To The Woman At Equinox Who Blow Dries Her Hair While Topless:

by anna on February 18, 2009

Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. Generally, when I’m in the gym locker room, I pass by people quickly, avoiding eye contact and any other forms of personal interaction. As a policy, I like to “smile at the room,” or to maintain a universally targeted, generalized, friendly-but-unspecific smile of acknowledgment, just to reassure everyone that I’m not, you know, weird. Because, to me, the gym locker room is among the most uncomfortable of places in life to spend time. It’s a necessary evil, but I don’t care if you’re 13 or 63, it’s just plain uncomfortable to undress in front of strangers. I’m sure some people enjoy it. I’m sure because I’ve seen them. Enjoying it. But for most of us–generally speaking, again–it’s kind of embarrassing. I would even go so far as to say that society has been designed this way, to encourage this uncomfortable feeling whilst being naked in front of people you don’t know. Because if it were more fun, we would want to walk around naked all the time, right? And that could lead to a lot of unnecessary cases of frostbite. Or sunburn. Depending upon your local climate.

I digress. Back to the gym locker room: so there’s nowhere you can go to avoid this uncomfortable nudity. Nay! not only must you engage in it, you must also pretend to be OK with not only your own conspicuous nudity, but the unfortunate nudity of others. Because unless you want to walk into one of the bathroom stalls, there’s no way to change into your workout gear in private. And going into the bathroom stalls to change would mark you as a freak, let’s face it. So the whole process of getting ready to work out is a kind of tightrope walking situation for all of us. I get that.

So anyway, what I do is, I find the least-populated cache of lockers, and then I put my stuff away, and proceed to engage in the undressing-in-a-locker-room dance that I invented and quickly perfected back in Ms. Mueli’s sixth grade PE class. This is a specialized dance in which all precautions are taken to ensure that the least amount of skin and cellulite is shown to the smallest number of people. Sure, the dance has been changed over the years–I don’t, for example, remove my bra through the sleeve of my t-shirt anymore, and obviously I don’t refuse to shower after working out anymore.

But, all that aside, I’d still rather not show you my bare naked ass if I can avoid it. No offense.

This brings me to my original point. You. Dressed from the waist down in mom jeans and ballerina flats, and completely naked on top. Nary a bra to be found! What’s that about, I wonder? See, if you wore a bra while you were blow drying your hair, I might let it slide. I’d still be uncomfortable–sure, call me a prude if it makes you feel better–but I’d be willing to accept the possibility that maybe, maybe you were doing it to keep your shirt/blouse/top from getting wet. Even if said shirt/blouse/top is a sweatshirt with licensed characters on it, I would still extend you that courtesy, because that would at least make logical sense. But the complete lack of clothing, including support wear on top, contrasted with the completely dressed bottom, is what makes this explanation difficult for me to swallow.

Why? Why? do you do it? Your boobs are really not all that great, by the way. Not that it matters. You could have the best boobs in the world and I’d still wonder. Because it’s not like we’re in the men’s locker room. Now, it’s true that roughly 10% of the population in the women’s locker room is likely to be interested in seeing boobs in a non-utilitarian context. I will give you that. But you’re still playing for a 90% uninterested crowd (at best).

And don’t talk to me about comfort, because regardless of size, I refuse to believe that having your boobs flapping in the wind with each round-brush stroke is comfortable. You see, I have boobs myself. And the reason they had to invent sports bras was because of the specifically uncomfortable feeling that having your boobs bounce around gives you.

So, what gives? And–more to the point, how would you like me to deal with you? Should I just pretend to not be embarrassed about the whole situation, like I do with the full-frontal women, the ones who gratuitously who walk around totally naked? The women who think, “Oh, I need to wash my hands, better walk down to the sink completely butt naked to do so”–those women? Do you class yourself with them? Because, yes, they are embarrassing–horrendously so, in fact–but at least I know what to do with them. You are confusing to me, you see. They don’t usually try to have conversations with me. They are just in it for pure exhibitionism. But you, you expect some kind of interaction, and I’m not sure I can give it to you. Until you put a shirt on.

Thank you for your time and prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Anna

{ 20 comments }

bessie.viola February 18, 2009 at 8:07 am

OMG! This is too, too much.

And also why I have never, NEVER dealt with a gym locker room since high school. The stress – oh, the stress. Thank God I went to school back before digital cameras were common… my little sister who’s 18 has told me stories that make me so, so thankful for that.

