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.