Up until now, I've never used the changing rooms at the gym. I've always gotten changed at work, driven to the gym, done my class, and then got into my car and gone home where I can shower in peace and privacy. Well, now that I'm in London that isn't an option. Last week I joined the gym down the road from work so I could make use of their pool, and so with it came my first foray into the world of The Ladies Changing Room. Woah buddy. Of all the things I expected, not a single one of those things was all the NAKED. Seriously, I didn't know where to look. There were naked bodies pretty much everywhere! All shapes and sizes, all manner of jiggly and not jiggly bits, all different kinds of hair styles (seriously, I had no idea). I was a little embarrassed, I must admit. I felt like I'd been completely blind sided by a world of public nakedness I never knew existed. It was weird. Just, weird.
And then I realised that there was this other thing - the attitude of all these naked women. They rocked it like it was nobody's business that they were walking about with no clothes in the company of other unclothed people - they had no shame. Well, maybe that's the wrong word. They just didn't make a fuss about it. They all got naked, did what they needed to (shower, change, whatever), and then left back out into the clothed world. No one was really paying anyone else any attention, they went about their business quickly and quietly.
I began to think they had a point, actually. Trying to cover myself up with a towel while I got changed was a bit of a pain. Showering in my togs was kind of weird, and I still smelt of chlorine after. So I tried it, the naked thing. Pretended like I didn't care one iota about my wobbly bits, or the stretch marks or any of those super self critical things that girls have. Turns out that not giving a shit was the best idea ever. It cut down on my post-swim shower + change time, made changing way easier, and I stopped smelling like chlorine. Win.
Turns out nobody was watching me, at all. No body was paying the slightest bit of attention to anyone else. No cared. Pretty awesome.
To be honest, this whole experience has just highlighted how us girls (in general, myself included) have way too many hang ups about how we look. No one wants to stand around in a bikini for fear someone will judge them. No one wants to see 'fat' photos of themselves on facebook, and everyone worries too much about what other people might think about them. Turns out that actually, other people aren't looking at our flaws. They probably aren't looking at us at all. Turns out that we are our own harshest critics, we see flaws that aren't there and build up all these insecurities and wear them like a horribly unattractive towel around ourselves that just makes us look insecure and awkward.
Call me lazy, but turns out it's easier just to not make a fuss about it. So that's I'm doing. Making less of a fuss about all the things. I'll let you know how it goes.
Note: About two weeks after I wrote this, my gym opened a new changing room for the ladies. It includes cubicles and shower doors for the shy girls. There is only ever so slightly less naked now.