I often go to the gym straight from work which means I need to change into my workout clothes once I get there. I just recently discovered that in the shower area of the girls locker room there are three changing stalls with a curtain you can close for privacy. I must admit, I am still shy when it comes to getting changed in a public dressing room.
I know that it stems from my teenage years when getting changed for gym class was biweekly torture. I was heavier than a lot of the girls in my class and extremely self conscious about my body. Some girls pranced around like they were auditioning for a chance to live at the Playboy mansion. The rest of us changed as quickly as possible using every trick in the book to remove as little clothing in the process of changing into our gym clothes.
I remember in eighth grade they made it mandatory for us to take a shower after gym class. I would have preferred to smell like BO for the rest of the day. A bunch of pubescent girls bathing in less than private shower stalls…whose brilliant idea was that?.
Eighth grade also introduced swimming to our gym class curriculum. I have always been a good swimmer and I love swimming. However, I would have rather gouged my eyeballs out with an ice pick than (a.) change into a bathing suit in front of my female classmates and (b.) jump into a swimming pool in said bathing suit amongst not only the girls but the boys as well. Seriously? Needless to say I came up with my own coping mechanism…skip gym class. I found numerous ways to get out of swimming including pink eye, menstrual cramps, my period, just got a perm the day before and the list goes on.
The beauty was that the makeup classes simply involved swimming 20 laps after school; piece of cake for me. There was usually no one there but the swim team and they were too busy to pay any mind to me. One day the swim team coach actually approached me and asked me to please consider trying out for the swim team. To this day I could kick myself for passing up that opportunity. I did not try out for the swim team because I was too embarrassed of my body. If only I knew then what I know now. This is what I would tell the fourteen year old me:
“Aimee do it. You will make friends, good friends probably, and you will be doing something wonderful for your body. You will likely lose weight naturally simply by exercising more often. You will also gain a new appreciation for your self image because you will see how strong your body is and what it is capable of. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks. They all have insecurities right now too.”
These days I have no problem changing my clothes in an open locker room if I have to. I don’t have the same fears and insecurities just an awkward feeling at times. For instance there is one adorable elderly lady who loves to talk my ear off while I’m changing and she insists on making eye contact. So sometimes I do find myself heading to the curtained changing areas at my gym now. It simply makes me more comfortable to change in private.
I’ve come a long way though. The teenage me would have never even gone to the gym. She certainly wouldn’t have run in public. I know for a fact she would not have been caught dead on the beach in an actual bathing suit on her recent vacation. It has been a long process and slowly but surely I am learning to love the skin I’m in no matter what the number on the scale.