Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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GGRSPARK 6/7/2020
This is a cultural thing, and gyms vary. At one where curtsinedvstalls were available , I used them as instructors got plenty of scrutiny. In our health club Ive seen women ho into shower stalls fully clothed and drape their things over the curtains. I face my locker, perl down snd towel up just takes practice. Very few parade around... The guys are never concerned, my husband reports. The general locker rooms could be different but you get what you pay for, and in my opinion, it’s a worth while cost to have more space , bigger showers, snd towels. The gym is a daily event after all. Report
ALASKINI 5/18/2020
Was always super self-conscious. A few years ago I freed up my mind and showered and changed with a group of women as old and fat as myself. Bliss. Then school started again, and young moms were leading little girls thru. A couple of them focused on me, the mom ignoring them. They scrutinized every part of my body and it fully triggered my self-consciousness. I went back one more time, and the same thing happened with other youngsters, AND the mom, who blatantly looked me up and down with distaste. Felt like an absolute freak. Haven’t gotten courage back since. Report
JESURMI 5/18/2020
What I mostly don't like with female locker rooms is they are cramped and uncomfortable. Report
SHAPE-UP 5/18/2020
I shower and put underwear on before I enter the locker room! Report
RO2BENT 4/6/2020
Older men don't seem to have that issue! Report
Can be an issue for some people. Report
EVILCECIL 3/5/2020
I understand. Report
I have used changing rooms, it didn't bother me. I was busy doing my thing and didn't pay attention to others. I am pretty sure they didn't care what I was doing either.
If we were meant to have clothes we'd come out of the womb with clothes or fur. Report
I am also modest. I don't like changing in front of others. Report
I don't see it as a body acceptance issue. It is the natural modesty that much of western society tries to stamp out of women in order to use them as objects for their own purposes. I live in a society where women are very modest and it is normal to dress/undress in the modest way that you describe from your school locker room. There are also some private changing rooms at pools and gyms here, though when there is a class there are a lot of women coming/going at the same time so those are harder to come by.

Don't be bullied by society into losing touch with the natural feeling that your body is private. Report
I think most guys aren’t as concerned Report
I think it is a big step in accepting your body and loving yourself, you are too busy getting changed before your workout or after to look at other people. For me it was a big leap in terms of accepting myself on every step of my journey. Everyone battles with self image, self love and I guess that's why we are all at the gym. Report
I don’t change in a locker room either Report
The only time I change at a gym is when I am using the swimming pool. If I am just working out I will just wear my workout clothes there and change when I get home. Report
I bring a change of clothes and change in a bathroom stall. Report
I've never really had trouble changing in locker rooms, I used to be more modest but after the military and having a kid I don't care anymore. I don't just let everything hang out, but I don't skulk around either. I'm guilty of carrying on a conversation while half-naked lol. Report
My view has nothing to do with whether I'm ashamed of someone's body condition. All about what is APPROPRIATE. And MY body is to be viewed by one person only, my husband. When we start dropping that standard, what on earth makes marriage such a unique relationship? not much. Report
I'm ambivalent about it. I always have at least my undies on and pretty much undress/dress 1/2 the body at a time. Others walk around bare and I just think no one wants to see that--fit or not. But what bothers me the most are the ones who walk around barefoot--so many fungal stuffs on those floors--no matter how often they are cleaned. Report
We change in the curtained areas; however it does not bother me if others choose to change in the locker room. Report
My gym has curtained stalls in the locker room for changing and most of the women do choose to change there. It would be great if more gyms built those into their locker rooms.
No need to be embarrassed that you don't like changing in the locker room. I'm not afraid to be bold enough to say that I find it disgusting for people to undress in front of each other. Not sure what group of people tried to make this feel normal, but it's so not me. I'm all for respecting each others' privacy, I don't care WHAT size or fitness someone is. Another major problem I have is when parents take showers with children. I would consider that on the edge of abusive. People have let down their standards too much in my opinion, which leaves NOTHING sacred anymore. (I suppose I'll get a lot of flak for this statement. That's okay. Those who give it simply come from a different culture than I do.) Report
No worries; I walked the Camino de Santiago a couple of summers ago. Nothing like dressing, undressing, and sleeping in a room with 49 of your new best friends, both male and female from age 16-90. Just avert your eyes if you don't like the view. Report
I hated getting changed for PE at school, but now don't care, so if I'm at a gym, I use the shower and change there - I hate being smelly for the drive home! Report
I grew up as a prudish American. Had to be ashamed of my body, and heaven forbit ANYONE should see me naked! Then I moved to the Netherlands and went to a sauna. There aren't different sex changing rooms and EVERYONE walkes around naked. And I realized, that we are all people, and we all have the same basic parts. Sure, we don't all look the same, but that is quite all right. So I have gotten over my "oh my God, what are they thinking of me naked" paranoia. Because, at the end of the day, I'm not in the locker room to be judged by people, I'm just changing my clothes. And who cares what they think anyway?! Report
Never do this! Report
No waaay in the world!!! Report
No way! Especially since the women's locker room is essentially "open" and anyone could walk in and out of there at any time. It also bothers me when women are sitting on the benches, naked, and chatting away on their phones! Are you kidding me? If I need to change, I'll use a toilet stall. Report
It would depend on the facility. At the moment, I work out at home so it's a moot point, but in general, if it is a gym that caters to ADULTS, I have no problem with it. However, one of the reasons I discontinued my YMCA membership many years ago is that so many women seemed to think it OK to bring young MALE children -- and I mean 5-6 year-olds, not infants -- into the locker room with them. I don't particularly like preschoolers as it is; I ESPECIALLY don't like being gawked at by them. Report
I am hesitant about undressing in a locker room because of the prevalence of cell phone cameras, but I still do it. I don't have time to hide myself in a bathroom stall; I have things to do. It helped when I did an indoor triathlon earlier this year. After the swim portion, the ladies were all hurriedly stripping out of wet swimsuits and putting on their biking and running clothes. No one cared.

