Let's Just Call It My British Reserve

One of the things I'm trying to work on getting over is my fear of changing in front of other people. Changing clothes, I should clarify. I mean, I'm sure you knew that's what I meant anyway, but now I'm getting a small kick out of the fact that one or two of you perhaps imagined, for a split second, that I was anxious about changing, say, my menu order or my hair color with others present, which sounds like a very severe and specific medical disorder that I most certainly do not have.

What I do have is a phobia of getting dressed and undressed in communal locker rooms. Or even non-communal regular rooms that are occupied by anyone other than the person I'm married to. It's weird, I know. You would think, having spent seven years at an all-girls boarding school—six of which involved sharing a dormitory with up to ten other people at a time—that I would be an old hand at public nudity. Wait, that came out not at all the way I meant it to. Let me rephrase.

You would think that I'd be an old hand at getting changed and unchanged in front of other people, is what I meant to say, but you would be very, very wrong. Instead, in seven years of sharing close quarters with a large group of other adolescent girls, all I learned was a really kickass method of taking off and putting on my bra under my clothes.

(I mean, it's not all I learned. I could probably win trivia night if the special subject was the mid-nineties oeuvre of Joey Lawrence, and I bet I could give seminars on the best ways to trick other people into thinking you're not moving your hand on the ouija board, but the bra thing is a pretty special skill all the same. I'd put it on my resume if I didn't think it might give people the wrong idea about the kind of position I was applying for.) 

Recently, I've started going to the gym most nights after work. This is less a gung-ho effort to be healthy and more a resigned solution for killing the hour between the point at which my brain is fried for the day and the point at which Sean picks me up from his office so that we can drive home. Isn't that the best reason you've ever heard for going to the gym? Eh, I had an hour to kill? Totally what Jillian Michaels preaches, I'm sure. But since I now work at a place where the exercise facility is a) free and b) a very short walk across a parking lot, I have immediately exhausted both of my usual reasons for avoiding it, and so I go. Also they have the good kind of Clif bars in there. 

As part of some weird personal development plan that only I am privy to, I've been trying to encourage myself to change from my work clothes into my gym clothes in the big open locker room, instead of in the ladies' toilets. I am far more comfortable changing in the ladies' toilets, of course, but I have been trying to force myself to Be An Adult about it and just get changed out in the open like everybody else. I mean, really, what is going to happen if that project manager I was just sitting next to in a meeting sees me wriggling out of my skinny jeans?

(No-one should ever see you wriggling out of your skinny jeans, or at least no-one should ever see me wriggling out of my skinny jeans.  More to the point, no-one should ever see me wriggling into my skinny jeans, because there is often a lot of jumping and striding going on. I'm going to go ahead and hope that this means I'm doing my skinny jeans right.) 

Most days I leave the gym, get into the car, and take a shower once I get home, but yesterday I was having drinks in the city with Claire—who, side note, is sort of awkwardly my new favorite person ever; awkward because I'm wondering if it was too forward of me to offer her the BE FRI half of my friendship necklace upon our first meeting, so that I could wear the other half reading ST ENDS—and so I decided I would do my workout and then shower at the gym. 

And after I showered at the gym, I would change at the gym. Out in the open. In the locker room.

I thought about this all day, trying to pysche myself up for it. It's totally not a big deal, I told myself, and I almost believed it about 98% of the way, but then I would remember the adrenaline-fueled terror you get when the massage therapist leaves you alone in a tiny room to take off your clothes and you immediately go into panic mode trying to undress and get under the covers before she knocks three seconds later and walks in before you're finished—WHICH TOTALLY HAPPENED TO MY SISTER, BY THE WAY—and I would decide that eh, you know what, the ladies' toilets actually sounded pretty good after all.

Friends, I made it part of the way. I showered, wrapped myself in a towel, and padded out to the locker room. I got my clothes out, started putting everything out on the bench in the order I'd want to put it on, and then realized that I couldn't find my underwear. 

You know that dream? The one where you walk into a classroom at school and realize you haven't studied for that chemistry exam? And also all your teeth are falling out? And also you're naked? This is what it feels like to be wrapped in nothing but a towel in a communal locker room at work while searching, panic-stricken, for your skivvies. Vulnerable, I think they call it. Also, totally freaking out. 

I found them in the end—I mean really, where did I think they could they have gone?—but the experience was harrowing enough to send me straight back into an unoccupied shower cubicle to change there. Oh well, better luck next time, Victorian Sensibility Holly! Maybe tomorrow I can reveal an ankle or something and just build up from there. 

Do you have the same misgivings about changing in public, or am I alone in this particularly puritan peccadillo? (I rather suspect I am alone in it.) 

 

1
findingmagnolia
Mar 22, 2012

You are not alone! Also, I would find it much harder to change knowing that someone I know is in the room. I totally understand why you'd change in the shower stall rather than bare everything in front of someone from work!

