Saturday, June 04, 2011

In the Changing Room

Two weeks today, I will be doing the Great North Swim in Windermere in the Lake District - and more of that in my next post!

It's a mile in the lake and they insist that we wear wetsuits. Me, I'd be perfectly happy without a wetsuit - I'm fine in cold water, have swum in it just about all my life.

But, since they insist, I needed to practise swimming outdoors, wearing the wetsuit, as it takes a bit of getting used to.

So off we went this morning to Ilkley Lido, which is an open-air pool built in the 1930s. It's unheated but I love it and I spent a lot of time there as a child. There are some photos on the site I've linked to and I'd love to show you some photos of my own but they are absolutely strict that you can't take any, for fear of paedophiles. Sighhhh. Stephen got his phone out at one point to time my swimming - - and was immediately asked to put it away, as it has a camera on it.

The pool has one of those old-fashioned changing rooms where you put your clothes in a box and hand it over to an attendant (rather than the modern locker system.) I like the old-fashioned system.

However, because it was sunny today, the changing rooms were really busy and, as always, I marvelled at what goes on there.

There are three showers, each producing not much more than a trickle of water, so why Yummy Mummy decided it was a good idea to wash all her four daughters' hair I don't know. It took forever, and nobody enjoyed it. A stoical British queue stood patiently, waiting for the showers, whilst shampoo foam oozed along the floor and the daughters kept their eyes open whilst their hair was being washed, and then got shampoo in their eyes, and screamed, one by one, each one failing to learn from the example of her predecessor.

At the sink stood Little Miss Beauty Routine. I don't know if she WAS going straight from the swimming pool to the Grand Ball at the Palace, but that was the impression she gave. She cleansed, she toned, she moisturised. She applied a base coat and then a top coat and blusher and eyeliner and eyeshadow and lipstick and then she swept her hair into some elaborate style.

When I left, she hadn't even started struggling into her ballgown (or whatever she was planning to wear once she'd removed the swimsuit). I noted that she had by now spent longer on her beauty routine than I ever have, ever, for any occasion, ever. Hmmmm. I'm not sure if that says more about her or about me.

As I got dressed, the child in the next cubicle had clearly learned much from Stewie in Family Guy. She, however, had a variant on his "Mom - - Mom - - Mom - - Mom - - Mom" routine.

Her question was this.

"Mum, do I need to put my knickers on?"

Mum, for some reason, failed to reply.

"Mum, do I need to put my knickers on?"

No reply.

"Mum, do I need to put my knickers on?"


"Mum, do I need to put my knickers on?"

"Mum, do I need to put my knickers on?"

"Mum, do I need to put my knickers on?"

Oh! I was SO tempted to say "No, leave them off, give the paedophiles a treat" but I didn't want to be thrown out.

Her mother never did reply, possibly because she was now down the other end of the changing rooms, with the Exhibitionists.

I bet men think that you only get these in men's changing rooms, with men keen to demonstrate the size and perceived quality of their equipment to those less well-endowed.

Men are wrong. Women do it too.

Some women do the communal showers naked and I don't mind this at all. It's possible to be naked without emitting a "LOOK AT ME!!! I'M NAKED! NAKED! WITH NO CLOTHES ON! WOOOP WOOOP!" kind of vibe.

But some women are just keen to show off their bodies in the hope we'll be really impressed.

Some are the twenty-somethings who have been working on their Bikini Body all winter.

They don't just shower and leave, oh no. They sing, prance around, lather themselves - - but all in a way that's designed to show off their perfect bodies. There is always a subliminal message going on.

"Look at my BREASTS! COUNT THEM! For lo! I have TWO! Here's ONE - - and here's the OTHER! And now I am going to show you my LADYPARTS in all their GLORY!"

It's not just the perfect-size-tens who do this. You also sometimes get it from the Women of a Certain Age. Their message is different.

"You have NO IDEA how my body has suffered. For it has borne SEVEN CHILDREN and I have BREAST-FED THEM ALL. Let me demonstrate the effect that this has had on my poor old wrinkled body! For hey, I am PROUD and I am going to SHOW YOU, sisters."

I feel that the testosterone-fuelled competition in the men's changing rooms must be simplicity itself in comparison.


Blogger Silverback said...

It's completely different, Daphne, although Men Of A Certain Age (and weight) do have breasts that probably qualify them for your changing rooms.

Despite what you may see on tv shows, most men (ok then just me) prefer to keep their bits covered for fear of being judged harshly by others. Ironically it's this very fear that causes comparisons to be justified. Something to do with blood collecting in the legs to aid perceived flight !

You've painted very vivid mental images of the ladies changing rooms at Ilkley Baths. I may have to go for a lie down.

4:41 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

Well, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this post. OK, as my son would say, of course you can, and you will. Someday I'll learn correct ain't it!

First of all, the ringtone I have for above said grammar correcting son is the 'mom mom mommy' routine by Stewie himself. So, that made me think of him and smile.

Then, I could just picture AND hear Eddie Izzard doing every one of those shower scenarios. I do hope he reads your blog and makes a new video! It would be a smashing success.

I, myself, do not like to get naked in a communal setting. I have nightmares of dropping the soap, bending over to retrieve it, and having someone tread on my breast that would be dragging in the soapy river.....

4:57 pm  
Blogger aerate harsh ladle said...

Oh Daphne! What a magnificent post!

I do the 'naked communal shower thing' but only because a) I think it's healthier - hiding nakedness away just seems to encourage 'issues' and 'complexes' to me, and b) because it usually encourages the lingerers to get out and move on.

I know exactly what you mean about the show-offs. I comfort myself with the thought that there'll come a time when they look like me, so enjoy it while you can, luv, beauty's only skin deep after all!

6:17 pm  
Blogger Jennytc said...

"Oh! I was SO tempted to say "No, leave them off, give the paedophiles a treat" but I didn't want to be thrown out."
Love it, love it, love it! :)

7:42 pm  
Anonymous mumof4 said...

That is so true in the communal showers - every last word!! I always want to tell the nubile young 20 somethings to come back and prance around when they have had a few kids - but that makes me sound as bitter as the ones who show their pregnancy worn bodies with pride etc - and I hope I am neither.

I know Ilkley but didn't know they had a pool like that. Although being somewhat non UK resident, and also a bit dim this time on a morning I read it at first as one of those cut price supermarkets they have and then wondered why you would go swimming there!

8:49 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

When I lived in Japan teaching English I went to an onsen once (hot springs). These are sex-segregated and bathing takes place in the nude though you are given a flannel for modesty. Took a bit of getting used to.

Gym changing rooms back here in the UK are similar to how you've described them, in my experience. There are most definitely people who go out of their way to flaunt their nudity (often times when they really ought to know better).

In men's changing rooms it's actually less (I reckon) about the 'meat and 2 veg' and more about general body image, biceps, six-packs, etc, that men tend to like showing off. There also doesn't tend to be any kind of natural correlation between muscles/six-packs and... other bits.

Remember also that men tend to fall into one of two camps 'showers or growers'. Unsurprisingly, 'showers' quite often manifest peacock tendencies when naked in front of others.

10:31 pm  

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