Lea Goldman of Marie Claire is "baffled, even horrified, by women who treat the locker room like their own sandalwood-scented boudoir," and I am baffled, even horrified, by the way she talks about said women.

Goldman, who admits that she wasn't raised in a "naked home," and that she still finds "the bare female form pretty foreign," just wants everyone in the dressing room to cover themselves up, as the sight of her fellow gym patrons in the nip offends her sensibilities:

As I scampered from the shower to my locker, clutching a threadbare gym-issued towel barely wide enough to cover me, I caught sight of a doughy naked woman, her nipples the size of salami slices, holding aloft a compact as she carefully plucked her eyebrows. I was so distracted by her brazen nudity - by the boobs, folds, moles, and thatch - that I walked right into an open locker door, prompting the kind of woozy spell that, had I been a cartoon character, would have been accompanied by chirping birds.

Ah yes, the "doughy naked woman" with large nipples. God forbid she dare to pluck her eyebrows (a beauty standard pushed by magazines like...Marie Claire) naked. Who the hell does she think she is, not having a body like Angelina Jolie and being comfortable enough with herself and her naked body to take care of her damn unibrow with her apparently not-Lea-Goldman-approved boobs hanging out? The nerve of some people!

Goldman goes on to describe the other horrors she's witnessed in the locker room: women clipping their toenails (quelle horreur!), brushing their teeth (dental hygiene! Disgusting!), and watching women "slather lotion on their haunches like they were being filmed for the Spice Channel." What Goldman fails to realize is that the women in the locker room are merely lotioning their legs: the seedy Spice Channel aspect of it is a product of her own imagination, which apparently goes into overdrive the second she steps into the ladies room. "The locker room is no place for that kind of preening," Goldman argues. Then what the hell is the locker room for?

I will admit that I've always been shy in public changing rooms: I am the kind of person who mastered the ol' bra-switcheroo-through-the-shirt-arm-hole as soon as I was old enough to wear a bra, and who often changed for swim meets or softball games in the privacy of the bathroom stall, instead of changing in front of my teammates. But my shyness was the product of my own body image insecurities: I was always afraid I didn't match up to my teammates (and that they would mock me, like Goldman does to her fellow patrons).

However, as I got older and left the high school locker rooms for swankier gyms, I was forced to face my fears and share locker room space with women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Seeing other people walk around naked is weird, yes, but over time I began to view the women who walked around naked as confident and secure: they didn't really give a shit what I thought about them, and I admired that. After a while, I didn't think about them at all; they were just other patrons, going about their business, and I suspected that they felt the same about me. I still do the bra switcheroo at times, but I'm working on it.


Goldman claims she hasn't made peace with her body yet, and that, I think, is why she feels the need to tear down the bodies of others (and why she assigns such disgust to everyday tasks like brushing one's teeth or putting lotion on one's legs). I suspect that Goldman's disgust, in the end, is really a misplaced jealousy: she cuts these women down so brutally because she envies the fact that they aren't as horrified by their bodies or the less glamorous aspects of personal grooming as she is. Goldman wants everyone else to cover themselves up for her own benefit, but it would be much more beneficial if she got over herself and realized that her attitude toward fellow women was more "horrifying" than anything she could possibly see in a locker room.

Bare Naked Ladies [Marie Claire]