Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  877 comments   :  193,066 Views

I grew up playing school sports and taking phys ed class, so I've been in my share of locker rooms. But now that I'm an adult, the only locker room I encounter is at the gym. And to be perfectly honest, I'm really—I mean REALLY—uncomfortable changing in the women's locker room. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the odd woman out or if I'm normal after all.

When I was in high school, everyone would change in the locker room before gym, practices and games. But unlike my parents' generation, we weren't required to shower there afterwards, and I don't think a single girl ever used the locker room showers. Beyond that, we were mostly clothed most of the time. Although you wouldn't know it from seeing how Hollywood often depicts the "girls locker room," there were no thongs or bare chests. At my school, the girls would change as quickly as possible, usually not talking to each other much and facing away from one another. And when we'd have to put on sports bras, we were pros on being prudish: We'd put our sports bras on top of our underwire bras, and then unclasp and strategically pull the underwire bra out from underneath the sports bra—never exposing anything to anyone. I never thought any of this was weird or uncomfortable at the time. Perhaps I was more comfortable with my body then than I am today. But now that I have the choice about where to change, rare is the day that I change clothes in my gym locker room.

I don't know why I feel so weird about it. Maybe it's because this environment is strikingly different than the locker rooms of my youth. Here, women actually walk around, face each other, and even talk to each other in various states of undress. And they use the showers, too! And it's not just the thin ones or older ones or the fit ones. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes seem to be really comfortable being naked or half-naked in front of other women. Not me. I pretty much avoid it if at all possible, usually changing in the restroom at work before I head to the gym, or sometimes changing in the bathroom stall inside the locker room.

I don't know what I'm so afraid of—maybe silent judgment? We all know how women can be, how we size each other up and compare ourselves to others. Maybe I don't like it just because it's so different than what I grew up with. Or maybe it's a generational thing. I know that my mom and grandmother are a lot more comfortable about this stuff than my sister and I are.

But in reality, I'm actually jealous. I wish I could be as free and feel as comfortable about my own body as these women seem to feel about theirs.

How about you? Do you feel self-conscious in the locker room? Or do you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing?

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    Never do this! - 9/19/2017   8:56:55 AM
  • 876
    No waaay in the world!!! - 8/21/2017   8:39:54 PM
    No way! Especially since the women's locker room is essentially "open" and anyone could walk in and out of there at any time. It also bothers me when women are sitting on the benches, naked, and chatting away on their phones! Are you kidding me? If I need to change, I'll use a toilet stall. - 8/8/2017   6:50:37 AM
  • 874
    It would depend on the facility. At the moment, I work out at home so it's a moot point, but in general, if it is a gym that caters to ADULTS, I have no problem with it. However, one of the reasons I discontinued my YMCA membership many years ago is that so many women seemed to think it OK to bring young MALE children -- and I mean 5-6 year-olds, not infants -- into the locker room with them. I don't particularly like preschoolers as it is; I ESPECIALLY don't like being gawked at by them. - 7/20/2017   4:13:30 PM
  • 873
    I am hesitant about undressing in a locker room because of the prevalence of cell phone cameras, but I still do it. I don't have time to hide myself in a bathroom stall; I have things to do. It helped when I did an indoor triathlon earlier this year. After the swim portion, the ladies were all hurriedly stripping out of wet swimsuits and putting on their biking and running clothes. No one cared.

    I think getting a feel for your particular gym helps too. My home gym locker room feels more conservative, so I face the wall when I change my bra and such, but that's for others' comfort, not mine.

