, when I witnessed a woman vigorously filing the dry skin from her feel letting the flakes fall to the floor – needless to say I put my shoes on pretty sharpish! It seems some think of the gym changing room as their own bathroom, which I think is bad etiquette!"

Thanks for talking to me, girls. It seems I'm not alone; but we all have our own view. What are your thoughts? 

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