Exposure and the single-sex changing room

02/03/2011 at 4:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As a teenager I was terribly shy in changing rooms – even to the extent that I used to wear my aertex underneath my school blouse so I wouldn’t have to strip off in front of my schoolmates. This only changed when I went to Budapest for six months and realised how unselfconscious older Hungarian women were in all-female environments. I noticed the same atmosphere when I went to a hammam in Turkey. I haven’t looked back since. I was surprised when, last week , I was left dripping and shivering outside the shower cubicle for 5 minutes while a fellow-swimmer got dressed in there. She was dressed modestly when she emerged, but the changing cubicles were about 4 seconds away and I simply can’t see how a few seconds wearing just her towel in an exclusively female environment could be worth leaving a queue of people outside the showers. Perhaps she didn’t realise what was happening until she was face to face with me, but she didn’t take up the opportunity to apologise.

In this instance, there were only females in the changing room, but of course women’s changing rooms don’t always just contain women. I do sympathise with parents who take children of the opposite sex swimming. My own feeling is that if they are too young to get changed on their own, they’re probably young enough to be around adults of the opposite sex not wearing anything. But some parents are protective of their children up to a high age and some changers very uncomfortable in the presence of really quite young children. Ironmonger Row swimming baths used to have signs asking users to ‘cover up’ when showering, I presume for this reason. I don’t have any answers for this one and I’m aware it’s a sensitive topic. But if your kids do want to get changed in private, please can you get them out of the shower first? Thank you…

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