Monday, May 08, 2006

Undressing in High School

The Tacoma News Tribune ran a story in the paper recently chronicling the poor hygiene of student athletes. Apparently, kids these days prefer not to shower in the locker room where God and everybody can stare and point at their private bits while they lather, rinse and repeat.

Imagine!

I still cannot shake the horror of sixth grade and the required showers we had to take after physical education (P.E.) class. I was already mortified by the changes hormones had wrought. I disguised my womanly curves in a large blue down coat during classes. But in P.E., after stripping off our required uniforms of white shorts, white t-shirts and white tube socks, we were all expected to disrobe, scurry into the showers, make sure that the teacher saw us unclothed, dab ourselves dry with skimpy towels, pull on our clothing and run off to class.

(This was very problematic for my hairstyle--the feathered bangs went awry after contact with my sweaty forehead. How is a girl supposed to look cute when her hair is wonky? Thus is the root of my social inadequacies in sixth grade.)

I might have died of embarrassment, if embarrassment could kill. A perceptive girl quoted in the article points out that the lack of showering by student athletes "might be self-consciousness."

"I've never seen girls shower in the locker room," said Kylie Marshall, a volleyball standout at Emerald Ridge High. "It might be self-consciousness. If I were to even think about it, I'd wear a bathing suit. In society, we're not taught to be comfortable being naked in the public showers."

Marshall, who also plays on a select volleyball team, said that she and her teammates come to those practices in their gear. Sweats come off before practice and go back on after practice before heading home to shower.

"I think guys are more open and don't really care," Marshall said. "With girls, it goes back to the olden days where were brought up to be more conservative."

Um, the "olden days"? Were the "olden days" back in 1992? Where are these modest conservative girls of which she speaks? Everywhere I go, I see girls' bellybuttons, cleavage, tight t-shirts and jeans (or mini-skirts) outlining their bodies.

We see mostly naked people on network television these days and pixilated naked people on basic cable channels. Not a whole lot is left to the imagination . . . and yet, kids these days are too modest to shower?

We're told that more than half of American teenagers engage in oral s*x, and they are shy about their bodies? They aren't comfortable "being naked in the public showers"?

We hear all about MySpace, where teenagers post suggestive photographs of themselves. And yet--they refuse to shower at school?

What an odd collision of facts. Fashions have become less and less modest, leaving nothing to the imagination, really, and yet, kids refuse to shower because someone might see them? I wonder if teenagers are just more self-conscious, aware that their bodies don't measure up to the image of perfection bombarding us in the media. I suspect that's closer to the truth--it's not about modesty, it's about their own perceived imperfections.

Whatever the reason they abstain from school showers, who can blame them?

I only wish I'd been able to do the same.

7 Comments:

Blogger deb said...

Please, I don't want to think about this yet. I really don't want to think about this yet. Aaaaack! Hard to imagine my older girl is approaching middle school soon. The bane of my existance. Where kids morph and PE showers are most likely going to be skipped. ::sigh::

My girls, after a couple of fits and starts, have gotten used to disrobing in our gym's locker room and going to the showers. But, this is with complete strangers, mostly women, or older girls. I wonder how they'll feel about disrobing with others their own age?

I don't want to think about this. Make me stop!

6:36 PM  
Blogger Juliabohemian said...

it wouldn't bother me, since I am an exhibitionist. But I imagine that would be difficult for many. I am thinking of that scene in CARRIE where they are showering and she gets her period for the first time.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I am absolutely totally without any doubt opposed to the forced group shower.

4:48 AM  
Blogger meredith said...

There must be a way where children can take private showers and let them keep their sense of privacy as long as possible. I hated gym class for this too, because of a late puberty that I did not want others to not see.
In france, they are finally putting doors on the bathroom stalls in the kindergarten so that the kids can go in private, which they naturally want to do, anyway.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Dapoppins said...

I am scraming in agreement, "It is the imperfections and the FACT that the other girls will make sure EVERYBODY knows about them!" 'AHHHHHHH! And that girl..."olden days!" Jee-whiz! She is probablly a bully who would do the tormenting or else she would have said "Well Duh! Do you think I want every one looking at my jiggle spots? They would never let me forget, they would take a picture and put it on My Space!"

5:08 PM  
Blogger Chewy Mom said...

Heck, if you want to see naked people, check out the latest Newsweek. There's a totally naked pregnant woman in there. She is only covered by her hands in certain places. I'm thinking I can't believe we pay to have that stuff enter my house. Yuck.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments!

When I was in High School (grades 7-12)in the 1950's we always had to take mandatory showers after gym class.

The girl's locker room had a communal and completely wide open shower room with polls that had 4 shower heads each on them, and you always had another girl facing you as you showered.

But in all honesty, even if the showers had not been mandatory I and i'm sure every other girl would have showered anyway.

At that time it was the boys who you did not want or allow to see you nude, not other girls!

We girls dressed conservatively, and most of us waited till marriage to sleep with a guy, we never used foul language. But we also did not have a problem with being nude in front of other girls in the locker room.

As I said it was the boys that you would hide your nude body from, but in a 100% non-sexual way it was completely normal to feel free to be nude in front of other girls and the female gym instructor. After the first few showers in the seventh grade most of us girls no-longer even bothered covering-up with a towell while going back and forth to and from the showers or while gossiping about other kids in the school.

On rare occasions our gym instructor even showered with us if she had a meeting right after our gym class ended, but no-one gave it a second thought one way or another.

But in the modern day I now swim at a local YMCA 3 nights a week. In the women's locker room at the Y we women who are 40 and over have no hesitation to shower nude in the communal shower-room or to change in and out of our bathingsuits out in the open.

The funny thing that I have noticed is that many teen girls will come into the women's locker room and head straight for a toilet stall to change out of their clothes and into their bathingsuits, and yet when they come out they are dressed (sort of anyway) in thong bikinis. These girls will then strut around the pool with their entire butt showing to all of the guys who are there, and since it is a YMCA it is loaded with men and boys.

The same girls who are wearing thong bikinis and who show no signs of any tan lines either will then go into the women's locker room after their swim and will shower with their bathingsuits still on while avoiding making any eye contact with a woman who is showering nude.

If you ask me I would rather have my daughter be totally comfortable with being nude in a non-sexual situation like a locker room where it's strictly females, and yet have the decency to not flaunt her naked backside in front of men who she does not even know!

More females these days need to learn to be to comfortable enough in their own skin to not act like silly little children hiding in the locker room from one another, and yet have enough respect for themselves to not trat themselves like a sex toy for men!

Mary M

12:00 AM  

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