Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  877 comments   :  191,542 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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  • 827
    I go to the gym after work, so I go home and change, then drive to the gym. Saves me time. - 11/25/2014   1:16:41 PM
  • 826
    I belong to the YMCA. There are dressing booths and each shower has two curtains. Rarely do I see anyone walking around in less than fully clothed. Don't know how I'd feel in a gym like yours. - 11/25/2014   1:08:16 PM
  • 825
    I usually change at home since it's only 5 minutes away from the gym. However, if I have errands to do, I always use a bathroom stall. If I need to shower, I shower with my swimsuit on, then go to a bathroom stall to change. For me, the best way you can love your body is through modesty:)) - 11/25/2014   12:18:06 PM
  • 824
    For several years, I changed and showered in the locker room. I, too, was amazed at how freely some women would walk around without many or any clothes. Eventually, I got more comfortable with it, but never did it myself.
    After an injury, I've changed my habits and now change and shower at home. No strong reason for this, except that I was a little bothered by the cleanliness (or lack of) of the showers. - 11/25/2014   8:44:25 AM
    Great blog, something to think about. I avoid the locker room whenever possible.When I do have to use it, I change and move on. My body is amazing the way it is! I don't care to dwell on over-assessing myself or others. If someone looks great, I tell them so. If someone wants to talk while we change, cool. I guess it is just, no big deal! - 11/25/2014   7:37:29 AM
    Beldame and others, don't watch other people in the locker room! It is just plain rude and if you look that is your problem. I know my body is not perfect and I know there are many mean people in the locker room that judge (including the ones who say they just don't want to see anyone else's body wiggle into clothes, etc.) but that is your problem and your problem alone. Don't use the locker room if you don't want to see others change. I am proud of of the weight I've lost so far and if you don't want to see a wrinkle of fat of my body move when I quickly put on my sports bra, go workout at home. - 10/11/2014   2:25:11 PM
  • 821
    I'm a fan of modesty, and I wish everyone was, too. I don't care what kind of shape you're in, I just have no desire to watch you waggle your straggly pubes about in the locker room. - 10/8/2014   10:15:26 AM
    Even when I was younger and swam competitively on the local team, I would either change in a shower/bathroom stall, or my sister, cousin, and I would take turns holding up towels for each other in the corner while one of us changed. We had some teammates who were less modest, but I think those tendencies are based on one's home environment and personal feelings toward modesty. The three of us (sister, cousin, and myself) were raised to be more modest about our bodies as young kids. They both have amazing body confidence now, and regularly wear bikinis or midriff-baring outfits to workout (they also both tan well, and I don't). I however, have never outgrown that modesty and will continue to cover up. When I belonged to a gym and had to change there before/after class due to coming from work or leaving into cold weather, I waited to shower when I got home and didn't use the sauna/steam room. The YMCA back home has rules that require everyone to use a towel when in these rooms, but some gyms don't. Personally, I don't want to sit where someone else's exposed buns have been. - 9/12/2014   2:24:32 PM
  • KELLS42
    I guess I'm the odd one on the other side of the spectrum. I go to the indoor pool every day for fun and exercise some times my friends come along if us freshman don't have homework. I never have been shy with nudity I mean I leave my towel at the benches and don't use one in the sauna. A lot of my friends are shy about it but I mean we're all going through changes at 14 so I can see there perspective. So ermines I get wierd looks because I'm so open about nudity and will strike a conversation with a random person my age and forget I'm not wearing a strand of clothing... But that's just my thoughts - 9/3/2014   10:31:28 PM
  • 818
    I just started doing water therapy at the Y and the first visit I put my suit on in a shower stall because there were SO many women in the locker room loitering, not changing, just dressed talking. The next week I was alone so I did the down to skivvies and quick change. I worked in corrections for almost 10 years and had to strip search women of all shapes and sizes so I have NO issue with seeing others, but when it comes to having to remove more than my bra and underwear, I don't know how any of the inmates could ever have done it! It feels so strange! I am a very large girl, but my opinion of someone seeing my "excess" in my undies is "if you don't like what you are looking at, then quit looking at it!" Same as if I were in clothing! I have always have that attitude and I think everyone should. We are all self conscious of our bodies, but really, if the person that is looking at us doesn't think we are as beautiful as we KNOW we are inside and out, then all they need to do is stop staring and look away. Simple as that!
    - 8/14/2014   1:03:23 AM
  • 817
    My irrational fear of picking up a foot disease outweighs my fear of undressing in front of other people. Maybe it is because the locker room I go to is a pool locker room and people of all ages use it? I don't like changing in the bathroom stalls because I feel they are unclean, and while I do shower after working out/swimming, I do it as if I were on fire and with sandals on. The opportunity to get ready without kids or husband interrupting means I dry off modestly, put on a bra and pants, and then blowdry my hair, then put on a shirt and fix my hair and makeup. So there you go - the only thing I won't take off in a locker room is my sandals, and my main motivation for spending a few seconds naked or half naked in front of others is half phobia and half excitement over having blessed uninterrupted 'me' time for getting ready. - 8/4/2014   8:39:43 AM
  • 816
    I was never in a situation where I became accustomed to it, to the point where I thought maybe changing in front of others in a locker room was only in movies. Lol. Insecurities aside, I just never grew up changing around others like that, so naturally it's not something I became comfortable with. - 7/7/2014   10:16:58 AM
  • 815
    I change in the bathroom stall. I've always been modest that way. I'd also prefer not to see other people changing either - 6/16/2014   9:35:48 AM
    I am very self-conscious about it. I change in the dressing room type stalls we have in my gym locker room. I tell myself this is because I am self-conscious about my weight/body but honestly I would probably do the same thing at my goal weight. - 4/1/2014   1:28:05 PM
  • 813
    I grew up in theatre and when there are 15+ girls sharing the dressing room (plus directors and stage crew hollering for you every 10 or so minutes) modesty kinda goes out the window in favor of expediancy. I don't feel 100% comfortable in my skin and certainly wont pararde around undressed but I also don't get super bothered being less than fully dressed in public or semi public places so while I do change in the locker room, I do it quickly. It's wierd my biggest hangup is not my body but thinking someone is going to give me grief because I fully stripped down, that's probably thanks to my mother forever telling me growing up that I needed to be more modest. - 3/4/2014   12:36:48 PM
  • 812
    I attend a Senior "Lifestyle Pass" Group of wonderful ladies, and on occasion a few men join our classes, but when it comes to the LADIES LOCKER ROOM, we all feel the same way....we give each other RESPECT whenever, and however possible. Be it letting each one change in separate areas, such as one behind the SHOWER area, on the DRESSING area, two bathroom stalls are used, and one person in the open area. We also, will "allow a few people" to leave the pool at a time...lingering to gab, making plans for lunch, etc. Are we doing it because we do not want to be seen....maybe, but I honestly feel it is showing respect for each other. - 2/28/2014   8:42:33 PM
    I scanned through the newest comments below and didn't see anything similar, so maybe this is a new look at the situation.