I don't go to the gym anymore, but when I did I had finally graduated from changing entirely in the shower stall to only putting bra and undies on in the shower stall, then wrapping my somewhat damp towel around me to go back to where my things were, at which point I'd drop the towel and dress as quickly as possible whilst facing the wall and pretending that A) I was alone, and/or B) that it's just like being in a bikini in front of other people.

I'm not British, so I don't know what I'd call my modesty problem. I have no good excuse.

2
Miriam
Mar 22, 2012

Oh yes. I have done all manner of awkward "trying to dress hunched over with a towel draped over your back to cover your behind and befront". (Seems like it should be a word.) You are not alone, sister.

3
Linda
Mar 22, 2012

I live in France. I found out how deep that puritanical streak goes in me. My first chest xray was traumatic to me-no robe-and the visit to the ob-gyn was very strange. They just don't cover you up and don't think a thing about it. Gym locker rooms are full of naked women. Not me. I change at home.

4
Jane
Mar 23, 2012

Absolutely you're not alone. I cringe when I think back to my school days having to change in front of others for PE (stands for physical education in Aus). Or when you had to go away on camp and the shower stalls had no doors - I mean is that allowed these days?!! I always imagined people snickering at me and I've never forgotten the sheer dread. I'm still the same.

5
Fi
Mar 23, 2012

I agree 100%. I found wedding dress shopping traumatising for this very reason.

I am also British. It's just not cricket to be naked in front of strangers!

I've never used that phrase before in my life but I may have to more in future....

6
Bellie
Mar 23, 2012

Yes, yes, YES- I'm exactly the same!

My phobia even extends to the dressing rooms with the pull across "curtain" type doors. I always think people will walk in accidentally mid-outfit change, for the entire shop to see. I often leave a shoe or handbag obviously sticking out from underneath to try and deter people!

7
Linsey
Mar 23, 2012

I don't mind the changing part if you do it quickly and get it over with. communal showers, no thanks. But it's the women who think it's cool to wander around naked, reach over you to get to their locker NAKED, dry their hair topless that really put me off. No-one needs to parade it about. Maybe I go to a weird gym.

8
Tammi
Mar 23, 2012

Yes, I would NEVER change in public

9
Isobel_A
Mar 23, 2012

No, would never EVER change in public! And don't even get me started on gyms with communal showers...what are we, in prison or something?

10
Amanda Blog and Kiss
Mar 23, 2012

Nope, not with you on this one, Holly. While not quite the exhibitionist that my husband claims I am (because I get dressed without closing the curtains in our third floor apartment bedroom window), I don't feel weird about changing in communal locker rooms. HOWEVER, one rule: undies on before towel off. Easy peasy.

11
Christine H
Mar 23, 2012

I don't change in public. Luckily both gyms that I go to have "changing rooms" as either part of the showers or across from them. I work out a lot at school and firmly believe that a student should never see their professor in any stage of undress. But we do have the few profs who like to push boundaries or are all about girl power or whatever and strut (because they always strut) around naked.

12
Nina
Mar 23, 2012

Phobias, I have a few although being naked or semi-naked in front of others is not one of them. (Although hit me up if you share a terror of rats and mice).

I'm not sure whether it's the growing up in Eastern Europe or my general lack of shame (when I decided to stop having issues with my weight, I guess I generally stopped having body-seen-by-others issues).

Although having said that I'm not sure I'd relish changing with my co-workers because it is more intimate than seeing strangers naked.

13
Christina
Mar 23, 2012

Oh my gosh, yes, I have this problem. In high school, my friend and I would both wear our gym uniforms under our regular uniforms in order to avoid the horror of other girls seeing us in sports bras. Too terrible to imagine. Then I started going to the gym on campus (where I teach/am a grad student) last year, and I developed a huge phobia of changing. The creepiness of a student seeing me change is more than I can handle. I'm totally with Christine H up there in the comments.

14
kerry
Mar 23, 2012

I agree with Nina, the whole coworker thing adds an extra layer of awkward to it. Do you converse while changing or pretend you're alone? *Can* you carry on a conversation with a naked coworker over the whole "maintain eye contact" mantra going on in your head while someone's stripping down and complaining about what a bummer that meeting was? I think I would struggle with that one, although in general I'm more of a naked, schmaked type person at this point. I had a whole experience in a Chilean spa which was pretty much the pinnacle of awkward semi-public nakedness (thankfully it was all women) so that helped in resolving a lot of my issues, because that most embarrassed feeling you can ever imagine? It happened, and I survived. And I travel a fair bit and I just found being uptight about getting naked was becoming a drag. So I don't love it and I definitely feel weird but I just pretend I'm someone who doesn't and then I go for it. After carefully laying out my clothes so that I can get into them as fast as possible while looking nonchalant.

