I scuttled into the locker room hunched over my dripping, towel wrapped 3 and 5 year old children. They glistened with excitement and accomplishment after their first week of swimming lessons had drawn to a close and I can’t say I was any less giddy. Around corners we buzzed to find our locker corridor, until we were obstinately confronted by a tall, black-haired, high-nosed nudist. She sauntered by casually enough so that I couldn’t have accused her of intentionally having choked the good vibrations out of my skin, but nonetheless she did. I was caught off-guard and covered the eyes of each of my kids with a hand, and diverted my own attention to the wet, tiled floor beneath us as to pass her without issue.
This was not my first nude locker room experience. Three years ago I came face to face with an 80-something year old woman spread-eagle in the sauna. I chose not to get my steam treatment that afternoon. Then earlier this year, a friend of mine invited me to join her on a guest pass at her gym, where we later exchanged thoughts regarding locker-room strippers. They, we chuckled, were so annoying! You could be minding your own business sitting on a bench taking your socks off and then out of nowhere- BOOB! Without warning. My initial reaction is to look away, hot-faced and embarrassed that I had just seen the private area of another person. Just as quickly as my eyes were violated I became tangled in confusion over my own reaction! Why am I such a prude? After all, locker-room culture today will make it seem normal that a person completely disrobe before another (of the same gender) and besides, we all have the same lady bits, and its all natural, and blah blah blah.
Now, typically I’m a live-and-let-live, non-confrontational hippy, but like most moms, exceptions are made when a situation involves my kids. They have never seen my naked body, and I encourage a bit of modesty among themselves, just to inculcate the practice of privacy from a young age. Its not at all that I consider the human body anything less than clean and beautiful, but I want to foster in them a sense of dignity and decency. I’d like to preserve the lost standard that there are some things that you don’t expose to others, with certain exceptions of course. Also, I’m of the persuasion that a persons private parts are a vulnerable thing. I would explain that more, but I’m confident in my readers’ ability to come to their own conclusions.
The next week of swimming lessons began pleasantly. The naked baby running around the locker room caught the attention of my 5-year old and he sweetly remarked, “Oh! Look at that baby with no clothes on!” “Yea, silly little guy, go get your shorts on!” I smiled with understanding at his mother, who chased him trying to convince his free-spirit into floatees and a pair of trunks. No problem. But I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it was to inch away from our usual locker hall, turning on our heels, barely missing the sight of a fully nude swimming enthusiast. I was turning red. We turned a corner and passed the showers where one woman stood, of course completely nude, or else I wouldn’t have mentioned her in my indignant rant, with the readily available curtain drawn wide open! Couldn’t she just close the curtain?
I try to excuse most women by thinking they’re just too lazy to mosey on into a change stall with all of their gear and that they’d rather just change by their lockers, but how does one justify not taking a second to slide a curtain over while you’re standing naked as a blue jay in the shower? How is this not indecent exposure? This was not her living room, but public domain. I rolled my eyes, tired, while my practically blind-folded kids stepped unsure around the locker room wondering when they’d be able to change and go swimming. To add to this was a woman was performing a breast self-examination in the bathroom mirror and another passer-by had a towel on her hair but nothing else. I began to feel stressed, anxious and challenged . I began questioning my own values, feeling like a minority and wondering how much damage it would do to take my censorship down a notch. And then a thing struck me which justified my discomfort. Every movie on the shelf has a rating. What is the purpose of these ratings? Why is one a “G” and one an “R”? Most times it has to do with mature content, including nudity.
The greater public cares about protecting their children from exposure to such things, which is why in many cases a “family” change room will exist. But where there aren’t, I would ask women to be more considerate. It was a silly pet-peeve to be exposed to public nudity before kids but now it’s a reason I hesitate to sign my kids up for swimming lessons, where their safety and well-being are at stake. If you’re a locker-room stripper, especially in a place where children frequent, I would ask you to reconsider. Instead of scarring a child for life, take the extra 2 minutes and go into a change-room. That’s what they’re there for. Otherwise, study the punchlines in my rant good and hard, because next time I run into you, I’m not going to scurry around the locker room looking for a proper place to uncover my kids’ eyes. I’m going to ask you what your problem is and remind you that this is not girls gone wild.