And AMEN to sports bras! Contain the wiggle!

~Monkey February 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

Honestly, who cares about this? I have done both the with the bra and the without a bra. With a towel around my waist and with a towel wrapped over my chest. Neither is more comfortable for me than the other, and for the record, I have E cup breasts. As long as someone isn’t being unhygienic… ie. sitting bare-assed on a public bench, what does it matter?
Are these rules that need to be followed? Are you that uneasy at seeing a body that isn’t yours? Are you that preoccupied with what you have decided other people in the gym thing? Go in the bathroom if you have that much shame about your body. If I see someong go in, I thinkg a) they must be modest or b) they want some privacy c) perhaps they need to pee or d) I don’t notice at all. It’s not a judgment on them as a human, and even if it is, why in the hell should they care what I think? Why should I care what they think?

I am entirely sure than every woman gay, straight or otherwise is perfectly aware of the relative firmness or awesomeness of their breasts…and has either made a decision to a) shamefully hide a body that is NORMAL, average, or beautiful in its difference or b) grow the hell up, get dressed in the way that makes them comfortable, and not continue the cycle of shame over normality. I am a normal healthy woman. I wear a size 16. I am trying to be healthier, stronger and fitter. I refuse to be ashamed about the fat on my ass in the meantime because you have a problem with the fat on your ass. As long as I’m not shaking my tits in your personal space…grow the hell up. I wish we could all stop internalizing the self-hate that the rest of society puts on women.

NGS February 18, 2009 at 10:04 am

You get hot when you are blow drying your hair. Then you sweat. On your bra AND on your shirt. So….I don’t wear a shirt while blow drying my hair either. I’m sorry you are uncomfortable by this, but if you indeed are avoiding eye contact and personal interaction, why do you think you have to interact with this woman at all?

And, frankly, I don’ t think the women walking around naked are doing it for exhibitionism. There are lots of reasons not to get dressed right away. Maybe your towel isn’t quite big enough. Damn those tiny lockers. Maybe you are still warm because of the working out/showering and you want to stop sweating before you put on clothes. Maybe you are waiting for your lotion to stop being oily before you put on your clothes. I think you’re being a bit harsh here.

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crazylovescompany February 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

Yeah, I’m just in and out of the locker room. When I went to the gym that is. Now it’s not so much. Everyone has their system.

Oooh, hot topic Anna!

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Amy February 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

I don’t necessarily enjoy nudity in the locker room, but I’m not uncomfortable with it. I once lent my hairdryer to a completely naked woman who’d forgotten her towel so she could dry herself off. I’m pretty comfortable with my own body (and have been even when heavier) and have blow-dried my hair topless (usually I do put on a bra, but not always), and walk to the showers naked (no towel wrapped around me, don’t want to get the stinky sweat on my clean towel). The only thing that’s icky is naked bench sitters.

I don’t know if I feel quite as strongly about your post as a previous commenter, but I think that most (not all) of the women I know are not embarrassed to be naked in the locker room. (In fact the only time I am more careful to stay covered is when I’m there with my one friend that feels the same way as you.)

I don’t feel that you need chastising or anything (again, like that previous commenter seems to), but I’ve never understood why it has to be an uncomfortable thing to see naked people and be naked in front of other people. :) Of course, maybe I’m just a little crazy. That is a real possibility.

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Becca February 18, 2009 at 10:44 am

Licensed characters? On an adult woman? I think that’s the bigger eyebrow raiser here.

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bessie.viola February 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Wow, I must be a huge prude. I’ve seen my share of boobies and I’ve done my half-naked time in the presence of others, but I’d just… rather not. It’s not that I don’t think women are beautiful – I’m the first to hate on society’s standards of untouchable beauty.

I’m just… not comfortable with nudity. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing. ;)

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3carnations February 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm

People who do things like that put the rest of us (the “rest of us” being people who avoid being naked in public at all costs) look bad. :)

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anna February 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Sure, call me an insecure prude! I’ll admit it . . . but hath not an insecure prude eyes? If you prick her, does she not bleed? :)

I didn’t mean to imply, I should point out, that this has anything to do with the relative beauty or lack thereof of these bodies. It’s just the bodies themselves, and yeah, in a perfect world I’d be totally accepting of nudity, but . . . I dunno. It still makes me uncomfortable, after all these years.

