Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/19/2013 12:00 PM   :  845 comments   :  168,836 Views

I grew up playing school sports and taking phys ed class, so I've been in my share of locker rooms. But now that I'm an adult, the only locker room I encounter is at the gym. And to be perfectly honest, I'm really—I mean REALLY—uncomfortable changing in the women's locker room. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the odd woman out or if I'm normal after all.

When I was in high school, everyone would change in the locker room before gym, practices and games. But unlike my parents' generation, we weren't required to shower there afterwards, and I don't think a single girl ever used the locker room showers. Beyond that, we were mostly clothed most of the time. Although you wouldn't know it from seeing how Hollywood often depicts the "girls locker room," there were no thongs or bare chests. At my school, the girls would change as quickly as possible, usually not talking to each other much and facing away from one another. And when we'd have to put on sports bras, we were pros on being prudish: We'd put our sports bras on top of our underwire bras, and then unclasp and strategically pull the underwire bra out from underneath the sports bra—never exposing anything to anyone. I never thought any of this was weird or uncomfortable at the time. Perhaps I was more comfortable with my body then than I am today. But now that I have the choice about where to change, rare is the day that I change clothes in my gym locker room.

I don't know why I feel so weird about it. Maybe it's because this environment is strikingly different than the locker rooms of my youth. Here, women actually walk around, face each other, and even talk to each other in various states of undress. And they use the showers, too! And it's not just the thin ones or older ones or the fit ones. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes seem to be really comfortable being naked or half-naked in front of other women. Not me. I pretty much avoid it if at all possible, usually changing in the restroom at work before I head to the gym, or sometimes changing in the bathroom stall inside the locker room.

I don't know what I'm so afraid of—maybe silent judgment? We all know how women can be, how we size each other up and compare ourselves to others. Maybe I don't like it just because it's so different than what I grew up with. Or maybe it's a generational thing. I know that my mom and grandmother are a lot more comfortable about this stuff than my sister and I are.

But in reality, I'm actually jealous. I wish I could be as free and feel as comfortable about my own body as these women seem to feel about theirs.

How about you? Do you feel self-conscious in the locker room? Or do you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing?

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  • 795
    I am so thankful the gym I go to doesn't even have traditional locker rooms. There are specific single shower rooms, a regular restroom and a tanning room that can be used as a changing room if necessary. - 10/13/2013   8:45:30 AM
  • MLAN613
    For me, it's a matter of not wanting customers to see me naked. I work at the gym I use. I am forced to attend an early morning class due to my horrible work schedule for my full time job and thus need to shower there. I hate it but I can't go to work schedule. - 9/4/2013   2:58:19 PM
  • 793
    I do not change in the locker room. My Y had 5 dressing rooms one for boys under 18 ( or men and their girls under 7) One for girls Under 18 ( or women and their boys under 7) , one family ( parents and kids with children over 7 - this has separate rooms partitioned off for privacy ) and one for adult women and one for adult men 18 and over - children are never supposed to be in these and adults with out children are never supposed to be in the other three. It has never failed that there are kids - some as old as 10 in the women's room. I have gotten all sorts of inappropriate comments and questions - as well as mommies who get mad that I was naked in from of their kids. I don't swim anymore - and I go to a local restaurant to use the bathroom. I used to love swimming. - 9/2/2013   2:31:47 PM
    It wasn't until I got my own apartment and lived in it for several months that I felt comfortable being nude for an extended period of time with just myself, so no, I never have changed in the locker room unless I could have a stall. I did suffer for it during the swimming unit in high school. The pool was so saturated with chlorine that my skin got really dry. I scratched myself raw and still have scars. - 7/24/2013   11:39:36 AM
  • 791
    I grew up with 3 big brothers, so I've always been modest. In PE in school we had to shower until I got older - hated every minute of it. No I do not use the gym locker room, I dress at home and shower and change at home. I have friends that strut (so they say) around nude in the locker room, nope not me.
    - 7/24/2013   11:06:13 AM
  • 790
    I only change in the locker room if no one is in there (but I secretly worry about cameras.) I use the restroom stall. - 6/16/2013   1:44:52 PM
  • 789
    I was self-conscious about it before I moved to Italy. Here there aren't any stalls and people just change right in front of each other. They carry on conversations too. I had to get used to it and it doesn't bother me, though I still don't use the open showers. - 6/5/2013   3:43:18 PM
  • 788
    I was self-conscious about it before I moved to Italy. Here there aren't any stalls and people just change right in front of each other. They carry on conversations too. I had to get used to it and it doesn't bother me, though I still don't use the open showers. - 6/5/2013   3:43:18 PM
  • 787
    At the Y I don't change out in the open in the locker room. I either go to the family bathroom, which is private, or I go in the handicapped bathroom stall and change in there. After I get out of the pool, I go to the shower and close the curtain with my swim suit on, dry off and get dressed in the shower with the curtain pulled. Some women strip down right out by the locker,, not me! - 6/5/2013   2:48:32 PM
    No, I don't change in the locker room. When I was young and in shape, I had no problem with it---well, until some woman left her number in my locker. Totally freaked me out and for about 3 weeks, I started changing in the changing rooms. But, since I usually worked out on my lunch hour, this really cut into my time, so I just went extra early when there was hardly anyone in the locker room.

