Truth be told, I did not grow up in a naked house. Make no mistake there was a healthy regard for one's physical self... the standard self esteem was "dished out" over one's physical form. We walked around in pajamas or underwear just as much as the next family, but there was a standard uniform of undergarments used at any given time. Ever a fan of outfits, you can imagine that this "bare clothing minimum" suited (no pun intended) me fine. In fact I assumed the rest of the world followed similar "Behind Clothes Doors Policy" That was until I met the "Naked Girl".
My latest locker room experience is so common place that it is merely a prototype, if you will. It stands as an example of all previous and future encounters. It is not fiction. It happens to me all the time and I am not alone.
There I was at the Aquatic Centre in Vancouver. I had just finished a fabulous 1500 metre swim and walked into the women's changing room to shower, change and do what any normal woman does after a swim... You know... lather, rinse, repeat. There are two change rooms for women at the Aquatic Centre. There is the "common" change room which is like any public pool changing room. Then there is the "Adults Only" change room which is for women who do not want to change in front of 4 year old boys staring in fascination at their girlie bits. I, ever a fan of elitism, always chose the latter. The "Adults Only" change room, as it happens was closed for cleaning. The "Adults Only" change room has separate private showers, each with a curtain. Such is not the case in the "common" change rooms.
In my experience women fall into one of three categories of naked locker room behaviour. You have the "Naked Girl" who really is the subject of this article. On the other end of the spectrum you have the "Under the Towel Girl" who essentially uses her towel as a shield from the outside world unless she is changing in a bathroom stall with the door closed (no judgement here- just an observation). And then you have everything in between. As far as locker room nudity goes, I would classify myself as a middle of the road naked person. I shower, change and leave. Should you find yourself in a locker room next to me, you may see parts of me naked, however, you WILL NOT be able to draw me nude from memory.
I can not say the same for some of my locker room sisters. For there in the "common" shower room was what I could only describe as a cross between a shampoo advertisement and a burlesque show. I recently read that a women's fitness establishment in the US banned nudity in its locker rooms in order to provide women with body image issues with a nonthreatening atmosphere. I must admit, I thought (and still do think) this was ridiculous. I'm all for women having nonthreatening atmospheres but to ask our fellow sisters to change with the "over the bra, under the towel" trick from the safety of a locker room is yet another example of how common sense is the greatest example of literary irony in existence today.
As for the scene in the public shower of the "common" locker room, there she was in all of her splendor, lathering up like a peep show professional, the latest and greatest "Naked Girl". I will spare you the details, but it is safe to say that I am not being a prude when I say that a woman does not need to scrub herself that thoroughly unless she has just been to a nuclear reactor spill. This was a chlorinated pool, not Chernobyl. Having spent a full five minutes in a perverted after school special in the showers, I ventured into the changing rooms only to discover three women standing (I kid you not) full frontal on the benches and putting on lotion. These were three separate women, not three friends. The weather called for naked and I was in the middle of a vagina hailstorm.
I will end it there. As it stands, I blame the the "common" change rooms but in retrospect this was not my first encounter with the inevitable "Naked Girl" who parades around the locker room either chatting on her cell phone or doing her taxes in all her natural glory. We have all seen her. She comes in various shapes and sizes and inevitably her locker is always the one next to ours. "Naked Girl" always engages in conversation, always posing the challenge of where to look when you talk to her and ONLY uses her towel to dry her feet. She makes the even most self assured woman feel a little shy.
I have searched the medical literature to secure some scientific basis for my claim that this woman really should put some clothes on, but I have come up empty. There is little data on the lack of sanitation of the situation.
I did come upon some interesting articles about STD transmission in male locker rooms but this was as a result of sexual activities in said locker rooms. Incidentally, gyms in New York are required by law to enforce the state sanitary code against sex on their premises, often post signs notifying exercisers that "inappropriate behavior" is not permitted.
As for the Girls Gone Wild- locker room edition which we have all encountered, there is little to find, scientifically. However, I believe it was Charles Darwin who said "where science ends, faith begins".
And so, my cyber sisters, let us evolve as Darwin intended us to- save the sexy scrub show for the privacy of your own bathroom or the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Ever a fan of self expression- it really is something that one should do in the comfort of one's own home or peep show window. In the spirit of sisterhood and in the name of all locker rooms everywhere, ladies, I pray that we may strive to find a tiled public changing room where naked women everywhere can co-exist. Where we shall be judged not by the size of our waist to hip ratio but by the name on our gym bag; not by the quality of our breast augmentation, but by the quality of our $75 Bumble and Bumble conditioner. And let us say, Amen.