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Men Being 'Stark Naked' In Swim School Change Rooms Used To Make Me Uncomfortable

A woman has divided opinion after she complained about a man stripping down outside a cubicle in the local swimming pool change rooms. 

The UK mum was in the male change room herself, choosing this as the best option to take her two boys to dress because the female change room  --according to her -- are overcrowded. 

The woman, who posted on parenting for mums, Mumsnet, believed the dad was inappropriate for getting “stark naked" in front of his own two daughters who were also in the change room. 

She questioned: “Why would any adult get naked in a dressing room at a swim lesson for children with strangers around.” 

“There were cubicles. He could have used a towel as well." 

While the response to this incident rages on across social media, for me personally as a mum of two daughters, I can see both sides because I once shared this mum’s view.  

While in a family change room at our local swimming lesson centre (not a public pool) I would often find myself around fathers or other grown men who had accompanied their child or a child to swimming lessons.

They would undress, shower and dress again in the change room. Yes, while this was completely expected given it was a change room, it was the often very nonchalant and lengthy time it took for them to complete the process while being in their birthday suit that seemed a little unnecessary

My view was that this was a facility for children’s swimming lessons, not a footy locker-room. So why don’t they just get on with it? But one day, quite unexpectedly, my view changed. 

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While in the family change room -- which we preferred to use because like the UK mum at the centre of this current debate, the women’s facility was always very crowded -- we were again in the presence of a naked man and in this case, his naked family. 

The father of two, who had accompanied his daughter for a lesson was naked, she was also naked and his son who was about eight-years-old was naked too. They all stood under the showers together then once they were finished, walked naked across the room in front on myself and my two daughters to their towels. 

My eldest daughter (four at the time) visibly noticed their nudity and began to stare. Although I diverted her attention away from them to not be rude, I later thought I better have a chat to her about when it is and isn’t polite to stare.  

Shona and her eldest daughter. Image: Getty

But perhaps serendipitously, our discussion became more in depth than how long is too long to look at a naked person.

Instead we ended up discussing nudity, when and where it is appropriate to be nude, who it is appropriate to be naked in front of, the differences in anatomy, how our bodies change as we grow and that everyones bodies are different and beautiful in their own way.  

But most importantly, we spoke about the fact that people share different opinions on being naked and that is perfectly okay too.  

“I don’t think I would want to shower naked in front of strangers,” my daughter said to me toward the end of our conversation.

“But in front of you and Dadda is okay." 

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And that I told her, was perfectly fine. She didn’t have to be like the family we had seen at the pool. She could just get dressed and shower at home if she chose but we would respect their choices too.  

As I said those words to her, realised that although it was my daughter who had stared at that family as they did what they thought to be perfectly normal and natural, it was me that had judged them for it. And it was with these wise words I had imparted on my daughter that I knew I had to also take on and model myself.

While my inherent opinion wasn’t from a nasty place or even from some self body insecurity of my own, it was clearly an attitude I had that I needed to work on, especially now as a parent. 

What I had told my four-year-old daughter was very true, bodies are all different. They are natural but like everything in life, there are always varying opinions and thoughts about nudity.

That is something we all need to be mindful of and respect.  

Featured image: Getty