Also, if you ever spend any time in Iceland and are uptight about being naked in front of people, then do yourself a favor and skip the neighborhood pools. Not only do you have to shower naked and communally (prison style for sure), but there is a shower monitor there who makes sure everyone washes everything thoroughly. And if you don't do a good enough job she does not tell you quietly or privately, which turns out to be even more embarrassing than spending another 2 minutes naked with a bunch of strangers while getting properly clean.

15
Katherine
Mar 23, 2012

I have to agree with you on this one. I can change in a locker room if I absolutely have to but I'll hate it the entire time. And your poor sister! I don't think I could relax during the massage after that.

16
Danielle
Mar 23, 2012

You're not alone.

I've never been comfortable changing around other people, even if I'm among friends. These friends of mine don't seem to have the same hang-ups though, and then that makes me feel weird for being uncomfortable.

Also, my husband makes fun of me because I won't even change in a room if the curtains aren't closed. I just don't want to be that neighbor.

17
Anna Louisa
Mar 23, 2012

Haha...I'm totally with you on this one! And I've been in sports my whole life, where the rest of the team is completely comfortable being naked in the locker room. I'd be in the corner trying to do the awkward hop/dance required to put your clothes on under your tiny towel :)

http://anna-gemutlichkeit.blogspot.com/

18
Steph
Mar 23, 2012

Oh Holly! I am thinking that the WORK gym is not the place to try and break this phobia! No, no, no! Feel free to show yourself some mercy and just let this one be, at least until you go to a non-work gym! :)

Also can we discuss the people that use the hair dryer to dry their...I don't know how to say this, their nether hair?! It totally happens at gyms! Eek!

19
Leslie
Mar 23, 2012

I just read an article about this yesterday!

http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/20/10763064-why-wom...

I have always felt weird about changing in public. When I moved from my private elementary school to a public middle school, my biggest, BIGGEST fear was changing in the locker room/having to shower in front of others.

I'm still amazed by the women at my Y who parade around naked. I've asked my boyfriend if this happens in men's locker rooms, and he tells me that it really doesn't except for the occasional guy who is trying to, um, show off.

Thank goodness I'm not the only one out there feeling odd about the locker room nakedness. You've made me feel so much better!

20
Erin
Mar 23, 2012

I'm one who tries to hurry up the process and do the awkward shirt-still-on-while-changing-bras routine.

What really gets me is the women who prance around the locker room naked without a care in the world. My former gym was near my workplace, so I would often run into coworkers there (fortunately, out by the ellipticals and treadmills, where we were all fully clothed). But then, one day, as I was leaving the locker room to start my workout, my eyes fell upon a coworker who was butt. naked. I still can't pass her in the halls without that picture coming to mind. Traumatizing!

21
bessie.viola
Mar 23, 2012

Uh, no, you're not alone. I am not down with that. I'd thought that maybe childbirth would cure me of my aversion, but as it happened I had a c-section so the drape went up and it was all very detached. I was able to pretend that none of them had seen a thing, despite the fact that they SO saw EVERYTHING. Lalalala!

Team Change In A Stall over here!!

22
Rebecca
Mar 23, 2012

My much younger and thinner cousins and I attend the same fairly large gym. Everytime I am changing at lightning fast speed, towel draped dangerously over my back, I picture them coming in and spotting me. I force myself to do it. I then pretend it is perfectly normal to be pulling each pant leg up as high as possible to put lotion on after getting dressed.

23
Terri
Mar 23, 2012

My gym has a handicapped restroom with a shower and I totally wimp out and take a shower and change in there. I feel guilty about using it and shower and change at warp speed to get in and out but I can't do the communal thing ... all those other women who not only change out in the open but stand in front of the mirror stark naked to dry their hair, etc., really freaks me out.

24
Jan Ross
Mar 23, 2012

Huh. I'm AMAZED at the number of people who are with you on this one. I don't know if it's being in a sorority when I was in college or naturally being pretty casual about it, but it doesn't bother me at all. I'm not one of those that strut around naked or dry my hair topless but I will casually dress and undress in the locker room at the Y. I actually went topless on the beach in Punta Cana a few years ago - I guess that says it all!

25
jen
Mar 23, 2012

I haven't worked out in a gym in years, so I no longer have this problem. But when I did, I was always either changing at work before I left or changing in the shower stall. And never showered there. I'm not into public changing either!

26
Lindsey
Mar 23, 2012

I'm pretty OK with it at home (I live with three roommates/best friends) unless it reaches taking-off-undergarments level, and then I do it speedy-gonzales like in case someone walks in without knocking (not unheard of; in fact, rather heard of in our household.) Not only do I change in the bathroom stall in the locker room at the gym, but I have been SCARRED by the senior ladies' water aerobics class at 7:30 a.m. I'm talking leave-the-rec-center-call-my-BFF-to-lament, "I HAVE TO TELL YOU WHAT I JUST SAW OHMYGOSH" scarred. Bathroom stalls foreva, thank you very much.

