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We Have to Get Naked

February 16, 2012

I have a question that’s been gnawing at me for nearly 25 years.  It relates to something that really traumatized me as a kid.

Before I go any further, let me just acknowledge that I throw around the word traumatized a bit too much — over things like my favorite TV show Square Pegs being cancelled, over things like not getting the exact Care Bear I wanted, over the mere existence of tuna noodle casserole.

So it’s a tad Boy Crying Wolf of me now to say, “Really, guys.  Listen up!  I was traumatized.”  And you’re not going to understand the magnitude of what I’m about to say.  And you’re going to think I’m about to tell you of the time I dropped a pizza-flavored Hot Pocket on my best pair of 1988 stonewashed jeans.  And you’re going to say, “Oh, please.  Are you going to tell me you were traumatized by that?  Have you not heard of club soda?”  And I’m going to say, “Really?  And then do I follow with a cold water rinse?”  And you’re going to say, “Yes.  Now are we through here?”  And I’m going to say, “Almost.  Can you email me a recipe for easy nacho dip?”

Believe me.  I’m talking therapy sessions.  I’m talking traumatized.

Here it is.  

Why did we have to get naked and take showers in junior high gym class?

Why?  Why then?  Why with no opt-out clause?  Who plans this?  Is this written in some kind of hygiene curriculum plan set by a torture fiend over at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Very Important Dickweeds?

There we are, us kids, in all our lumpy, bumpy, pimply, disproportionate splendor, not even wanting to look at our own pathetic gimpy selves in the mirror, let alone our friends’.

And then we have to strip naked and jump on a locker room parade float.

For the sake of “us”, I’m going to talk in general asexual, androgynous terms and refrain from mentioning any specifics on this, most especially my specifics.  It would drive a wedge into our relationship.  There’d be awkwardness.  You’d have trouble looking me in the eye again.  You’d be reading my next post on the evolution of Pee-wee Herman, and all the while you’d be thinking only of this post and wondering, So did (bodily feature) ever enlarge/shrink/sprout hair/stop oozing/fall off/regain proportion/morph into a conjoined twin? 

Or maybe you will anyway.

I’ve given birth twice and I’m pretty sure at one point up to four nurses crawled inside my uterus.  I’m perfectly okay with that and with a locker room parade float — if it were required to bring a person into the world.

But as a kid I used to be terrified of nakedness.  For no other reason than the fact that my parents didn’t walk around naked and I didn’t have 28 sisters walking around naked — nor did I watch movies where sorority girls walked around in bras and had pillow fights in a way that would make it seem normal to walk around in bras and have pillow fights.  It is normal, isnt it?

I actually hyperventilated myself into a frenzy at age 13 when I thought my male doctor might make me strip naked to do a throat culture.  Imagine my reaction when I later learned about the locker room parade float.

Do you notice I don’t have any pictures in this post?  Feels kind of weird, doesn’t it?  Feels a little strange with all of these words and vacant spaces and no photograph hanging around to cozy up to, to block some of this wretched starkness.  Feels a little, well, naked.

Would you like something to cover up with?  Oh, okay.  Here you go.  It’s a microscopic picture of a beach blanket.

Cute, huh.

You didn’t see it?  Oh, sorry.  I’d offer you something more substantial but then you might get the idea that you can just hide behind it and not do what you’re here to do which is read!  Maybe if you scroll down quickly, the words will form a blurry shadow that appears to be a soft fuzzy bathrobe.

Or maybe you can lean against this gray text box?  I guess it seems appropriate to leave this here.

Dear Miss Leonard,

I would rather smell like rotten, sweaty 30-day-old gym socks and have my period 365 days out of a year than to have to take a shower for your own sadistic pleasure.

I wish on you an annual pap exam during the day that the entire med school’s first-year student class visits your doctor’s exam room.  And may they all be carrying their clipboards.  And clicky pens.

