I have always been a private person when it comes to showing my flesh. Okay, let me rephrase that. Except for the time when I was in college and miniskirts were the rage, I have always been averse to showing my flesh. For nearly thirty years I lived in San Antonio without ever owning a sundress in a place where summer temps (summer started in April and ended in November) hovered around the 100-degree mark. So changing in the locker room at the Y is not on my list of favorite things to do. I usually (okay, always) arrive already dressed for working out, stuff my coat and purse in a locker, and head to the exercise room. When I return to the locker room, I simply retrieve my things and go home to shower and change.
I seem to be an exception, though. Most of the women at my Y shower and change there, especially if they’ve been in the pool. I’m never sure where I’m supposed to look when they start talking to me and they are standing there stark naked. I pretend I’m looking for something in my purse, or I bend down to retie my shoes, or use another diversionary tactic. “Wow! Would you just look at these nails? I need to schedule a manicure, don’t I?”
If I’m not being addressed, I can keep my head down and eyes averted, with just a glimpse of jiggling bodies caught in my peripheral vision. I wonder why it seems easier for most men to not be bothered by nakedness? (I mean of other men, of course! They would certainly be hot and bothered by female nudity, I’m assuming.) Are they that much more secure with their self image? Do most of them really see themselves as studs, or do the years not wreak havoc with their bodies like they do with ours? I know it is more than a matter of perception; it is a matter of culture. As men age, we hear how they become distinguished looking. Distinguished is not an adjective I hear in connection with us women as we age. Maybe that’s why we try so hard to mitigate the signs of aging by working out and trying every wrinkle cream on the market.
I heard the following interchange in the locker room at the Y the other day. I don’t know what these ladies looked like because my head was down, as usual, but they sounded young.
First lady: “ I’m working on my triceps so I won’t get those saggy old lady arms.”
Second lady: “I hear you. I call those Esther arms. The back of my aunt Esther’s arms sagged so much she looked like she was wearing a cape. When she raised her arms and spun around too quick, she could take out several small children in a single spin.”
The next day, I used extra heavy weights in my workout.