    As far as locker rooms in school growing up? In middle school during swim season, the girls had to share showers, so there was no covering up. I don't remember how I felt about it. In high school, I took ROTC instead of gym. I'm glad I did that. About a year or two after I graduated the one male gym coach (small school) was arrested for repeatedly peeping on the girls' locker room. - 7/2/2017   7:42:46 AM
  • 872
    These days I wouldn't take a chance on being photographed or videoed. There is no guarantee of privacy. I would not change in a public area. I use a stall. - 6/15/2017   4:10:42 PM
  • 871
    I'm a modest person too. I don't change in front of other people. - 6/5/2017   7:32:09 AM
  • 870
    i cant imagine shaming or intimidating another woman, but its certainly been done to me starting in Jr High, usually by kids (later women) who had great bodies. this continued for decades, until i joined a womens gym popular with lesbian and bi females. they did NOT put up with it, didnt dish it out, and were the BEST workout mates. unfortunately, that gym closed, we moved out of town, and the "moment" was broken. recently i stumbled on a group of older ladies (as i now am) at our area pool. all are silvers, all apple-shaped, most healthy. to finally be in the group that's "normal" is amazing. the only people who stare are the occasional youngster who wanders in, and they are arent allowed to keep staring or jeer, like in the bad old days. i can't be the only person who's experienced this crap, but i'm glad it's mostly on the wane. it's encumbant on us to speak up for ourselves and others, to not allow those days to return. - 2/16/2017   3:24:06 AM
    I am a year round swimmer and have to use the locker room mostly during the winter months. I joined a new gym in 2013 and felted immediately uncomfortable around all the nude, out of shape women. I was told it was my own issues so I continued showering and dressing after swim classes. I was much younger than the other women by 20/30 years. Therefore, my body type didn't match what I was seeing. What I didn't realize is that other women were intimidated by my body. I got attacked and gropped by another women gym
    member. I Had to file charges and so forth. There is a silent code of ethics most of the time in locker rooms but not everyone follows a good moral compass. After a long absence,I returned to the same locker room but now I am more cautious and use the bathroom for changing. I am not modest but I have realized that the locker rooms scene isn't just about how I feel it is also about how others feel as well. If we do our best to set the record straight with the other women's inappropriate comments and questions that is a tell-tell sign that we are a target for more than just words. Reporting to the gym's staff can help but ultimately it is best to change our routine to break the cycle. Not to give our power away but to safe guard ourselves from other women's insecurities that can lead to physical attack. For all of us that are uncomfortable undressing in a semi-public environment, maybe it is are own self preservation that is helping us. Locker rooms make us completely exposed without surveillance cameras and we never know what another person is really thinking. It's unfortunate that the code of ethics are not always enforced and the golden rule can get thrown out the window. I continue to take aqua aerobics classes but I now where swim leggings and a rash guard jacket. Since I learned that my body type was such a issue with other women, I cover up and feel less exposed. I do my part, although the comments and questions still happen. Sometimes life presents the other side of the coin but confidence means being whole not perfect. I now choose the masculine role of being very unpleasant towards others breach of conduct. That works like a charm. - 12/30/2016   4:09:46 PM
  • 868
    A body is a body is a body. I've never been the least bit self conscious of stripping down to the buff - and take it further to the hot tubs and sauna - I'll lay on a towel but wear a bathing suit - why. I'd even be comfortable in a co ed facility - in fact there were a couple of spas in SantaFe that had community hot tubs (cheaper than private which they had too) and suits weren't allowed. It has nothing to do with being "modest" - it has to do with how you are raised and what you come to believe. In Utah, professed LDS church members wear their garments in the hot tub although most have no problem with others being naked. Their religious belief forbids it. That's fine. Otherwise I find it hard to believe anyone who has had a baby or been a patient in a good teaching hospital would ever feel odd. One thing it does make me aware of is how with age my body has changed - I'm 3" shorter but just 10 pounds heavier than I was in college - and now I'm pear shaped where before I was considered athletic. - 12/14/2016   9:46:30 PM
  • 867
    I am still and always will be very modest. I never change in front of anyone including my husband. Don't judge me please, I really am a prude although I have very happily had 5 babies.....without undressing in front of hubby. No matter when I am slim or overweight, I have always been modest to the extreme. - 12/8/2016   7:40:45 PM
  • 866
    Nope, I always use the 1 stall to change in.
    Even when I was young and slim, I didn't
    like to be exposed. I shower at home and
    leave my pool shoes on at all times. - 9/15/2016   9:18:11 PM
  • JENNY900
    I am really uncomfortable about changing in the locker room and as long as I can remember always have been. I go to a pool and sometimes in the change room women are absolutely stark naked and just walking around. I actually shower with my bathers on and change in the toilet stall.
    I have a friend who will answer the door in just a towel and once away from the door remove the towel and carry on quite normally. She is so confident about her body and she has had a mastectomy. 10 points to her but no I just could never do that and I don't feel comfortable when others do. I also hate going for PAP smears and breast exams even with female medical staff. - 9/10/2016   7:35:48 PM
  • MARIAF58
    I have been an athlete since the age of four and I actually have never thought about not changing clothes in the womens locker rooms. I never felt any inhibition, I guess I am so used to it. Now I am 58 years old, still an athlete, not so slim anymore and frankly I don't give a rats behind what people think about my body. I am from Europe and I guess we are more free over there with nudity. Living in America for around 20 years now, I find that women are more reserved with showing their bodies. For me, it's just a body, and each one has something beautiful going for it, slim or fat. - 7/8/2016   4:23:41 PM