27
Kristen
Mar 23, 2012

I don't have too much of a problem with it, unless I get, umm, tangled, shall we say? With things peeking out? Do you know what I mean? Then I turn ALL the shades of red and die. I mean, I'm pretty good at putting underwear on, normally, but I guess I get flustered in the gym, and I'm normally not COMPLETELY dry, and, well, it's a challenge. So bottom line: I can mostly do it, but it's far from my favorite thing.

28
Chris C.
Mar 23, 2012

I'm afraid I'm not with you on this one. If nothing else, locker rooms in California got me over any remaining weirdness about changing in front of people. In my experience, people here are FAR more blase about nudity than anywhere else I've lived. Ladies totally wander around the locker rooms and have entire conversations naked, rather than getting undressed and re-dressed with intent. And people here are far less Barbie-like , um, groomed in normally-not-visible areas than, say, in Washington DC, so I feel less self-conscious about my own lack of perfection :-)

29
Erika
Mar 23, 2012

You are not alone. I change in the cubicles at my gym. I hate the fact that some women walk around totally naked in the common areas of the locker room. I can handle seeing strangers in their underwear but totally naked is too much!

30
Susan
Mar 23, 2012

I am totally the same way. Back in the day when I worked in the office, I belonged to a gym that a lot of my co-workers also belonged to, and I just couldn't fathom being seen (or seeing them) naked. Luckily the showers were fairly large so I could just undress/shower/redress in there. Nowadays, I work from home, and the gym is just a short walk away, so I can skip all of that drama.

And, I totally hear you on the whole undress-as-quickly-as-possible-before-the- massage-therapist-comes-back-in thing. Must-cover-self-with-sheet, STAT! : )

31
Marisa
Mar 23, 2012

In sixth grade (I would have been 11 or 12), we had to endure "Outdoor School" as part of our curriculum. It was like summer camp, but for just a week with all our classmates. There were 6 of us girls to a cabin, and I think we were allowed one shower during that week. Even though the shower was in a closed-off room, I was still dreading the idea of being naked in that cabin.

I made it through the shower fine. Climbed out only to realize I forgot to bring in my towel. I was absolutely not yelling for someone to bring my towel to my wet, naked, preteen self, so I dried off with my pre-shower turtleneck.

Definitely one of my worst communal nudity memories. I stick to the stalls with doors/curtains and take EVERYTHING with me.

Oh, AND, last summer I was helping my kids dress after swimming lessons and another woman was talking to me while changing. She stood there for what seemed like an hour, chatting away, completely topless. I was totally uncomfortable, and simultaneously totally embarrassed that I wasn't mature enough to speak with a topless stranger. Oy.

32
Novice Wife
Mar 23, 2012

Avoiding seeing work people naked and avoiding them seeing me naked is the #1 reason I don't use our work gym. Seriously. Team Change in the Stall right here.

33
Pickles & Dimes
Mar 23, 2012

I'm OK with changing in front of other people in the gym locker room, although I try to turn away and change as quickly as possible (especially if I'm changing in front of people I know).

Although I once went into a clothing store in a mall, and there were no dressing rooms. Let me repeat: NO DRESSING ROOMS. Everyone was just herded into one giant room to change en masse. (Word was that it cut down on shoplifting. Also? Self-esteem, I assume.) I walked in with my armful of clothing, took one look around and left.

OH! There's also a fancyish restaurant in Minneapolis that doesn't have doors on the bathroom stalls. I walked in there once and must've stared at that doorless space for a minute straight, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. ("Did someone...steal...the doors?") I ended up doing a quick 180 and bolting from there, too.

34
Sioux
Mar 23, 2012

Don't take this the wrong way, but this glimpse into this particular kind of quirk makes me feel good on a day where my self-consciousness and shyness seems to be getting the better of me. I may not be able to approach the girl in the coffee shop whose name I know and whose boyfriend I have met, or call the friend of a friend whose city I'll be in soon, or answer a call from an unknown number (or listen to the message), but I can sure as hell get naked in a room with strangers.

I do remember being horrified at the prospect of changing in public as a young ballet dancer. All the professionals would come downstairs into the dressing and strip down all willy nilly, tampons string and all. Horrifying, really, to an 11-year-old. I think Bikram yoga changed me. I mean, you're practically naked with a room of sweating strangers anyway, taking off the bikini top isn't such a hard step after that!

35
Sulli
Mar 23, 2012

There is a woman at my old gym who would blow dry her hair completely topless. No bra or anything. And sometimes I'd catch myself thinking "oh to be careless and free" but most of the time I just felt uncomfortable. I mean, what is the purpose of that? I'm basically shriveled up in a corner and she's parading around, flipping over to dry her hair, etc. Good gracious.

Also have you ever encountered a communal dressing rooms? Like in a Hollister? (not that I've frequented Hollister in 10 years at least, but that is the first place that comes to mind.) You're trying on clothes that may or may not look good or fit. And you are forced to go through the process in a group setting. Not a positive experience.

