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Friday, December 9, 2011

time changes everything

So does money, but that's another post. But since I've got the song stuck in my head now, here ya go.

Okay! Now that I have that out of my system...

Anytime you come across a list of anyone's gym pet peeves, you can be pretty sure "old men in the locker room" is one of them. Specifically, the fact that the old men walk around stark naked having long involved conversations in the nude, sit their unclothed persons directly on the benches, and (apparently!) use the gym hairdryers to blow dry their balls. To wit:

Now, I have no experience of men's locker rooms (shut up), but my experience in women's locker rooms is much the same, if a little less drastic. The old ladies are not shy about walking around in a towel or less. In fact, there is probably a directly inverse association between how aesthetic one's body is by societal standards and degree of modesty in the locker room. Most of the teen aged and very young women won't change in the open--they either arrive at the gym fully dressed to work out or they change in a booth or a toilet stall. Most late 20s to early 50s gym goers will change in the open, but very discreetly and quickly, directly facing their locker. Then somewhere around late middle age, something seems to click and the "walking from one's locker to the showers in nothing but flipflops" stage begins. I myself haven't reached that stage yet, but I do find myself lingering more in my underwear without self-consciousness than I used to, so god knows, I'm probably headed in that direction.

And I've been thinking a little about why that is. Why, when you're in the full flower of your youth, with a body that is probably as close to "flawless" as it's ever going to get, are you so self-conscious about other people seeing it as is? Why, after everything possible has wrinkled, sagged, and developed truly fascinating levels of cellulite (sorry, but you put it out there, I'ma see it and be fascinated by it, yo), are you totally unfazed by other people looking? Well, kids, as about many many things, I have developed my own theory.

My theory is this: when you are 20, you can look at all those images in the media--the actresses and models and pop stars, all photoshopped within an inch of their lives--and think that, not only would it be possible for you to look like that, but that you SHOULD look like that. And because, as lovely as you are, you don't--not having a magical photoshop force field around you, for one thing--you feel shame and embarrassment about your body. You don't want anyone seeing the parts of you that you dislike without an opportunity for you to somehow camouflage them.

To take this out of the gym realm and provide you with one of my trademarked boring personal anecdotes (you're welcome!), when *I* was twenty, I surprised my future ex-husband on his birthday by waiting for him to get home from work dressed in nothing but satin tap pants, heels, and a long string of pearls. (It was the 80s, so again, shut up.) I was so self-conscious about that part of my body I most disliked (thighs, of course) that I would not completely expose them in daylight even in seducing someone who frankly had seen them many times before. And whose 23 year old brain was only going to register mostly nekkid chick...indicating she wants sex...awesome! anyway. Crazypants, I know.

But that kind of thing fades over time in most of us, leading ultimately to grandma making dinner plans with her friends while nekkid outside the sauna. Judging only from my own experience, I think it is because as time goes on and you see the inevitable changes in your body brought about by time (and for women, perhaps pregnancy), you realize you will not and cannot look like those images in the media. It's just not possible, who could expect that of you? So you stop expecting it of yourself. And you stop being so ashamed that you don't meet that standard. Oh, you might still unfortunately hate some or all of your body, but you stop caring so much who sees it because, Jesus Christ, how can they *expect* you to look like Megan Fox, you're 49! (or 59 or 79).

I don't know how to explain the testicle blow drying, however. I'll leave that to another blogger smarter than me.



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  3. Let's try this for the THIRD time. Perhaps I should only read and not comment when I am upset but I can't help it. When somebody goes to so much trouble to write and I get so much out of it, it seems ungracious not to express my gratitude and appreciation in some manner. Hmmyeah, gratuitous sharing of personal philosophy.
    THIS is what I've been trying to say:
    ok, if there was EVER a snowball's chance in hell of my going to a gym, you just shot THAT possibility to hell! I'm probably going to perseverate on that image for the rest of the day.
    Come to think of it, it will be a good distraction from the REAL nauseating event that is going on in my life at the moment, so THANK YOU!