Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/19/2013 12:00 PM   :  820 comments   :  156,392 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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  • 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
  • 754
    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
  • LINDAM.1
    I change quickly usually no one in the locker room we are there late, I will turn away if someone is there. - 4/21/2013   8:16:31 PM
  • 744
    Certain young people, many from certain Eastern European/Middle Asian nationalities, would present themselves in the locker room, free of inhibition. Must be a cultural thing. Usually they had aesthetically-pleasing bodies. My mid-scale gym was full of them. I felt quite the odd person out, wrapped in a beach towel (barrel-chested--I weigh a lot less than I look!) ... no matter how low my weight at any time.

    Um, I haven't been to a full service, locker room style gym in 5 years. Certainly saw everything: including plastic surgery scars (they could afford real medical talent, some of them.) I am not trying to be facetious here ... - 4/21/2013   5:43:57 PM
  • 743
    I change at the locker room and don't feel too weird about it. I attempt some modesty - If I've just gotten out of the shower I wrap myself in my towel and things like that. But I don't worry too much about it, especially now that I swim and have to get out of my swimsuit in the locker room. - 4/21/2013   5:39:43 PM
  • 742
    When I was in my 20's I never had a second thought about it now I probably wouldn't unless I really had to, but then again I don't workout at a gym any more either. My daughter who is 16 is exactly how you describe, one bra goes on over and then she pulls the other bra out, I have to say that I'm amazed at how she does this. She even does this when my 9 year old daughter and I are around, she gets upset but I ask her why we all have the same parts and she gives me a disgusted look. She wasn't raised that way but I guess I'm okay with it becasue this is the way she is....

    Have a great day!

    Kelly - 4/21/2013   5:30:34 PM
  • 741
    I really don't have a problem with changing in the locker room; nobody's there to look at me, after all, and I'm pretty sure that the others there aren't paying attention to anything but getting themselves changed. And I'd much rather feel clean than sweaty. That being said, I tend to get in, shower, change and get out as fast as possible. (I do think it's a generational thing; I'm in my 50s, and my friends who are in their 60s and 70s seem to think even less of it than I do.) - 4/21/2013   3:53:56 PM
  • 740
    I agree. I don't use public showers or changing rooms. I don't appreciate those that do flaunting their nude bodies. Although I do think it must be great to be so very comfortable in your own skin that you really do not care who sees your wholly naked body. - 4/21/2013   3:23:51 PM
  • 739
    That is probably the reason why I don't go to gyms. I do not enjoy dressing publicly... Never mind the showers. If I have to public showers, I wear my flip-flops because I'm so afraid of foot disease germs that may linger. - 4/21/2013   2:21:11 PM
  • 738
    I could have written this entire blog! For gym class, the locker rooms were just like you're describing your school locker room, and I am the same way about changing or showering at the gym... - 4/21/2013   1:42:00 PM
  • 737
    I feel exactly like you people silently judge and sometimes you can read their seems to say how did you get that big?.....when I was thin for many years I remember the things people said to me about other fact people they saw or heard about or what they thought about fat people or gaining weight in general....can't seem to get those comments out of my head.

    Just to give you an example of how your feelings are not unfounded.....I was thin all my life after a few major traumas in my life I gained about 20 lbs went to a funeral and when I went in a greeted everyone my uncle seeing me (someone who I knew all my life and was supposed to love me for me) jokingly said keep you coat Not at all funny to me and now I am so high on the scale I dare not even go around some of the family sad but its a fact my own mother is so upset with me...go figure?

    Anyway I undress and dress in the bathroom stalls or dressing room and maybe someday that won't be but until then it is what it is.