36
Sioux
Mar 23, 2012

Actually I guess the fact that it's a WORK gym makes it totally different. That's like 6th grade gym class ALL over again, when changing shirts was the worst thing I did everyday, because I didn't wear a bra yet.

I hope I didn't make you feel bad or ashamed in that last post...not my intent!

37
Tamara
Mar 23, 2012

This was a huge concern for me when I moved to Los Angeles, home of the well toned ass and perfectly fake breasts. But after continually being surrounded by only crazy not that toned super comfortable in their nakedness old Asian ladies (Koreatown gym, whutwhut!) I VERY quickly got over it. Turns out the well toned fake breasted ladies don't go to the gym. They're just "naturally skinny" *cough*SPEEDFREAKSWHOEATONLYCIGARETTES*cough*

38
Molly
Mar 23, 2012

I was a "life drawing" class model in my 20's (extra cash, always needed) and my Mother was an Artist so I remember coming home from school in the 60's and 70's and there would be a totally naked model sitting on the kitchen floor with my Mother drawing her! I do have to say that my Mother was great in letting all of her five daughters know that our bodies were beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of which totally helped with self esteem.
With that being said I do have to say as I have become older I am definitely a little more self conscious and at the gym I am a "speed" dresser fo sho.
(and the reason for that is because of Lindsey's remark above!)

39
rebecca
Mar 23, 2012

I'm not bothered by changing at my gym, but that's probably because everyone there is a stranger. Not sure how comfortable I'd be changing in front of my coworkers!

If your issue is nudity in general (even in front of strangers), I recommend going to a nude beach or getting a brazilian wax. I just had my first one, and let me tell you, I never thought my nail lady and I would know each other quite so well.

40

I am EXACTLY the same way. I recently went to Nordstrom for a bra fitting, and I was HORRIFIED by changing bras in front of the sales lady. And, to make matters worse, we had to do it, like, seventeen times. By the end of it, I needed a cocktail.

41
Sarah
Mar 23, 2012

I don't mind locker rooms, unless there's a chance that I'd see people I work with in there. In fact, a really good friend of mine paid $100+ per month to join a gym, despite that fact her company would pay - entirely - for a membership at a much fancier gym in her building.

You can put a price on that fear. :)

42
Kim
Mar 23, 2012

I am not with you on this one EXCEPT the fact that the gym is at your place of work!! I am actually quite immodest but I have zero interest in seeing colleagues in the buff or vice versa. The horror!! Totally understandable.

43
Lucy
Mar 23, 2012

Ok here is my public nudity nightmare. My husband and I were staying in a hotel in a National Park. As I exited the bathroom completely NAKED to get dressed after my shower I felt a draft. I look over and see the outside door is ajar and swinging open, as a family with children are walking by! Instead of stepping back into the bathroom I completely panic and try to make a run for it! Since I haven't yet put my contacts in and can't see very well I cut the corner too sharply and bounce off the wall. I fall down and ricochet off the bar fridge. At this point I'm crab crawling naked to get out of view! I ended up with a huge bruise on my arm and rug burn on both my knees. I don't those kids will ever forget that sight! I should mention my husband couldn't see the open door, all he saw was me explode around the corner. He thought I had completely lost it!

44
Claire Bidwell Smith
Mar 23, 2012

Just for the record, I would have accepted half of that friendship necklace even if you HADN'T showered.

45
kathy
Mar 23, 2012

i don't change at the gym. not even after swimming. i just put on sweats and go home to shower. while i am not thrilled with changing in a locker room (and have done that), it's not so much the public-nudity thing that makes me shower at home as it is the moist sweaty air and the idea that someone has very likely sat naked on the bench so i can't put my stuff on it. just easier to go home.

and if i was using a gym at work? definitely would shower at home. avoiding some embarrassment would be worth that stinky drive home.

i applaud you using a work-gym!

kathy

46
Carroll
Mar 23, 2012

Clearly you are not alone, but Lucy's comment for the win! As a former Proper Bostonian, surely just a stone skip across The Pond from a Reserved Brit's heritage, who found herself in an all-girl's college dorm with a communal shower, my tactic was to become a night owl and shower only around 2AM -- which tended to leave me clean, but groggy for those 8AM freshman seminars. And Abby's experience above with the bra fitting thing is making me nervous -- JUST as I have been working myself up to thinking it's about time to have one of those! (sigh) Maybe I can convince my mind that bra fitters are in the same category of unconcerned and non-judgmental professionals as mammogram operators??

Really glad you and Claire finally got connected, Holly. She had been well-hugged by the time she saw you, and hopefully had a spare one to deliver to you on my behalf :-)

47
Melissa
Mar 24, 2012

I was exactly the same way. In high school, I had perfected changing clothes so well that I could do it on the bus coming home from basketball games without suspicion.