  • 863
    Not since I gained all of this weight. I don't need a dozen women pointing and giggling at me. :D - 6/16/2016   11:19:03 AM
  • 862
    I try never to change in the open in the gym locker room. There are so many women way more fit than I who spend their time admiring THEIR bodies in the mirror from many angles that it makes me self-conscious. - 5/15/2016   12:53:44 PM
  • 861
    When I go to the pool for physio, I always change in one of the little changing cubbies with a door. I can't undress in front of strangers. After the day a little boy shouted "look at her bum" with him mom as an undressed woman walked by them, I almost vomited at the thought that it could have been me he shouted about.
    I also suffer from almost soul-crushing social anxiety. - 5/15/2016   4:52:04 AM
  • 860
    I would not ever change in front of others. I do not look at myself naked at home either. I have terrible body acceptance issues, and my thought is always, if I can't stand to look at this body, why on earth would anyone else want to? Granted, I weigh 50 lbs more than I used to, but I wouldn't have done it then either. I applaud all the women out there who seem so accepting of themselves. Congrats to you! Everyone just needs to do what they are comfortable with. However, I do have to say to the people who do the locker room scenes on tv, Yeah, right! - 3/14/2016   2:28:46 PM
  • 859
    I go to the "Y" and change in the women's locker room all the time. I'm a bit on the thin side. I'm also 64 years old. As the article mentioned, women talk to each other and walk around in various stages of undress. They don't seem uncomfortable or judgmental. I quickly undress and dress and go about my business. There are 3 private changing rooms in the locker room. I'm never seen anyone use them. Hold your head high and be confident. We all have the same parts. - 3/13/2016   9:23:06 PM
  • 858
    I've been obese, and fielded the resultant "teasing," since Kindergarten. At 56 yrs old, that's a lot of programming to overcome. Several years ago, I briefly attended a wonderful, all-women's gym, heavily favored by a group of fitness-focused ladies, most of whom preferred the company of other females. It was WONDERFUL. I never felt any inhibition. The gym closed after only a few months, and I've never felt so comfortable anywhere since. I've just begun pool aerobics with a group of ladies even larger and older than myself, yet I'm still having trouble dealing with my body in the changing room. Usually, I retreat to a toilet stall or handicap shower, or dry off enough to pull on gym pants and tee. One of many issues I'd love to conquer! - 3/2/2016   12:41:18 AM
    You surprise me as you are so slim and in such good shape that I thought you'd be at ease. That teaches us not to generalize. I'm your mom's generation, maybe even older, depending on your mom's age, but I was never comfortable changing in a locker room and haven't changed with years. This teaches me a lesson--not to prejudge the younger generation. BTW, love your chair exercise videos---the other ones, too but the chair ones help me more. - 10/28/2015   1:08:29 PM
  • 856
    I think you have to go with what is comfortable for you, but that said, I was shy when younger (it really bothered me) but got over it as I got older. I think the benefit of that was realizing that I could get past what "others" might think of me, and of accepting my body as "mine" and no one else's business. It was a better attitude for me and liberating to realize it's a cultural hangup. All I worry about in locker rooms is my feet and catching athlete's foot or the like! - 10/2/2015   9:44:07 AM
  • 855
    As I go early in the morning to the gym, it is more convenient for me to go back home to shower, fix breakfast, and get ready than it is to do it in the locker room. - 9/24/2015   11:02:50 AM
  • 854
    I am not a locker room person either. I was always VERY uncomfortable with it while growing up -- just modest, I guess. - 9/20/2015   12:22:45 PM
  • 853
    I am quite comfortable in the locker room--but I'm also your mother's generation! - 8/18/2015   4:50:19 PM
  • BLONDY01
    I never took showers after gym class, but I've never been super shy about my body. Then I went through Basic Training and had group showers and no privacy at all so now I don't even think about it. I shower at the gym and I walk from the stall where I put my stuff to the shower naked but then I have my towel on walking to my locker, where I get dressed. It's so nice to take a shower without having someone else in the house wanting the bathroom. - 6/22/2015   10:25:23 PM
  • 851
    I usually hit the gym after work, so I change in the locker room and it doesn't bother me. I was telling my husband how much I liked Planet Fitness and I mentioned that the locker room was always clean and well-maintained. To which he replied, "I'm not really a locker room guy." I kind of chuckled, cause I wouldn't call myself a locker room girl either. But the only time I use the stalls to change is when I'm wearing Spanx. No one needs to see me shimmy out of those! - 6/22/2015   1:47:28 PM
  • 850
    I have no problem changing in the locker room, but I definitely do not think you are "making a big deal out of nothing," though. We all have different securities and insecurities, and that is ok! - 6/9/2015   8:34:03 PM
  • 849
    I'm not comfortable enough to walk around naked or near naked like some people are but I change quickly in front of my locker. I don't shower though. Only if I swim. I usually don't have time to shower as it is my lunch hour. - 6/9/2015   6:28:14 PM
  • 848
    I've noticed this is a very "American" thing, being shy in locker rooms. A lot of my locker room experience has been either in Mexico or at my local YMCA where many of the members are older women and in NY we're a pretty international bunch of ladies. People are 100% buck nakid everywhere and I haven't ever noticed. I will admit I feel a lot more confident in a bikini or nakid in Mexico than I do in America, always. - 6/9/2015   4:07:57 PM
    I feel the same! I know that part of it is being self-conscious about my weight, but I'm also pretty ... prudish, maybe? Even with my doctor, I feel uncomfortable and I know she's seen it ALL! - 6/9/2015   10:25:59 AM
  • 846
    Great article, I'm glad I'm not the only one.