    Now, I just don't do it because of my poor body image--although I don't think I have to fear phone numbers appearing in my locker anymore. ;) - 5/27/2013   8:51:22 AM
  • KD7IEM
    No big deal to me. I am happy with what my body looks like. - 5/24/2013   11:59:01 PM
  • 784
    I'm glad it's not just me! I avoid changing in the locker room and when I have had no choice, I was very uncomfortable. I kept telling myself it's silly but it never goes away. - 5/24/2013   6:19:37 PM
  • 783
    I have always felt uncomfortable with changing in the locker room! It's because I was always told with a passion from my mom was that nobody need to see your "no-no" places...... So I have either found a stall or a shower and changed in there away from others. Even into my adulthood I still do the same thing, but now I think it's more because of my body and how I look at myself :s - 5/24/2013   12:27:33 AM
    Wow,I thought it was only me.I'm really uncomfortable changing and showering
    at the gym. Thanks for your post. - 5/23/2013   4:28:28 PM
  • 781
    In general, I don't go to work before or after the gym (I'm a stay at home mom and a Zumba Instructor) so I generally arrive and leave in my gym clothes. I work out at the YMCA, so it's pretty easy going there and has patrons of all ages, shapes, and sizes! We have gone to there to go swimming, and that's the ONLY time I change in the locker room! One of the Y's I frequent does have changing stalls, so if I was there by myself then I would probably use those, but usually I have my children with me when it comes time to change in the locker room. We generally arrive with our suits on under our clothes and then after leaving the pool I try to change as quickly as possible. - 5/19/2013   10:47:11 PM
  • 780
    It's not a peep show. I normally attend the gym by myself, so I don't chat with the other women. I get there, change, then get out on the floor. I may exchange pleasantries with other women, but I keep changing while I do it. - 5/19/2013   9:05:52 AM
  • 779
    While I don't like changing in front of others (feel nervous more than dread), I won't go to a gym because I HATE working out in front of others. People say, 'Oh, nobody cares what you do.' Untrue. Do you know how many stories I hear from coworkers about others in the gym? How about at uni when I *did* belong to the gym and the jocks mocked anybody and everybody else. They'd just stand around, laughing at people aloud. Also? I knew 2 girls who were not at all fit and they did the same thing. I'd rather work out and get my endorphin high at home. It's not changing rooms but when I'm trying my all and being made fun of that ruined it (plus, the continuing 'drama' of people being snarky about their fellow gym-goers!). I'm so proud of anybody who doesn't let it get to them cos I'm HAPPY on my own! - 5/13/2013   11:02:52 AM
  • 778
    I have never had that kind of mental problem. I guess it is because I go about my business as if they other people are not there. Probably because they do the same thing. No one is comparing themselves to anyone else in the locker room. - 5/12/2013   6:48:50 PM
  • 777
    Ever since high school I've never been able to change in the locker room, I have to go into a changing or bathroom stall. Even if I don't have to change my bra I can't do it. The most I can do is lift my shirt up to adjust my heart rate monitor if it isn't situated right on my chest. - 5/9/2013   11:34:41 PM
  • 776
    The rare occasions when I use the locker room I hurry and dress under my towel, a trick my mom taught us at the beach. I don't parade around naked, except in my own home when I lived alone. - 5/9/2013   12:20:24 PM
  • 775
    I'm totally self conscious!! I've never been able to change in front of people..... - 5/8/2013   3:50:42 PM
