When I posted some musings from a workout at the gym, my dear friend Brian left this comment, “At the gym, as in life, for every person you wish you could trade places with, there’s someone who wishes she could trade places with you. And that is beautiful.”
In my next life, I hope I come back as a child of Brian’s. Is that weird?
Brian’s thought has worked its way around in my mind, reminding me to chuck my self-consciousness to a certain degree and to appreciate what I’ve got (and not focus on what I am not).
At another trip to the gym, I changed in the locker room from my work day dress to workout wear and as usual, marveled at the women who stroll across the room topless, hang out in the sauna in the altogether and generally have an air of comfort about their unclothed selves.
I’m the person in the corner, hiking up the yoga pants under the dress, wrestling the bra from underneath the top and generally going through some pre-workout gyrations (worth a few calories, at least) in order to change without full exposure.
And I’ve been wondering about that . . . it’s not mere modesty, or shyness, exactly; it’s a self-conscious belief that because I don’t look like some kind of supermodel under here, and for some reason that offer to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue seems never to arrive. . . that no one should have to be subjected to the sight of my pale white posterior in the event they inadvertently glance in my direction.
I’m probably not ever going to reach the comfort level of the lady I encountered in the dark in the sauna (it took a second for my eyes to adjust and then I was impressed at the amount of eighty-year old naked flesh accompanying me in there). Nor do I ever see myself baring all for publication (Several women older than I have posed in Playboy, just FYI in case you’re into that).
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being all out exhibitionist, one being a cloistered nun, I am definitely near the lower end of the scale — say a 2 or maybe a 3. I mean, I don’t change in the bathroom at home (OK, I have, but there were reasons) so I’m not a total prude, but I’m just not a natural body flaunter. How do people get that way? Is that learned or inherited? Naked nurture vs. nature?
As I’m challenging myself to lose weight and become more physically fit, I’m adding on another dimension to the challenge; to get more comfortable in my own skin and (only when totally appropriate and no one is looking) to change in the locker room like it’s not 40 below and I run the risk of frostbite; like I don’t care if anyone’s looking, and certainly keeping in mind, that for every person I wish I could trade places with, there’s someone who wishes she could trade places with me.
I think I could write a blog post about this myself just from reading yours… hmm…
As I see it, there’s a level of comfort for every different situation.
If I have any locker-room anxiousness it’s left over from high school when everyone was generally trying not to show anything. That’s the only way I’ve ever behaved in a locker-room and it wasn’t until I was at ACAC that I realized it was kind of silly to try to hide so much when it’s really a lot easier to just get dressed normally. Going from that realization to sauntering around topless is another level that common sense doesn’t justify as easily…
As far as parental influence… we did a lot of camping when I was growing up and there’s not much room for modesty in a tent or a van or a 23′ sailboat. I can and do change out of my wetsuit after kayaking in the driver seat of my car (at least the short wetsuit).
But in general, changing clothes is more of a necessary inconvenience. My photographer friend tells me about the models he works with who just hike around the woods naked even when he isn’t taking their picture… yeah, I’m not that comfortable.
You know what I think of when you mention hiking naked? Ticks! Mosquitoes! Sunburn! Rashes in terrible places. Hiking naked is a terrible idea.