    I am so self conscious of my body (i) because I am so overweight (ii) I suffer from psorisis and parts of my body are scarred from old flare ups.

    I normally wear my workout clothes to the gym and carry a change of clothes and a pack of baby wipes in my bag. When I've finished my workout I normally go to the toilets,have a 'wipe down' with the baby wipes, and get changed in there. - 6/9/2015   3:52:05 AM
  • 845
    At my Y everyone changes in a curtained booth. In nearly 5 years I've only seen two women walk through the locker room not fully clothed. Don't know how I'd feel in the gym room you describe. - 5/3/2015   5:26:54 PM
  • 844
    I think I have been a nurse to long. I have seen every shape and size of many and woman you could imagine. The human body holds no surprises for me and I just don't care one way or the other. I go to the gym before work and shower there and am not bothered if a naked woman talks to me. - 5/3/2015   4:29:28 PM
  • 843
    I actually managed to avoid changing in front of others during gym class. The locker room had this odd room in the back. No door, but it was away from everyone enough to where I wasn't being seen. Another likeminded girl took refuge in the unused shower stalls. I haven't changed my stance on changing clothes since then. - 5/3/2015   11:42:04 AM
  • 842
    Oddly, I feel a sense of neurotic camaraderie. Every woman in the locker room struggles with at least a smidgen of body image issues. I guess I feel part of a sisterhood of imperfect humans working on our fitness and health goals. I suppose that sounds a little sappy, but that thought helps me not be too hard on myself if I can cut my fellow exercisers some slack. AND, after my workout, I'm a hot mess (literally!) :) - 4/15/2015   12:01:58 AM
  • IGIRL66
    I am very modest in the gym locker room. I change in the bathroom at work, head to the gym, go home in my gym clothes and shower in the privacy of my own home. My current gym has a lot of very young, very fit, very attractive members. I feel like that Planet Fitness gymtimidation ad with the Baywatch-esque women in their skimpy outfits telling each other how hot they are. There are a lot of fake boobs on display, and my sagging, pendulous “real ones” remain securely tucked away under two sports bras and a t-shirt. I’m sure the sight of them would frighten the young girls. Shortly after I joined the gym I was privy to a conversation/show and tell between three women comparing their bikini waxes. *shudder* The waxing style comparison completely chased away all thoughts of changing in that locker room. While I envy their comfort and openness with their bodies, I’m not sure I really want to get to that level of intimacy with random women at the gym. So. I avoid the locker room as much as possible.

