I was getting changed for my swim at our local aquatic centre tonight. It was around 8:30pm, when the kids are done their Friday night swim and the adult lap swimmers arrive. There was a group of pre-teen girls with one mom in the change room at the same time as me. They were done changing and were gathering to leave.
I don’t hide my body when changing or showering in a public place. My first week as a varsity athlete at Western University cured me of that. Whatever body shyness I had was gone after experiencing the one big open shower room in Thames Hall!
Likewise tonight, I chose my locker and started stripping down. My bottom half was naked but my top was still covered, when I heard the mom say, “Avert your eyes, girls. That’s proper change room etiquette.”
I turned towards the group to see what she was referring to and suddenly realized she was talking about me.
I didn’t feel offended but I was quite surprised. She was probably trying to be polite and save me the perceived embarrassment of being stared at, not realizing that in that situation, I really don’t care who looks at me.
I pondered the “avert your eyes” comment during my swim, and thought, given the airbrushed perfection that our girls will see in media in their lifetime, wouldn’t we be better to encourage them to gaze upon the reality of the naked adult female bodies in their lives?
When I swim in the morning, I love the attitude of the retiree aquafit women who stride through the change room completely naked. I aspire to have that body confidence when I get to their age.
Cathy is a 54 year-old duathlete based in London, Ontario. When she’s not running and cycling, she’s a sole practitioner CPA and the co-manager of a family unit, aka a wife, and mom of two young adults