I think getting a feel for your particular gym helps too. My home gym locker room feels more conservative, so I face the wall when I change my bra and such, but that's for others' comfort, not mine.

As far as locker rooms in school growing up? In middle school during swim season, the girls had to share showers, so there was no covering up. I don't remember how I felt about it. In high school, I took ROTC instead of gym. I'm glad I did that. About a year or two after I graduated the one male gym coach (small school) was arrested for repeatedly peeping on the girls' locker room. Report
These days I wouldn't take a chance on being photographed or videoed. There is no guarantee of privacy. I would not change in a public area. I use a stall. Report
I'm a modest person too. I don't change in front of other people. Report
i cant imagine shaming or intimidating another woman, but its certainly been done to me starting in Jr High, usually by kids (later women) who had great bodies. this continued for decades, until i joined a womens gym popular with lesbian and bi females. they did NOT put up with it, didnt dish it out, and were the BEST workout mates. unfortunately, that gym closed, we moved out of town, and the "moment" was broken. recently i stumbled on a group of older ladies (as i now am) at our area pool. all are silvers, all apple-shaped, most healthy. to finally be in the group that's "normal" is amazing. the only people who stare are the occasional youngster who wanders in, and they are arent allowed to keep staring or jeer, like in the bad old days. i can't be the only person who's experienced this crap, but i'm glad it's mostly on the wane. it's encumbant on us to speak up for ourselves and others, to not allow those days to return. Report
I am a year round swimmer and have to use the locker room mostly during the winter months. I joined a new gym in 2013 and felted immediately uncomfortable around all the nude, out of shape women. I was told it was my own issues so I continued showering and dressing after swim classes. I was much younger than the other women by 20/30 years. Therefore, my body type didn't match what I was seeing. What I didn't realize is that other women were intimidated by my body. I got attacked and gropped by another women gym
member. I Had to file charges and so forth. There is a silent code of ethics most of the time in locker rooms but not everyone follows a good moral compass. After a long absence,I returned to the same locker room but now I am more cautious and use the bathroom for changing. I am not modest but I have realized that the locker rooms scene isn't just about how I feel it is also about how others feel as well. If we do our best to set the record straight with the other women's inappropriate comments and questions that is a tell-tell sign that we are a target for more than just words. Reporting to the gym's staff can help but ultimately it is best to change our routine to break the cycle. Not to give our power away but to safe guard ourselves from other women's insecurities that can lead to physical attack. For all of us that are uncomfortable undressing in a semi-public environment, maybe it is are own self preservation that is helping us. Locker rooms make us completely exposed without surveillance cameras and we never know what another person is really thinking. It's unfortunate that the code of ethics are not always enforced and the golden rule can get thrown out the window. I continue to take aqua aerobics classes but I now where swim leggings and a rash guard jacket. Since I learned that my body type was such a issue with other women, I cover up and feel less exposed. I do my part, although the comments and questions still happen. Sometimes life presents the other side of the coin but confidence means being whole not perfect. I now choose the masculine role of being very unpleasant towards others breach of conduct. That works like a charm. Report
A body is a body is a body. I've never been the least bit self conscious of stripping down to the buff - and take it further to the hot tubs and sauna - I'll lay on a towel but wear a bathing suit - why. I'd even be comfortable in a co ed facility - in fact there were a couple of spas in SantaFe that had community hot tubs (cheaper than private which they had too) and suits weren't allowed. It has nothing to do with being "modest" - it has to do with how you are raised and what you come to believe. In Utah, professed LDS church members wear their garments in the hot tub although most have no problem with others being naked. Their religious belief forbids it. That's fine. Otherwise I find it hard to believe anyone who has had a baby or been a patient in a good teaching hospital would ever feel odd. One thing it does make me aware of is how with age my body has changed - I'm 3" shorter but just 10 pounds heavier than I was in college - and now I'm pear shaped where before I was considered athletic. Report
I am still and always will be very modest. I never change in front of anyone including my husband. Don't judge me please, I really am a prude although I have very happily had 5 babies.....without undressing in front of hubby. No matter when I am slim or overweight, I have always been modest to the extreme. Report
Nope, I always use the 1 stall to change in.