Anyway, I got over this when I took a long weekend and traveled to Iceland. They do not believe in chlorine, so they require that everyone shower prior to getting in the public swim areas, hot tubs and the blue lagoon. In 72 hours I had never been naked with more people and I totally didn't die. It helped that I was in a foreign country with people I would never see again. But when I returned home, I found my fear of the gym locker room and bra fittings were mostly gone.

Then I went and had a baby. That has brought out a whole new level of "un-modesty".

I will say that my husband also avoids the locker room at the gym by his work. He claims he does not need to see the hairy ass of every guy he will sit in meetings with for the next 8 hours. I totally understand.

48
One Third Acre Woods
Mar 24, 2012

Not a chance of it happening here. I do have a few questions though. 1. Why does the gym use such small towels? Good Lord they are not big enough to cover a small woman let alone the average size woman.I beg of all gym owners, please buy some bigger towels! 2. Why is it always the woman NOBODY wants to see that shows the most? I have images seared into my head that I wish I could scrub out of my mind. 3. If you feel you must apply lotion, please do it at your own locker and do not put your naked leg up on the counter to reach your ankle! At the very least, please put your underwear on first. These are all things I have seen just by walking through to hang up my coat.

49
Trixie
Mar 24, 2012

Change in public? Crazy talk. I can't even poop in a public place - and there are doors on those stalls. To do either around co-workers? People you've just been in a meeting with, trying to be all professional and grown-up? I am pretty sure that's what they mean by work/home life balance - keep your nakey times/pooping separate from the workplace. And then the world will be balanced.

50
alison
Mar 24, 2012

Underwear on before towel off, but I'll change just about anywhere. We're all more focused on ourselves than on anyone else, anyway. Even those *supremely* self-confident people who stride around naked and examine themselves in the mirror while everyone averts their eyes and hopes desperately not to have to enter into small talk with a naked stranger.

51
Erika
Mar 24, 2012

I'm absolutely terrified of changing in front of other people. I have also mastered the art of changing my clothes without ever actually being naked. I am totally okay with that and will probably never do anything different. Our society could use a little more modesty! : )

52
sensibly sassy
Mar 24, 2012

I have been dancing (like a ballet dancer-not a stripper)since I was a youngster and changing in front of others is just as instrumental as pointe shoes. That being said I am free as a bird when it comes to changing in front of others.

53
Tiera
Mar 25, 2012

I think you are in a unique situation of a work gym. There is no way in hell I would change in front of my coworkers.

54
Marcheline
Mar 25, 2012

I am not British, I am American, and I don't change clothing in public places. Will. Not.

When I was in the police academy, I was horrified to find that the female cadets were not only expected to change clothing in an open locker room, we were also expected to shower after PT in a huge open shower room! No stalls! GAH!!!! Despite being mocked roundly by the other girls, I wore the bottom half of a bikini bathing suit in the shower. Which I changed into, Houdini-style, under a towel. I was much younger and firmer then, so my top half was left uncovered, but I just wasn't parading around with my hoo-hah out, no way!

55
Tall Girl
Mar 25, 2012

Hmm, maybe this is some kind of Commonwealth legacy, as I am Canadian and also had this problem. Until I moved to Germany, and went to a spa, only to discover that the entire pool complex was... suit free. No swimsuit? Nope. I hopped around in my towel for 20 minutes before realizing that the reason people were starting at me was because I wasn't naked. That said, I still don't prance around the gym flashing my stuff, but I can change if other people are around, in a kind of stiff upper lip, just get on with it way. Unless I know the other people. Then I just shower in my clothes. ;)

56
Brittany
Mar 25, 2012

I totally won't change in front of anyone! In fact, I'll even wait until the locker room is empty before I change or I head right to the bathroom stall so I can change in "private." If you're not my husband, I won't change in front of you.

57
Lori
Mar 25, 2012

I used to be fairly prudish about changing in the gym, until I started doing the shower/getting ready thing there on a more regular basis. And now, honestly, I am so desensitized, I just don't care. I still dress fairly quickly, or at least put on my bra and underwear quickly, but its a hang-up I'm actually quite glad to let go of. That said, there are plenty of women who see no problem with walking around naked, lotioning up naked, blow drying then curling their hair naked, and I am not one of those women. I have no problem seeing other women's bodies, but I don't need to see them from certain angles. And I wish more people would keep in mind that it's a public locker room, not their private bedroom. But overall I think it's actually been kind of liberating, seeing so many different body types on display. I have enough things to worry about in life, public nudity doesn't need to be one of them.

58
Amber, theAmberShow
Mar 25, 2012

I thought I did, until, on my 30th birthday two weeks ago, I was at the spa changing for my massage. A woman asked me a question and, without thinking, I unhooked and shimmied out of my (rather sizeable, if you remember) bra and continued answering her, completely nonplussed that, for the duration of our interaction, my tits were as out as my face. In fact, it didn't even register, and she was older and didn't seem to notice, either.