Oh and by the way–there are people at the spa who wear bathing suits into the jacuzzi, so I know that I’m not alone and that–in fact–there are people who are far more intolerant than I!

carrie February 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I kirtsy’d this. So funny.

pamela February 18, 2009 at 6:28 pm

oh dear. that’s a lot to think about right there.
i’m a girl who has a considerable amount of boobage, and personally, i prefer to keep them off the rest of me while i’m blow drying, walking around, washing my hands, if only for the sweat factor. sweaty boobs resting on anything only makes more sweat. even sweaty boobs fresh from the shower.

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anna February 18, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Right, well, the bra allows for that as well as adequate ventilation. I will grant that I hadn’t anticipated the heat question: but I still think that wearing a bra addresses that issue.

I mean it’s not a moral imperative, it’s just odd. It’s odd to talk to somebody wearing no shirt, but wearing pants and shoes, and have their boobs bouncing around at you.

rebecca February 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I know all the enlightened arguments and wish I were one such woman. I put up the front (see? the pun there?), but I can barely put on a bathing suit in front of anyone outside of my immediate family and other mothers. Let’s face it, the gym locker room isn’t for everyone and now, thanks to your comment section, I will also be worried about covert photography.

rebecca´s last blog post..Daisy Died :-(

Michele February 19, 2009 at 8:40 am

I would have written a post about the same thing had I seen it. I would have acted the whole scenario out for my husband. It would seem oddball to me too that she dressed from the waist down. Clearly this lady thinks that the communal sink area is her private bathroom. Since it is her own “private bathroom” she shold be completely nude or wear a robe. I’ve noticed that some people are like that: they are around other people in whatever situation (shopping in a shoe aisle right on top of you talking on phone loudly) and they think they are in their own home. Or maybe she is thinking that she pays a lot for the gym and so by golly she is going to use every amenity there and pretend it is her own spa.

Laurie February 19, 2009 at 9:53 am

I’m with you. The lights are just too bright and there are mirrors everywhere for extreme nudity to be cool. I wish more people would learn the undressing-in-a-locker-room dance move of backing one’s bare ass into one’s open locker for bending maneuvers rather than sticking it in someone else’s direction, especially someone just inches away. (I’ve been ass-bumped on the shoulder!) And don’t get me started on sharing the jacuzzi with those who do so sans swimsuit. It’s like taking a bath with someone, which is just eew.

becky February 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

Whoa whoa, so the people who have gym-mates who use the hot tub sans suit: I’m guessing the jacuzzi is inside the locker room perimeter? At my gym (Lifetime), the hot tubs are out in the coed areas, though there’s a sauna and a steamroom inside the locker room. I haven’t seen anyone absolutely naked in either of those areas, but there is a sign that says “No shaving.” Um, okay!

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AKD February 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I’m with Pamela on the sweaty boobs issue. If you don’t get those suckers into a bra in the first 10-15 minutes after a shower, you almost have to shower again.
I don’t feel comfortable doing it myself, but I don’t mind people walking around naked in the locker room. In fact I think it’s good for us to see the variety of women’s bodies out there especially as we get older. Most people do not look like Kate Winslet naked, and it’s good to have a reminder of that.

LY /PauvrePlume February 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Whoa. Will now out myself as having zero boobage when I sag that I honestly have never heard about SBS (Sweaty Boob Syndrome)!!!

Makes total sense, though (the sweaty boobs, AND the need to air those suckers out while blow-drying).

I’m one of those sickos who leaves the gym in my sweaty clothes and races home to shower/change. Talk about avoidance.
haha

LY /PauvrePlume´s last blog post..Skunks, Phone Sex, and a Homecoming Drag Queen. Happy Friday.

Tina February 23, 2009 at 3:30 am

My tale of woe is worse than top naked blowdryer…my gym’s 7o year old exhibitionist sports full naked nail clipping (toes), plucking of various locations, hair drying (also of various locations)…and always chooses to use the open six person shower stall when the 10 year old swimmers emerge from the pool rather than the single shower with a private bench and two curtains. I’m most uncomfortable when I am tying my shoe and her toes are inches from my face. Isn’t that what the privacy of our homes are for?

peggy February 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Hi Anna…first time reader here stopping by to say hi!

I’m with you on the locker room subject…can’t your blowdrying friend simply throw a robe on? It has to be some sort of exhibitionist tendency.

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