  • 774
    I always change in the stall. I know its my own mindset but that's how I do it. I change a lot at work as well. I feel as long as I am going to to the gym does it matter where I change? - 5/8/2013   8:21:52 AM
  • 773
    I feel the same way and wish I didn't. I would love to be as comfortable with my body as others seem to be. Great blog. - 5/6/2013   11:37:58 AM
  • 772
    I feel the same way - - 5/4/2013   11:00:30 AM
  • HETZ51
    I was in high school when the gym teacher stood outside of the shower and checked you off if you came out naked and wet. I don't like changing in front of others, but I will if I have to. - 5/4/2013   1:34:18 AM
  • HETZ51
    I was in high school when the gym teacher stood outside of the shower and checked you off if you came out naked and wet. I don't like changing in front of others, but I will if I have to. - 5/4/2013   1:34:17 AM
  • 769
    At the catholic grade school we never had gym. At High school, I don't remember changing for class. we just had to wear shorts under our uniforms and just took off our skirts. I don't remember if we were smelly but just imagine.
    - 5/3/2013   1:04:09 PM
  • 768
    For those of you who are self-conscious in the locker room, please just try it. You really have nothing to lose. Not worrying about what other people think is amazingly freeing. - 4/26/2013   5:50:29 PM
  • 767
    I'm self-conscious in the locker room, too; I like a little privacy when I'm changing, so I tend to change either when no one else is there, in a bathroom stall, or, after a shower, behind a closed curtain. I have lost over 100 pounds and have a fair bit of loose skin; I'm happy with my body overall, just don't want to show the world everything. - 4/26/2013   2:31:04 PM
    My grandma was from Austria and we went to the pool all the time when I was a kid. She would scold me for trying to cover up my body, telling me that everyone in the locker room had the same body parts that I did and there is no need to be ashamed. I took that to heart and today, at 28, I have no problem changing freely in the locker room... Its better than squeezing myself into a bathroom stall trying desperately to not touch anything and trying to figure out where I am going to put by clothes besides the gross floor. Some woman will look at me like I am nuts to "expose" myself this way, but I don't mind. Maybe they will look at me like an example and know that their bodies, no matter what shape or size, are beautiful too! - 4/26/2013   11:06:40 AM
  • 765
    Don't have a problem with it. Of, course, I try not to parade around nude for a long period of time, but I just do what I need to do quickly and go about my business. - 4/23/2013   4:08:14 PM
  • 764
    I have to change in the locker room--I exercise in the pool. I, too, find that younger women are shyer about their bodies, which is interesting compared with how completely that generation shares so many other aspects of their lives on social media.
    I think it's a good reality check to see all kinds of bodies and realize that almost everyone has at least a little cellulite here or some loose skin there. And nowdays there are some really interesting tattoos! - 4/23/2013   1:32:18 PM
    I don't think either way is bad. I've insisted on learning to be comfortable changing in public, but I think if you're not use one of the little changing rooms and that's just fine.
    I was a little bothered when someone at the Y wrote up on the comment page that it was inappropriate for the women to be naked in the locker room. Seems like that's exactly appropriate to me. If you're bothered by other peoples' nudity (not exhibitionism, that's different. I just mean plain old being naked amongst others of the same gender while changing) that might be a concern.

