Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm jaded and you're beautiful, I'm deluded and I'm envious of you

Photo courtesy of domo arigato on Flickr

While changing after my workout at the gym today, I got to thinking. At the gym or the swimming pool, no matter where it is, the change room is an interesting place. I awkwardly tried to keep myself covered with a giant towel as I very quickly put my clothes on after emerging from the shower. I couldn't help but notice all of the other bodies around me. The vast majority of them were gloriously imperfect, not to mention naked as jay birds. Many of the women were older than me. Some had breasts that drooped towards their waists, their nipples pointing towards the floor. Lots of them had cellulite or stretch marks or both. Why was I standing there, so ashamed of my own body, so afraid to expose myself? Why couldn't I remove the image of what I think I should look like from my head? What did I think that these other women expected me to look like? Why did I think it mattered to them? I wondered if I could ever be fully naked in a room where nakedness is not a big deal. I wondered why I couldn't imagine feeling comfortable showing it all off in there. Whose judgement was I afraid of, anyway? Even as a teenager, when I was changing for gym class or basketball practise, I always went into a stall, never feeling confident enough to peel my clothes off where anyone could see me. Other girls were quite content to parade around in the buff. I, on the other hand, was too shy even to stand around in my bra and underwear in front of the other girls. I'm not sure exactly what it was, or continues to be, about that situation that makes me anxious. Is it the same for guys? My buddies who play hockey have been showering together since they were little boys and seem to have no qualms about stripping down in front of their friends or other male strangers.
Would I feel differently if I had a perfect, little size two frame? There have certainly been moments, and situations with certain people who make me feel good, that I have felt comfortable with my body and my nakedness. Most days, I would give up my breasts in an instant, if only I could just be really tiny. As I stood in that change room this afternoon, self critical and uncomfortable amongst these confident, beautiful, uninhibited women, I wished more than anything that I could be more like them.


Keira-Anne said...

The grass is always greener on the other side. I wouldn't be terribly upset at the idea of having 'C' cups.

But then, you have to look at the girls with size zero waists and big breasts...are they really and truly happy in every way? I'm quite sure they have their own issues they struggle with.

Body perception is something that will never be finite. The ideals will always change and what was considered "the most attractive" yesterday is different from what will be idolized tomorrow.

Unfortunately, unrealistic body standards will never be a thing of the past. The most difficult part of that pill to swallow, I believe, is the fact that each of us is responsible for finding our own body confidence. If we rely on someone else's ideal for us, we will never, ever be satisfied with the bodies we rock.

PatZ said...

i think the best thing i heard today was after our intramural soccer game when we were putting out street clothes back on and our buddy Richard looks around the locker room and goes "it stinks in here, don't you think it stinks in here?"

and yeah, it can be the same for guys. i never really felt comfortable in a locker room until last year when I kind of decided it's just one of those things you need to put up with at certain points, so you either do it or you don't.

although, it also helps when there aren't huge guys on the football team chasing you around in there. which could be awkward. or hilarious. depending on your point of view.

Jennifer Stoddart said...

You're very right, Keira. I couldn't agree more. I've always thought that they key is finding the beauty in what we have. Doing so on a regular basis, at least for me, has always been more of a challenge than I'd like to admit though. Some days, I can rock it, other days, not so much. I am definitely my own worst critic. I suppose that's true for most people.

Keira-Anne said...

That's because the "bad stuff" is always easier to believe. It's how we're conditioned.

J @ said...

This reminds me of the Sex and the City episode when Charlotte is in the changing room!

I would trade my boobs to be tiny in a minute as well.

Jennifer Stoddart said...

haha. That's true, J. I feel exactly like Charlotte in that episode with the sauna when I'm in the changing room!

Scott said...

>> Is it the same for guys?

It can be just as much. I used to hate changing and shower rooms when I was younger to the extent that I avoided them when all possible.

Ironically though, I stopped caring so much after a couple of times going to the bath houses and hot springs here in Japan -- and in those places as a foreigner, you are REALLY stared at, INTENSELY. I can't count how many times I have had an old man sit next to me making nonchalant comments about my penis. It's almost like when people actually acted out my worse case scenario I had worked out in my head, it really wasn't so bad. That, and I knew it wouldn't ever be any worse. Funny how those things work.