Even when I was young and slim, I didn't
like to be exposed. I shower at home and
leave my pool shoes on at all times. Report
I am really uncomfortable about changing in the locker room and as long as I can remember always have been. I go to a pool and sometimes in the change room women are absolutely stark naked and just walking around. I actually shower with my bathers on and change in the toilet stall.
I have a friend who will answer the door in just a towel and once away from the door remove the towel and carry on quite normally. She is so confident about her body and she has had a mastectomy. 10 points to her but no I just could never do that and I don't feel comfortable when others do. I also hate going for PAP smears and breast exams even with female medical staff. Report
I have been an athlete since the age of four and I actually have never thought about not changing clothes in the womens locker rooms. I never felt any inhibition, I guess I am so used to it. Now I am 58 years old, still an athlete, not so slim anymore and frankly I don't give a rats behind what people think about my body. I am from Europe and I guess we are more free over there with nudity. Living in America for around 20 years now, I find that women are more reserved with showing their bodies. For me, it's just a body, and each one has something beautiful going for it, slim or fat. Report
Not since I gained all of this weight. I don't need a dozen women pointing and giggling at me. :D Report
I try never to change in the open in the gym locker room. There are so many women way more fit than I who spend their time admiring THEIR bodies in the mirror from many angles that it makes me self-conscious. Report
When I go to the pool for physio, I always change in one of the little changing cubbies with a door. I can't undress in front of strangers. After the day a little boy shouted "look at her bum" with him mom as an undressed woman walked by them, I almost vomited at the thought that it could have been me he shouted about.
I also suffer from almost soul-crushing social anxiety. Report
I would not ever change in front of others. I do not look at myself naked at home either. I have terrible body acceptance issues, and my thought is always, if I can't stand to look at this body, why on earth would anyone else want to? Granted, I weigh 50 lbs more than I used to, but I wouldn't have done it then either. I applaud all the women out there who seem so accepting of themselves. Congrats to you! Everyone just needs to do what they are comfortable with. However, I do have to say to the people who do the locker room scenes on tv, Yeah, right! Report
I go to the "Y" and change in the women's locker room all the time. I'm a bit on the thin side. I'm also 64 years old. As the article mentioned, women talk to each other and walk around in various stages of undress. They don't seem uncomfortable or judgmental. I quickly undress and dress and go about my business. There are 3 private changing rooms in the locker room. I'm never seen anyone use them. Hold your head high and be confident. We all have the same parts. Report
I've been obese, and fielded the resultant "teasing," since Kindergarten. At 56 yrs old, that's a lot of programming to overcome. Several years ago, I briefly attended a wonderful, all-women's gym, heavily favored by a group of fitness-focused ladies, most of whom preferred the company of other females. It was WONDERFUL. I never felt any inhibition. The gym closed after only a few months, and I've never felt so comfortable anywhere since. I've just begun pool aerobics with a group of ladies even larger and older than myself, yet I'm still having trouble dealing with my body in the changing room. Usually, I retreat to a toilet stall or handicap shower, or dry off enough to pull on gym pants and tee. One of many issues I'd love to conquer! Report
You surprise me as you are so slim and in such good shape that I thought you'd be at ease. That teaches us not to generalize. I'm your mom's generation, maybe even older, depending on your mom's age, but I was never comfortable changing in a locker room and haven't changed with years. This teaches me a lesson--not to prejudge the younger generation. BTW, love your chair exercise videos---the other ones, too but the chair ones help me more. Report
I think you have to go with what is comfortable for you, but that said, I was shy when younger (it really bothered me) but got over it as I got older. I think the benefit of that was realizing that I could get past what "others" might think of me, and of accepting my body as "mine" and no one else's business. It was a better attitude for me and liberating to realize it's a cultural hangup. All I worry about in locker rooms is my feet and catching athlete's foot or the like! Report
As I go early in the morning to the gym, it is more convenient for me to go back home to shower, fix breakfast, and get ready than it is to do it in the locker room. Report
I am not a locker room person either. I was always VERY uncomfortable with it while growing up -- just modest, I guess. Report
I am quite comfortable in the locker room--but I'm also your mother's generation! Report
I never took showers after gym class, but I've never been super shy about my body. Then I went through Basic Training and had group showers and no privacy at all so now I don't even think about it. I shower at the gym and I walk from the stall where I put my stuff to the shower naked but then I have my towel on walking to my locker, where I get dressed. It's so nice to take a shower without having someone else in the house wanting the bathroom. Report