    I celebrate that people of all shapes & sizes can feel comfortable changing. It's also okay if you're not comfortable. That's why there are changing cubbies in our locker room, too. don't stress over it! there are bigger things to worry about in life!!! - 4/22/2013   6:06:34 PM
  • 762
    We weren't required to use the showers either (I think we're technically the same generation) and we generally dressed/undressed the same way. I took the bra off first, retaining my shirt over my shoulders but taking my arms out. I then threaded my arms into my sports bra, and the shirt came off and the bra on in one swoop. I think some of us didn't shower just because no one else did, or because there really wasn't time: they didn't let us out of PE early enough to! I never used stalls and still don't. Though, I did go through boot camp and spend some time each day with 39 other naked women in the showers and squad bay, but I don't think that would have changed much. I change in the locker room and no one looks at each other.

    It's definitely NOT a matter of "body image modeling" (I saw to people like DSelinger, who feel like a wish for privacy of the naked body could be a shame issue). I don't wear short skirts. I wear shorts over my bikini bottoms. I'm 5'3 140, but I cover up because I feel more comfortable that way. I have no issue with people who do wear little (ok, there are a few versions of 'little' I can do without, but that's personal taste).

    I'm getting convoluted.
    There's no reason to feel ashamed of not wanting to be naked or see nakedness. It's a personal preference. For some it could be rooted in body shame, but for others it could be simply modesty. Do what makes YOU comfortable. - 4/22/2013   5:48:45 PM
  • 761
    Some seem to think there is "right" or "wrong" opinion on this issue. I don't agree. Some of us are comforatable with nudity in public and others are not. Either way should be okay and acceptable without being judged for having body issues or fear of lesbianism or anythng else. This is a group who supports each other to maintain healthy weight and exercise more, so why judge anyone based on where they feel comforable changing clothes? It is great that we all change clothes somewhere to EXERCISE! Good for us. - 4/22/2013   3:24:22 PM
    My reason for not changing in the locker is different from the author. I am germaphobic. I try not to touch anything when I go into the bathroom/locker room section of the gym. Also, I want to get out of there as quickly as possible. I can do all of that stuff at home. Whenever I do walk through the dressing room, I don't notice anyone undressed. I look straight ahead so as not to embarrass anyone. - 4/22/2013   3:21:31 PM
  • 759
    I have to agree with Popeyetheturtle -- it just seems to be a different time. I don't walk around naked, but I change and get on with my life. And I for sure don't have anything that needs to be flaunted :) - 4/22/2013   3:11:01 PM
    Thank you for posting this, Coach Nicole. I, too, envy people who are comfortable changing in the open but I don't expect to ever feel that way myself. At 5 years old, I was rinsed naked in full view of the road after playing in the river. My siblings and cousins didn't mind but I hated it. Fifty+ years later, I still do. If someone as fit as you are can feel this way, maybe I don't have to feel so odd about wanting to be covered up. - 4/22/2013   2:47:40 PM
    Yes, I feel exactly the same way you do. Though I really do have body image issues, so honestly I don't know if I'm normal or not either. LOL I was severely bullied in school, insulted all the time in my youth, called ugly and all of that, so that is where my self-image issues stem from. I was always uncomfortable about changing in front of anyone, especially after I started growing breasts. Some of the nasty girls would say things, so I just became uncomfortable. Since I have gained a lot of weight since my childhood, I am even more self-conscious than I was before. - 4/22/2013   1:31:12 PM
  • 756
    Hi Nicole...Actually, I was self conscient, when I was a teen. And might I remind you that my weigh I used to be around 115 kg (230 lb), and mind you...I probably should have the most weird body still, because of all the loose skin (85 kg now!)! But then I started thinking to myself that...just like I wasnīt judging.. and had my personal image issues, so did everyone else in the locker room.