    Good Luck. - 4/21/2013   12:46:08 PM
  • 736
    I have no issues changing at the gym. As someone else mentioned, I am also a size 2 and have a little loose skin but I am also 55 years old so .... I would have flab if I was still 180 as I do now. If someone else doesn't want to see other women naked then stay home is all I gotta say. - 4/21/2013   12:24:23 PM
  • 735
    Long before this blogI appeared I have been thinking about this in relation to our own pool and have been a little sad that so many women do not feel comfortable changing in front of other females. Don't hate me but I think it is a reflection of our society that we have to be so concerned with how we look and what others will think. The comment about modesty is interesting. I would not consider it immodest to simply change or even to dry my hair naked. I would just call that being comfortable in my own skin in front of other females. In a family changeroom (where men are present) of course this changes the perspective, and it SHOULD, modesty would come into play.
    I think going into a cubicle in some cases reflects a lot more than just being a little embarrassed to be seen naked. Much of it may be that our society is quite focused on our society has elevated the female body to 'goddess' or 'something to be worshipped' status and if we don't measure up or feel we don't measure up than we feel inferior to other females. In some ways this shows the loss of the intrinsic beauty and dignity of who we are as women. Hence the reason I feel a bit sad when I see the cubicles in full use at our pool.
    - 4/21/2013   11:50:54 AM
  • 734
    We have a temporary pool while ours is being demolished and rebuilt..the showers are combined with no walls in between... I guess I am a bit modest but I still want to go swimming... I wear my bathing suit there for getting into the pool quicker from the locker room... then I leave my bathing suit on until all the conditioner is cleaned out of my hair.. so that I don't get out before my hair is well rinsed... I did this when the showers had walls too. - 4/21/2013   10:27:39 AM
  • 733
    I loathe the situation and will only workout if I can change or at minimum shower in private. We did have to undress and shower at school when I was a kid but I was always so uncomfortable with it I just took the extra time to drive home--I was lucky and lived close by. I have nothing against those who do it--it's just not for me. - 4/21/2013   9:56:04 AM
    I never liked the locker room. We had to shower especially after swimming and I usually tried to either be first and out of there or last and almost late to next class. Now I change in the handicap stall of the bathroom. Just getting older and don't care to dress in front of anyone. - 4/21/2013   8:55:15 AM
  • 731
    Took an aqua fit class and was so amazed at the beginning how many of the women - and these were older gals - just stripped down without a thought/care. Not me. I learned how to hold my towel in front of me with my chin or teeth or one hand. Didn't like it when I was in school either - yep I'm the generation that took showers in gym class. They don't do that anymore? - 4/21/2013   8:34:40 AM
  • 730
    Totally agree, not a fan of chatting with naked women. - 4/21/2013   7:08:40 AM
  • 729
    If I was TOTALLY proud of my body, I would have no problem changing there. But I only like how I look with clothes on - and I'm a size 2. Loose skin doesn't show even under my form-fitting clothes. It's not about modesty, it's about liking how I look. - 4/21/2013   5:53:52 AM
    I agree with you. I don't like to be naked in front of people I don't know and it's shocking (still) for me to see some women walking or drying their hair naked like if they were alone. - 4/21/2013   4:43:22 AM
  • 727
    I'm with you, I could never change in front of a bunch of people. I either change in the bathroom at work just prior to leaving or I change in the bathroom at the gym. - 4/21/2013   12:48:12 AM
  • 726
    I figure that I can't show you anything you haven't already seen, so I'm comfortable being naked or half-naked - but I'm probably old enough to be your mother, so that might explain it! - 4/21/2013   12:41:06 AM
  • 725
    Don't know why it is, but I don't feel comfortable dressing/undressing in front of people esp. ones I don't know. I have never and will never be comfortable doing this. - 4/20/2013   11:26:08 PM
  • 724
    I think modesty has everything to do with it. I shared a room growing up with me sister and we never got bare when each onther was in the room. It just was not done. I dont feel comfortable changing with strangers. In this day and age, I would like to keep some things private and personal. - 4/20/2013   10:44:08 PM
  • 723
    I think not wanting to change on front of others has less to do with embarrassment and more to do with modesty. I've never been comfortable with exposing myself in front of anyone. - 4/20/2013   10:32:12 PM
  • 722
    No issues in the mens locker room at my local YMCA. Must be a "girl" thing...:-) - 4/20/2013   10:17:33 PM
  • 721
    I change in the locker room at the gym, but I'm in and out quickly. I don't enjoy it, but I don't let it interfere with what I need to do. I shower in the locker room in the gym (at work) almost every morning after my bike ride to work. Most of the time, the crowd is either leaving or has just left when I arrive, and I have the whole place (small as it is) to myself. I'm a little self-conscious because I have a mastectomy scar, but I've never caught anyone staring, and as I said, I figure it's just one of those things I have to persevere through if I want to achieve my goals. - 4/20/2013   9:54:12 PM

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