I think I'm over it.

59
Rachel Lynne
Mar 25, 2012

I was on the swim team for eight years, and consequently mastered the swimsuit to clothes wriggle contortion act. and i absolutely will not change in public. hooray victorian sensibilities.

60
rachel
Mar 25, 2012

oh helllllll no am i changing in front of a group of coworkers. i don't even change clothes in my own apartment without checking the blinds are all shut!!

61
rachel
Mar 25, 2012

oh helllllll no am i changing in front of a group of coworkers. i don't even change clothes in my own apartment without checking the blinds are all shut!!

62
jasmine
Mar 26, 2012

So I went to an all girls Catholic school in Singapore where every time we have to go for PE, we had to change in class instead of being allowed to go to the bathroom. I think the reasoning was that we were going to spend all our time in the stinky restrooms making it even stinkier. Anyway, now that I'm all grown up *groan* I frankly have no issue with changing in front of people (TJ Max in Chicago has open changing rooms...and the thought of grabbing a $15 bargain pretty much removes most of my inhibitions), but I do have a problem wearing a bikini because of some rather unsightly scars on unmentionable areas as a result of an operation. Make sense? yea, I don't get it either. but there you go.

63
Courtney
Mar 26, 2012

I can' do it, either! I mean, WHY? Why is there a need for nudity? Who decided that you can't get naked anywhere else but it's perfectly acceptable to walk around in front of strangers as long as you're in a locker room?

I'm pretty good at doing the half-undress, where you take off your pants and switch for workout pants/take off top, pull sports bra on, pull regular bra out from under armpit . . . other people do that, right?

I work out at a work gym, too, and there is no un-seeing naked coworkers' bodies. There just isn't. So I tell myself that they all appreciate my modesty, because honestly I will never forget the awkward conversation I had with a topless semi-supervisor.

64
Meghan
Mar 26, 2012

Yes, I also hate changing in front of people. I do believe I managed to get through jr high & high school without anyone ever seeing a scrap of skin. But I didn't (couldn't on account of my having the smallest boobs ever) wear a bra so I had an extra layer of embarrassment to deal with. A few years back my husband and I were going to start swimming every week, and I had serious anxiety about the whole locker room/changing/showering experience. Luckily we only ever ended up going once, so I didn't have to deal with it again!
And I too thought I was the only one. So glad to see (from all the comments) that there are plenty of us out there!

65
caroline
Mar 26, 2012

If you ever take a shower at the gym after your workout again here's a way of avoiding the lost underwear panic attack and avoid walking around the locker room in just a towell. I gather up my clothes hang them on the hook, if your gym has a hook, outside of the shower. When I'm done, I dry off still inside the shower stall and put on my undergarments, as well as a tank top. Then I put the towell around my waist, step out, and put on my pants underneath the towell.

Another note, a pair of frilly underpants were hanging on the shower hook for the entire duration of my gym visit today. How does someone not notice they aren't wearing any underpants?!

66
Margie K
Mar 26, 2012

I guess I'm in the minority, the minority of responders anyway, because it doesn't bother me to change in a locker room, or to carry on a conversation with someone in the locker room -- even someone I work with, because at one point the gym I went to was frequented by several co-workers -- while getting dressed or undressed.

I know back when I was a kid, it did (I took swimming lessons when I was old enough to go without my mom), so the feeling is probably normal/natural. But even as a kid I didn't hide in a toilet (where I'd probably have my underwear fall in) or shower stall, because I'd be embarrassed to have everyone else see me doing that, while everyone else was changing non-chalantly. I just got used to the idea that everyone else does it, and it's no big deal because we all have pretty much the same equipment -- albeit in different shapes, there's nothing to be ashamed of. Sure I've seen some wrinkly saggy older women, and THEY didn't seem to be uncomfortable, so why should I? I never felt like anyone was staring; they're all simply getting down to business and getting changed as expediently as they can (doesn't wrapping yourself with a towel, which doesn't fit and has to be re-adjusted every few seconds, take a lot of excess time?).

And now I'm a slightly lumpy, 50-something with stretch marks myself. I'm not parading around, but the dryers are in the shower, so I'm often one of those drying my hair topless, because they only provide 1 towel, and I'm using it to cover my bottom half.

67
Roxanna (miguelina)
Mar 26, 2012

I dress quickly and don't linger, but I'm mostly not bothered by it.

I am bothered by traditional gym locker rooms in general. My old gym had a sign, "Hair dryers are for head use only, please." I quit soon afterwards.

68
Karen
Mar 26, 2012

I can relate.... I also mastered the houdini bra exercises in high school, and stopped going to my work gym shortly after naked managers started having project update discussions with me while lazily pulling on their thongs..... OY.

BUT -- since I don't think anyone else has mentioned it, I will..... Childbirth. Got me over it in a big way. Nothing quite like that experience and all the group project meetings occurring at my south end to make gym showers feel like a well clothed walk in the park now.