Your friend in hygiene,


113 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2012 6:18 am

    Holy Pizza-Flavored Hot Pocket, this post was funny. Luckily my school district was not run by a Turkish Bath contingent, and we were not forced to disrobe completely in front of one another and shower. We just stunk. And that was just fine. Because everything stinks at that age.

    I admire your ability to make jokes about an obv. traumatizing experience. I’m looking forward to the evolution of Pee Wee Herman.

    • February 16, 2012 2:10 pm

      A Turkish Bath contingent is just about the best comparison in the history of comparisons, second only to your comparison of bad humor to stale turds.

  2. February 16, 2012 6:46 am

    Still crying over the four nurses in your uterus. That is about the truth. And I didn’t particularly accept it then! I was extremely lucky to go to a school where we did not have to shower. I think I would have dropped out over that. The little dance I did every day to hide my granny panties has been enough to haunt me through the years. When I was old enough to drive, the first thing I did was go out and buy underwear acceptable enough to traipse through the locker room in. Excellent post.

    • February 16, 2012 2:15 pm

      Thanks, MM. I don’t get all of you who didn’t have to shower in gym, and apparently there is a lot of you. I now think I must’ve went to a Siberian prison school.

      Yes, there was extreme pressure to own the right style of underwear. I recall mine was acceptable, though it probably wasn’t acceptable that my bra could double as a man’s undershirt.

  3. February 16, 2012 6:47 am

    Your best post yet. I am sad for you about the pizza pocket incident. I would not have known about club soda as a middle schooler.

    • February 16, 2012 2:17 pm

      Thanks, BC. That means a lot to me. I don’t know that club soda really works, but I recall hearing of it on a movie or two — typically it is referenced after someone gets drunk at an office party and spills red wine on their boss.

  4. February 16, 2012 7:01 am

    Angie, you are one of my favorite writers and storytellers. Naked without photos, referring to the tiny towel, and blurring words for a bathrobe, well, that is just too clever! I also dreaded middle school gym for this very same reason. I have a vague memory of carrying an umbrella into the shower to make a point. Those were indeed humiliating times. I can’t wait for your next post. Have a great week!

    • February 16, 2012 2:19 pm

      Aw, thanks, Amy. Wow, now I feel a lot of pressure to deliver. Hopefully my Pee-wee Herman post won’t let you down. You with your umbrella — you sound like you would’ve been my hero back then. Way to stand up to the establishment.

  5. David Kreiman permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:39 am

    Boys gym locker room perspective … the naked issues were probably similar, but the option to “smell like rotten, sweaty 30-day-old gym sock versus showering” didn’t exist. Even when we showered we still smelled. The stink of gym clothes, shoes, lockers, etc. stayed with you regardless of how many bars of Irish Spring were used.

    • February 16, 2012 2:20 pm

      David, you just reminded me why I didn’t like boys until I was 17. And thanks for the flashback, Irish Spring.

      • David Kreiman permalink
        February 16, 2012 4:28 pm

        Well, now apparently, they just douse themselves in Ax spray

      • February 16, 2012 4:48 pm

        Another thing I had to Google today. I’m so out of the loop. God help me when my kids hit that age and I have to buy a teenage translation app for my smart phone and then a translation app for terms like app.

  6. February 16, 2012 7:48 am

    Oh I am in tears! Tears, I say!

    First the locker room parade float and then the uterus filled with nurses. I am not elaborating when I say I see you your four nurses and raise you five nurses, TWO ob/gyns and probably a janitor as I was wheeled into the ER on my knees screaming in agony at the end of 24 plus hours of hell.

    I used to dread even changing for gym. A friend of mine and I refused to put on shorts for the longest time. We’d be out there playing dodge ball in toughskins.

    This post was brilliant from start to finish (as always)

    • February 16, 2012 7:50 am

      I had to share this on FB and twitter…too frickin’ fracken’ funny.

      • February 16, 2012 5:12 pm

        Thanks for the Facebook traffic today. Wow, you have 34,405* Facebook friends, huh. You’re popular.

