Posted by: Jennifer | September 9, 2009

the locker room

A gym locker room can be an interesting place, but apparently one Marie Clare writer ran into a problem when she found that her fellow gym-goers had what she felt was a unique view of what should take place in the locker room.

I nearly lost consciousness at the gym once. It was actually in the faux-teak and terra-cotta-tiled “ladies’ lounge” of an upscale health club a few blocks from my apartment. I’d decided to shave a few minutes off my morning routine by prepping for work at the gym instead of sprinting home right after Spin class. Big mistake. As I scampered from the shower to my locker, clutching a threadbare gym-issued towel barely wide enough to cover me, I caught sight of a doughy naked woman, her nipples the size of salami slices, holding aloft a compact as she carefully plucked her eyebrows. I was so distracted by her brazen nudity — by the boobs, folds, moles, and thatch — that I walked right into an open locker door, prompting the kind of woozy spell that, had I been a cartoon character, would have been accompanied by chirping birds.

I am baffled, even horrified, by women who treat the locker room like their own sandalwood-scented boudoir. I’ve seen gals, still flushed from a workout, slather lotion on their haunches like they were being filmed for the Spice Channel. Nothing is off-limits, nothing too personal: I’ve witnessed these rank exhibitionists clip their toenails, brush their teeth, even blowdry their girly bits with the communal Conair. One woman, a frizzy-haired Viola Swamp type, draped a towel over a bench and proceeded to do leg stretches in the buff.

The locker room is no place for that kind of preening. Like Thanksgiving with the family, the rules of engagement are simple: Get in, do the deed, then get the hell out. Anyone who’s ever spied me wriggling into spandex while still clad in workwear can attest to my mastery of the discreet quick-change. On the rare occasion I’ve been waylaid — fumbling with a new lock, checking my BlackBerry for an important message — I’ve always made sure I was securely wrapped in a towel or, at the very least, wearing what my old-school Jewish mother still refers to as “foundation garments.”

I can appreciate that not everyone is comfortable with the same level of nudity, and that there are those people in the world who are not comfortable with their bodies. But holy crap, are you insane, woman?! It’s a gym locker room! People are going to be naked and getting dressed and putting on lotion and stretching. Bet you ten bucks that if you go across the hall to the men’s locker room, the exact same thing is going on. Well, maybe not the exact same thing — sub out the lotion for shaving and the stretching for scratching. But you get the point. And I can tell you right now that there are very few men who would stumble out of there aghast at the idea that they just saw another man naked. They’ve been seeing each other naked in locker rooms since high school gym class. They’re over it by now. So why do women have such a problem with it?

Maybe instead of bravely putting up with her husband’s pokes and prods, and shuddering at the idea of being seen in a bathing suit, this woman should be working on the issues that have caused her to become so tightly wound. Something tells me that if she became more comfortable with her own body, she wouldn’t have such a problem with everyone else’s.


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