69
Ivy
Mar 26, 2012

I, too, don't like it and will avoid it whenever possible. If i really need to, I'll try to do it quickly as possible, in as out of the way corner as possible and keep my back to the room.

70
ScottsdaleGirl
Mar 26, 2012

I am just sittin over here marveling at this gem of writing

particularly puritan peccadillo?

Amazeballs

71
Hemborgwife
Mar 27, 2012

I lived in a hostel and it was either change in the room where 10 people lived or in the nasty hostel bathrooms and my phobia of wet public floors way outweighs nudity so I chose changing in the room with other people there.
In Sweden though saunas are really common as are going out of them into public lakes naked and my friend does this with her in laws and I think that is one boundary I will never cross. I would like my in laws to always see me completely clothed!

72
jennycake
Mar 27, 2012

Hello! I'm British! My changing room mantra is 'Get dry, get dressed, get out!'

Have you ever been to Japan? It is traditional to shower in a communal area while sitting on little stools, then bathe together in a huge bath. There's nothing worse than being naked and the only westerner, so therefore a huge spectacle in itself, and then getting shampoo in your eye so you have to wait forever for your vision to return before you can escape!

73
Venita Michelle
Mar 27, 2012

I am actually more put off by those women who flounce around, lady bits freely dangling (or not, as the case may be), with not a care in the world. I understand that some nudity is required to go from towel to fully clothed, but let's keep that transition snappy, shall we?

74
Charise
Mar 27, 2012

Eh, I have no problem with it. In the locker room, we all have the same parts. ;) I just change and be done with it. Although if I were to shower at the gym, I would def do undies before stripping off the towel. I do NOT get the people who strut around drying their, putting on makeup, etc., COMPLETELY nude, though.

75
Laurie
Mar 28, 2012

While reading all the comments, i remembered that I used to work with a woman who changed in the OFFICE bathroom before she went to the gym. Why? No idea. Why she had to change in the open area and render herself completely naked before she put on her workout stuff, was also a mystery. Let me tell you...seeing someone you work with entirely nude in the office bathroom is memorable. About as memorable as the choice you would have to make to leave immediately, as if you're a prude OR to stay and try to make polite office chit chat with the naked one.
Gosh...the more I think about it...what was she thinking?!

76
Chris
Apr 05, 2012

The gym I used to go to had a PARADE of naked women in the locker room. To the extent that it was not uncommon to see a woman ah hem, lotioning herself without even undies on, or drying her hair. WHY?!?! It always made me so uncomfortable, I too would change in the toilet stall. They also had showers with half-walls there. UGH.

77
Jennifer
Apr 07, 2012

You are not alone! Even though I had forced nudity during "the changing hour" of mandatory swim class in High School (I counted the days until that semester ended) and shared a sorority house of 50+ women for most of my college years, I could not relate more to your story!

I blame my Catholic upbringing and extremely modest Mother as I hadn't always been this way. At age 5, I distinctly remember trying to run into my backyard clad only in swimsuit bottoms, but Mom caught me just as my feet hit the ground. I grew up with only a brother and in a neighborhood of all boys and couldn't grasp why they could go shirtless while I'd embarrass the world without my bikini top! (The irony: it's not like a bikini top will ensure modesty for a child. They don't stay put if you don't have a chest!)

This led to a good two decades of public changing shame that I thought I'd finally conquered in my mid-20s. I joined a gym in my office building for convenience and to stay more dedicated to my fitness goals. The pro: slipping out for "lunch" a few days a week and being back at my desk in an hour. The con: I worked with many similarly minded people who also were members. I saw nude coworkers in the double digits on every visit.

Cue to one day, sans towel, completely nude as I was quickly putting on my bra & underwear. I was facing my locker to dig out my dress, but could feel someone staring at me from behind. Like, burning through your skin, creepy, stalker staring. I turned around and lo and behold, it was a coworker who I'd always found a little socially awkward.

Sure, I'd sneaked a peek now and then at the gym (who hasn't?) but if I ever got caught, I'd immediately avert my eyes. This creeper? Nope. Not only did she keep staring, but in a very loud voice, she announced, "Woooooow. You have such an amazing body...I can't stop staring". The entire locker room went silent. What?!? I'm supposed to look at you at staff meetings after that doozy?

Two decades of nudity self-confidence building down the gym's shower drain. I'm in my late 30s now and am still scarred by that experience!

78
Heidi
Jul 14, 2012

I thought I might be the only one thinking, Why do these women not want to cover up? I personally like my private life being private. I have no need to go traipsing through a gym locker naked. Nope. No need.

79
xasbmelnimer1976
Apr 05, 2013

Считайте, что я теперь постаянный читатель у вас!

80
taitoimolmy1982
Apr 07, 2013

Поскольку я не сильно разобрался в теме, то прошу вас написать пояснения и продолжения. Буду ждать.

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