    However, it was the absolute other end of the spectrum of my current gym. Many of the women in that gym were middle aged moms and seniors and there was a much stronger feeling of camaraderie. Many of the women were recovering from hip and knee replacements, back surgeries and other ailments and needed help changing in and out of their clothes. There was a much stronger spirit of “community of women” helping each other. They maintained enough modesty to remain as dignified as possible, but when nakedness was necessary there was an acceptance of sagging, bulging, scarring, and dimpling. I still didn't prance around naked, but I wasn't as opposed about exposing any flesh in the locker room as I have been at other gyms. - 4/14/2015   9:52:08 AM
  • 840
    When I was a teenager, I changed in the locker room. I never really looked at anyone, I just tried to hurry up. We had to change, or we would get in trouble. One day I was in a hurry to leave so I didn't get tardy to my next class, and the gym teacher gave me a D for that semester. She said I was wearing street clothes to class. Anyway, when I got to have a choice about taking PE or not, I did not! I never showered there, and once a girl did, but I was so surprised, I screamed when I saw her and she did too! That was not nice of me, but I didn't mean anything. I was just so surprised.

    Now that I'm an adult, I do shower. It's good to get that salt off you as soon as possible. And especially if you've been swimming, you can wash away the germs from that. The gym I last was at, no one talked in the locker room. What I thought was weird was seeing the children changing. That felt strange. Now they have their very own locker room, and the women have a separate one. So I must not be the only one who feels weird about that. - 3/30/2015   9:44:52 PM
  • ERYNN2015
    No one ever used the showers at my school. Now as an adult, when I'm at the pool or gym, I change in the stalls. I'm not embarrassed of my body or anything..... I'm just not comfortable with changing out in the open. When I'm out with my sisters or friends clothes shopping, I have no problem changing in front of them. I guess I just don't like changing in front of strangers. I've never given it much thought. I've just always been that way. I don't mind others using the changing the room, it's just not for me. To each their own, I guess. - 3/12/2015   6:33:54 PM
  • 838
    The trick is not to care.
    Once you make peace with your body, you realize it doesn't matter.
    I could care less if I see someone naked, and I could care less if someone else sees me naked. I'm morbidly obese, so it isn't like I'm particularly proud of my body, but I'm not concerned about what anyone thinks about it either. Between the military and my stint in healthcare, a naked body is just a naked body to me, whether mine or someone else's. I may be an introvert, but I don't care enough about other people's opinions to be self-conscious.
    - 2/18/2015   8:37:21 AM
  • 837
    Maybe a bit of a generational thing. I'm 58 and in my high school we were required to shower. If you were "on your monthly" you were allowed a private shower but you had to tell the gym teacher and she marked it down so you couldn't get away with "cheating". We undressed at our lockers and walked (usually covering ourselves with our little towels, to this walk-through shower. You'd hold the towel up over your head and walk through a series of sprayers. I can't remember how long it was anymore but if I had to guess, I'd say maybe 20 or so feet. Then you'd cover up again and walk to your locker where you'd towel dry and put on your clothes. I find that I'm OK with changing in my gym's locker room (and I'm about 60 pounds overweight so it's not like I want to flaunt myself!). I'm uncomfortable with women walking around naked, though. At my current gym no one does that but at my last gym a lot of women did. That last gym had a younger and far more physically fit crowd so maybe they felt "if you've got it, flaunt it". - 2/6/2015   1:55:16 PM
  • 836
    Me too!