    I'm still what the BMI index calls obese (I'm about 70 lbs overweight), and changing in the locker room makes me feel like I want to throw up. It's always crowded and despite the policy, there's no Lunk Alarm for the locker room. But I always do it anyway. Not showing anything off or swinging things in people's faces, but not going out of my way to hide either.

    I change clothes in the locker room of my gym BECAUSE of all of my issues, and because women judge. Just because my body doesn't look like what Allure and Cosmo tell me it's supposed to look like doesn't mean I should be ashamed of it. Am I overweight? Obviously. Do I need to lose weight? Yes. Am I not very attractive physically because of these things? Maybe. I don't think so, but it's a possibility, I guess. But none of this adds up to a reason I should be ashamed of my body. It's the only one I have. And also, I'm the only one responsible for the condition that it's in. So I have to own that. It might make me a nervous wreck to let people see it, but I'm never getting rid of it wholesale. So I might as well learn to like it while it's not how I want it to be, so I can love it when it is.

    Does this make any sense? - 2/28/2014   5:11:25 PM
    I go to the gym completely dressed for my workout, then go straight home for my shower, no changing. When I used to go to the pool after work, I changed in the locker room - although very quickly and discreetly. When I wasn't working but going to water exercise classes, I went into a bathroom to change into dry clothes before driving home. I've yo-yo'd between being a healthy weight and various stages of overweight since childhood - it doesn't matter what size I am - I 'm not comfortable changing in public. - 2/28/2014   5:05:20 PM
    I'm uncomfortable changing in the locker room, but I fake it. I pretend that it doesn't bother me and the more I do it, the more comfortable I am :) especially at the pool, I have to shower off the chlorine or my skin starts itching soon after, and the showers there are open to the rest of the locker room. - 2/28/2014   3:53:59 PM
  • 808
    I change and shower at the gym locker room but I don't walk around naked.

