An Adequate Amount of Shame


We really have a problem with certain forms of nudity in this country, don’t we?

Our good sensibilities are offended by the sight of the uncovered human body.  Why?  What’s to be ashamed of?

I mentally revisit this issue on a number of levels.  As a parenting blogger, it often comes up in the context of nursing in public.  In case you have been living under a rock, some people are offended when a woman breastfeeds her child in a public place.  Rather than using their God-given neck muscles to turn their heads and look away from the offending sight, they instead flex their outrage muscle and complain, ask the mother to leave, or otherwise attempt to make the mother feel like she is doing something she shouldn’t.  Fortunately, a lot of people have a problem with this approach and are making an effort to “normalize” breastfeeding so that no one has to clutch their pearls when they see a woman feeding her child.

But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about a sign I found at my gym today:

This wasn’t posted by the co-ed pool, by the whirlpool, in the workout area, or by the weights.  It is posted in the women’s locker room.  The place where women remove their clothing to shower and change clothes.  The one place in the building where you would expect to find women in various states of undress.

I’m actually angry about this.  No, I’m pissed off.

At first, I was angered by the message that this sign sends.  To all of those women that I see at the gym – from the dedicated hardbodies to the women with less than perfect figures but with incredible dedication – what does this sign say?  That your body is inadequate?  That it offended someone enough that they caused this sign to be hung?   That even though you are among other women – women who have all the same parts you do – yours are offensive to someone, so cover that shit up?  It has to be one of those things, doesn’t it?

Then, I started to wonder:  what did cause this sign to be put up?  I admit, I’m a little bit of a locker room nudist.  After my shower, I get only partially dressed: underwear, pants, and bra, and then I do my hair and makeup before I put my shirt on.  That buys me a few extra minutes of cooldown time after my shower.  So am I, and women who do as I do, the inspiration for this sign?  Is my bare midriff upsetting someone enough to inspire them to make this sign?  I got fully dressed immediately after my shower today upon seeing this sign, just in case.

Finally, it made me question: why do we even have to have this discussion?  The locker room is a place designed for women to change clothing – and be naked in the process – so why on earth would anyone post this sign?  What is with this expectation that we should harbor a certain amount of shame about our bodies?  What’s the adequate amount of shame for this purpose?

Readers:  Am I off base here, or does that sign hit a nerve with you?  What are your thoughts?


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15 Responses to An Adequate Amount of Shame

  1. Benda

    Seriously? I’d quit that gym asap, with a written letter to the LA Fitness corporate team.

    • Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction

      Honestly, I was thinking about it. I was going to post a link to this blog on their corporate Facebook page, but they have wall posts turned off so I can’t do that.

  2. Camille

    Everyone’s naked in locker rooms… What a weird sign. How are we supposed to change and cover up at the same time???
    Camille recently posted..Lols and Aws

  3. Megan B.B.

    I work at a gym, and would never ever imagine putting up a sign like this. And trust me, walking around without a shirt is nothing. I have old women who get into full on conversations with me who are completely nekkid, sitting on a bench.
    I’m sure it’s because they got a complaint. I would speak to the manager on duty there.

  4. MomEinstein

    How do they expect people to change without perhaps showing a little skin? I admit, when showering or changing into/out of a bathing suit, I opt to use a changing stall or shower stall. But to change from work clothes to workout clothes, I have no problem just changing there. And any time I saw the totally naked old ladies hanging out, I thought it was odd (why sit around naked and have a conversation?) but not offensive. I would only complain if someone was being lewd or inappropriate.

    I can’t imagine your midriff is offensive to anyone. I would continue to get ready as you used to.
    MomEinstein recently posted..Pigtails! – Wordless Wednesday

  5. emily @ the happy home

    i’m with you on being really pissed off. i have an autoimmune disorder that makes me *really* sensitive to temperatures. after a shower, i have to cool down before i put on pants and get fully dressed. would someone really get angry with me for standing around for 10 minutes in my undies?
    something makes me think that this was also aimed at the ladies who work out in shorts & a sports bra– not just the naked ladies in the locker room. and you know what? also unacceptable. no one has any right to tell me to preserve my “modesty”. that’s for me to decide.
    emily @ the happy home recently posted..Eat Like An Adult– Tips from Kim @kimskitchensink

  6. The Many Thoughts of a Reader

    WTF. People are stupid.
    The Many Thoughts of a Reader recently posted..A day in the life of Jess…

  7. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    Ugh. I’m mad right along with you. I’ve definitely wondered why some people stay nude the whole time they’re getting ready in our pool’s locker room, but I just figured it was up to me to avert my eyes if I was feeling uncomfortable. As for myself, I’m often a bit of a slow dresser because I usually have one or two little kids to help dress as well. Sometimes I’m naked or half-naked while helping get them settled. I’d hate to see a sign like that making me all nervous that my body was unacceptable for locker-room view. If it makes you feel any less weird about your habits, I would not find a woman in pants and a bra in a locker room uncomfortable-making at all.

    I’d talk to or write the management to express your displeasure, and your reasons for it.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Tea party

  8. Jupiter

    I don’t even know what to think about that. It sounds like some uptight lady(ies) like my mother complained but seriously, how can you not be naked in the locker room?
    Jupiter recently posted..The Boy with the Pretty Toes

  9. Valerie @ Momma in Progress

    Um, yeah. I don’t get this at all. How exactly does one change clothes and cover up at the same time? And who exactly would one be being modest *for*? Seems like an odd (poorly worded? although what would be better? or needed at all?) sign at best. I’m just utterly confused by it.
    Valerie @ Momma in Progress recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday (24)

  10. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    Ridiculous. I’d love to know if there is a similar sign in the men’s locker room.

  11. Issa @ LoveLiveGrow

    I would be hopping mad on so many levels. How do you cover up while also undressing/dressing? I would need a demonstration. And modesty? I don’t actually have any of that… so do they sell it at the juice bar? And who is this “appreciated by all”? I, personally, appreciate it when people stay in whatever state of dress/undress they prefer, with a slight tilt towards appreciating undress a bit more. So… who is this “all”? Presumptuous!
    Issa @ LoveLiveGrow recently posted..How Do You Know These Legs Are Male?

  12. Emily

    The only time I’m even remotely “concerned” in the locker room is naked nether-regions on a bench with nothing in between. But that’s a potential bodily fluid thing rather than an “omg, your epidermis is showing!” thing.

    I nursed in our gym’s locker room – and will again. But no one ever did much more than smile and ask me to scoot to one side or the other so they could access their locker. I did always manage to sit right in front of the one locker that was going to be needed. But that’s a whole other issue.

    Stupid sign. STUPID sign.

  13. Lacey Jane

    My husband and I checked out a nudist resort a couple weekends ago, just to see if it is something we would be more interested in frequenting. It was refreshing to see people just… not care that they were naked. 7 billion people on this planet. Every single one of them has a body. All different. All the same. What is to be ashamed of?
    Lacey Jane recently posted..An Update (but mainly naked pictures).

  14. nikki at click clack gorilla

    WHOA. Horrifying. Really offensive. I’m surprised you didn’t rip it down and throw it away. I might not have been able to stop myself from doing so. Or taking it down and taking it to the manager all red in the face wanting to know what it was about. Seriously. In a locker room? Nonsense.

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