    I recently bit the bullet and decided not to follow the status quo, but change in one of the only two cubicles available. The one next door immediately filled and when I came out, there was a small queue! Everyone seems to feel awkward, but that we shouldn't be because no one else is. Not true - change how and when you want, none of this peer pressure nonsense.

    Thanks for sharing! - 1/16/2015   11:13:55 AM
  • 835
    Thanks for posting this article and everyone's comments! I thought I was the only one who felt this way! When I look around the locker room I always feel so insecure and it seems like everyone is so beautiful compared to me. I've lost about 100 lbs at this point and I'm so embarrased by how my skin has stretched out. I guess it would help if I tried not to look at the other women but it's impossible not to see them. I feel like I need to stay and take a shower because I get sweaty in the gym. I need to build my self confidence but sometimes it feels like I'm just the ugliest one there. I hate the locker room and it's the worst part of the gym for me. - 12/31/2014   11:14:43 AM
  • 834
    I do not think it is a generational thing, it is just your own personal comfort level and maybe it comes from what you are used to. I say each to their own, if you like to go undercover to change that is fine and nothing wrong with it and if you like to let it all hangout just know that I wont be using a locker near you. My mother was ok with hanging it all out but she grew up with a house full of sisters that all shared bedrooms. I had sisters but had my own room and so I am like it more private.

    I do use the showers but I go with a spray disinfectant for the floor and my clothing to change into.

    So no, you are not alone, there are a lot of us out there that love a private dressing area. - 12/13/2014   1:56:04 AM
  • 833
    Well, now I feel really strange. I don't mind my out of shape, or is it lot of shape, body showing in the locker room. My problem is I just don't know the etiquette of changing in the locker room. How to figure this out? Suggestions would be good. Thanks in advance. - 12/6/2014   11:33:09 PM
  • 832
    I guess I am with you, I am probably of your parents generation, and we never changed in the locker room with others, there were individual shower cubes and we changed in them after showering, we were required to shower after gym. I don't go to a gym, there are not any in my area without a long drive but I would not undress in front of others. I find that the way a lot of young people with half their chests hanging out to be embarrassment enough without stripping in front of a bunch of people. It has nothing to do with how I view my body, good or bad, just the feeling that my body is my business not everyone else's to view. I don't mind running around the house not completely clothed, but not in public. - 12/4/2014   1:57:01 PM
  • 831
    ditto! Then again I felt that way in school. Girls can sometime be worse than the guys. You have to have fancy matching this and that... Now those cameras used in an area that they don't belong anymore have become a threat to a persons peace of mind. Too bad they can't be blocked. - 11/25/2014   8:02:25 PM
  • HILLSLUG98239
    When I was a kid, it used to annoy me when the camp counselors would go into the bathroom to change. We were all girls. Yes, they were more developed than us, but I thought it was weird that they would change in private when the rest of us had to change in the presence of others.

    So, when I became I a camp counselor, I changed in front of the girls. I was hoping it would send the message there's nothing weird or unusual about our bodies. I wanted to "demystify" the female body.

    One of the other women counselors told me she overheard one of "my" girls telling another girl, "Kim's not afraid to take her clothes off in front of anyone - probably not even boys!"

    I'm modest - I try to keep myself covered when I'm walking around in the locker room. But I don't try to hide my scarred, flabby, middle-aged body. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and each of us has our own inherent beauty.

    But if you're uncomfortable gettin' nekkid, that's okay, too. Why worry about it? You're certainly not harming me. I wish you would be more confident, but I have no desire to see more naked people, either. - 11/25/2014   7:59:21 PM
  • 829
    I'm with you, Coach Nicole. - 11/25/2014   5:05:29 PM
  • 828
    I use to be exactly like this. In HS I never changed in front of other women. They were just awful and vicious toward me outside the locker room so I avoided that whole situation. That coupled with the fact I was brought up with a somewhat of a religious family. It wasn't until I was older and I was a nurse that I could give a whoooot less because we are all truly the same inside an out. and The fact that I have a bit of extra flesh on me well I am in great company with most of the american population is overweight or obese. soooo what…. - 11/25/2014   4:57:30 PM

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