    That made me put it in to perspective... Do you judge others bodies when your in the locker... I donīt ! I just take my bath, get dressed and get out the door! Iīm sure all the other girls do exactly the same.. So why should I mind? If I donīt judge, why should I believe others are judging? It makes no sense when you think about it..
    - 4/22/2013   12:00:20 PM
  • 755
    Since I usually work out at home I'm not faced with that situation. But thinking about it and putting myself in that situation I would not change. I'm too self conscious about myself to have anyone see it - 4/22/2013   11:39:45 AM
    Nicole, I don't think it is silent judgment, but probably just modesty. Nothing wrong with that at all! - 4/22/2013   10:46:52 AM
  • 753
    I change in the locker room and really don't have an issue with it. I do wish gyms would offer a changing area for the shy girls, there is nothing worse than getting to the gym and NEEDING to go to the restroom only to find every stall is full of people changing clothes. - 4/22/2013   9:59:13 AM
  • 752
    I don't really "like" changing in the gym locker room, but I do it anyway as quickly as possible. I don't like the constricted (and dirty) feeling of a restroom stall and heaven forbid anyone ever call me "prude!" - 4/22/2013   9:54:48 AM
  • 751
    I just simply don't like being starkers around people I don't know very well. I think some people are just like that. - 4/22/2013   9:52:45 AM
  • 750
    It's funny..a few years ago, I didn't like changing in a locker room. Now, who cares? I'm 50+, lost 80 lbs so things aren't so firm anymore, but I feel good about myself. I'm healthy and happy, and it's a locker room, so everyone is running around, trying to get dressed for work (I mostly go early am before work). No one cares what I look like, just if we can get the hair dryer! I think the reason I don't care anymore is that I feel good about myself, just the way I am. Not perfect (I can't lose the last 10 pounds for anything...and since I'm older, gravity has had it's way with me) but reasonably good. Everything works and I'm in pretty good shape for a lady my age who has had eating issues most of my life. So I just do what I gotta do to get ready for my workout or swim. Plus, I LOVE the showers at the gym...nice and hot, and afterwards, if it's cold out, I wrap up in a towel and sit in the sauna for 10 minutes. Nice! - 4/22/2013   9:34:33 AM
  • 749
    I am a large woman there is no doubt, but my family says i don't have modesty, I use the gym, pool etc and change in the locker rooms also use the showers. I am not really worried about what people think. It is what it is. I pay for my gym experience and the locker room is part of the package.

    but everyone has a right to what he or she believes. I do not feel it is my right to judge. - 4/22/2013   1:31:30 AM
  • 748
    I must've tried 20 times to post a comment this morning when I saw this on my iPhone = so many comments that my browser kept crashing every time I opened up the "post a comment" box. Now I'm back home. I really hear ya here, though - I would just as soon not change in public at the local Y. If I'm in the water aerobics with the "older gals" then it's not so uncomfortable, as we all look more or less similar with pregnancy stretch, surgery scars, billowing flab, enough cellulite to embarrass an orange... but if it's after a class of like yoga or those high powered step classes where all the SpandexBunnies have been working out in their scanty clothing, uh huh, no way, I'm not changing when they are in the locker room... will wait for the larger handicapped access bathroom stall, or go home stinky and bathe there...yep, I have body image issues, for sure!! Something I gotta work on and maybe it gets better as the weight comes off. Or not. I don't remember being pleased to prance around nekkid when I lost weight in high school - was still fairly modest then. Might have something to do with my sexual assault issues too, who knows?? - 4/22/2013   12:50:22 AM
    I live in China (and im not Chinese) and the gyms are very much... like you mention. Girls (and not so girls) love to hung out naked like whatever. At first, I used to change in the toilet stall but little by little, I started to change outside, by the lockers. I dont take my time and flaunt myself naked, I just stick to my business... and i have many many kilos to shed, so that can be kind of awkward when, being a foreigner, one calls attention, imagine being a chubby foreigner... way more.

    But little by little... i start to care less about what they think. - 4/21/2013   10:37:19 PM
  • 746
    Go to the gym dressed, and leave immediately after my classes! Yes, sometimes I'm a sweaty mess but I don't want to take the time to shower & change. AND, I hate using the locker room too. Our gym's showers have hooks on the wall behind the shower stalls so you have to come out naked to grab your towel. No place to change but out in the open and I'm just not interested. - 4/21/2013   9:06:48 PM

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