    I use a towel when walking to/from the showers. I try my best to get dressed quickly while still having the towel around me. I'm sure other women get glimpses of my body here and there but I'm not completely exposed and don't hang around chatting while undressed.

    Some women do but in my gym I noticed most women are like me. We have a few that will change in the bathroom stalls. I thought about it but can't stand the smell (yuck!).

    I think if I were in a different environment and felt judged by the other women I probably wouldn't but most ladies are friendly and respectful so I feel comfortable. - 2/28/2014   2:03:37 PM
  • 807
    I get changed in the locker room - it doesn't bother me if someone gets a glimpse of my naked self while I'm getting changed. I know my body isn't "perfect" but I don't care and I'm quite sure no one else in my locker room cares either. Do what you are comfortable with...I don't think it matters either way. What is it important is that you are working out! - 2/28/2014   12:58:54 PM
    I grew up playing sports and used the locker rooms in HS. As an adult in my early 40's, I NEVER change in the locker room. After the shower, I dry off and change in the little changing room attached to the shower that is hidden by a curtain. I know I shouldn't care, but I do not want anyone to see me change. - 2/28/2014   11:37:55 AM
  • 805
    I always changed in the bathroom of the locker room. I find that goes a little further for me though. I have started running outside and I find myself taking streets with little traffic so that no one I know sees me running. How crazy is that??? - 2/28/2014   10:23:59 AM
  • 804
    I used to be more shy about changing at the gym, but now I take a Zumba class right after work and if I took the time to wait for a stall to change in, I would be 10-20 minutes late to every class. I just decided that I'd rather be on time to class than worry about what other people think about my body.

    I still have days where I feel more uncomfortable than others, but it gets easier each time I do it. Sometimes there is an awkward moment, but life is full of awkward moments. - 2/26/2014   10:57:30 PM
  • 803
    I change in the bathroom in the locker rooms... but the only reason I'm getting undressed in a locker room is with my kids at the swimming pool and that's partly to contain my 5 year old son that wants to ask why everyone is naked in a not so quiet tone. lol gyms I've been to in the past have changing stalls. I remember going with my MIL to the gym before she was my MIL (like the 2nd or 3rd time I'd met her) and there she was stripping down, and I was like, see ya, I'm going in the changing room. lol I'm not sure what my deal is, since I have no problem breastfeeding in public (when I had breastfeeding babies) I think it's the sheer fact that I just didn't want to be completely naked around a bunch of strangers. lol
    - 2/26/2014   10:19:49 PM
  • 802
    Do what feels comfortable for you! For me, I'm totally comfortable with it and would enjoy a shower without a little one banging on the door ;) - 2/16/2014   12:56:08 PM
  • 801
    Do what feels comfortable for you! For me, I'm totally comfortable with it and would enjoy a shower without a little one banging on the door ;) - 2/16/2014   12:56:06 PM
    I'm like CATNCAG, when I was younger I was self conscious - but now that I'm older I don't really care if other people are judging me. I'm there for me, not to impress anyone. - 2/16/2014   11:17:11 AM
  • TERISA2015
    I will change everything except my panties. If I need to do that, I use a toilet stall. My gym has private showers. I haven't used those yet. - 2/6/2014   11:50:13 AM
  • 798
    I change in the locker room & take a shower after Water Zumba. This is a very big deal for me as I would not have even considered it when I was younger! I wasn't nearly as big than as I am now. I am 42 & maybe it's because I'm older & I don't care as much now as I used to about what others think of me because I know I'm doing something to be healthier so my body will look better! - 1/13/2014   5:20:20 PM
  • 797
    I change in the locker room. No problems for me the work out is most important and dropping weight is the goal. - 11/25/2013   4:40:09 PM
  • 796
    I have never been to a locker room - and probably never will...... ;) - 11/2/2013   9:12:43 AM
  • 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

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