        *Complete BS

    • February 16, 2012 2:23 pm

      I wish I could bottle your bit about the janitor joining the nurses and OBs in your uterus on your way to the ER. Is it bad that I’m laughing hysterically, though knowing you had a traumatic birth (I guess I did know that already and knew that it turned out okay)?

      I often physically crawled inside my gym locker when I changed clothes.

  7. February 16, 2012 7:57 am

    YES! Finally, someone who understands the horror!

    • February 16, 2012 2:24 pm

      I feel that speaking out about this abuse is perhaps my calling in life.

  8. Nancy permalink
    February 16, 2012 8:03 am

    Love this post. Oh, how I can relate. I didn’t even sweat yet in 7th grade and that’s when we were first expected to shower after gym class. I always found a way to avoid it. These days, in light of the Sandusky/Penn State incidents, I would be upset with school staff if they still forced middle school children to fully shower in school. It’s just weird and, yes, plain torture for a child going thru puberty!

    • February 16, 2012 2:27 pm

      Yes, you’ve brought up an excellent point, Nancy. I highly doubt there is such an extreme policy for this sort of showering nonsense these days. Parents are way more lawsuit-happy, so I’m guessing they let kids out of showering if they so much as have a scabbed knee. At any rate, I will home-school my kids, Little House on the Prairie-style, if it means preventing this awful happening. And that’s saying a lot since I can’t even remember what the word algebra means.

  9. February 16, 2012 8:06 am

    I didn’t have the nakedness issue, probably because of the fact that I was in swimming at least twice a week most of my childhood. It is really, really hard to maintain the fear of personal nakedness when you go in to the public swim each week that just happens to be scheduled directly after the seniors swim. Those ladies have NO shame. None. And they’re chatty while being shameless and naked. Chatty, shameless, naked and severely impacted by gravity. By the time I got to a gym class I had to get naked for, I was past the fear.

    • February 16, 2012 2:31 pm

      That is so funny and so true. Thank you for sharing this experience. I don’t think old men and women would hesitate to drop their drawers in the middle of a pharmacy if it meant getting a discount flu shot. I wonder if it’s also a generational thing. Not only do you care less as you age, that particular generation is probably more likely to have grown up with 15 siblings sharing one bathroom.

  10. Tony permalink
    February 16, 2012 8:35 am

    I never did understand the showering thing. Aside from a few of my fat friends, most kids that age I knew didn’t even need deodorant! Being forced to shower was just humiliating as well as dangerous. I saw a guy in our PE class fall on the wet floor on the way to the shower and he ended up with broken ribs, probably because he was in a nervous rush like most of us.

    I would step in just long enough to get my shoulder wet and then (carefully) hurry back to the locker and get dressed as quickly as possible. What a nightmare that was!

    Then later in school some girl would ask us it was true that ‘Jim’ still hadn’t arrived at puberty. Ugh!!

    • February 16, 2012 2:37 pm

      Yes, yes — the whole asking whether “it’s true about so-and-so and his developments.” I recall someone coming up to me to tell me a guy I dated didn’t have “hair on his balls”. Just recanting this awfulness makes me want to hurl all over a locker room floor. And then I’d probably slip in it and break a few ribs.

      I think I only produced sweat about ten times in my entire school career — probably all incidents were right before I had to give an oral report in class. Funny how we didn’t have to shower after speech class.

  11. February 16, 2012 9:11 am

    it was Bright Heart Raccoon, right? Am I right? (although technically, that was a Care Bear Cousin.)

    • February 16, 2012 2:39 pm

      Wow, Peg. You’re good. Until now I had no memory of those Care Bear cousin species and you are the one who reminded me. I feel like the student is teaching the instructor here.

      • February 16, 2012 3:04 pm

        Well, I did remember they existed, but I had to Google them to find the specific names to choose from.

        Does it say something about my dedication to noodling around making comments on hysterical blogs, vis a vis actually doing some insurance work (for which I might actually get paid) here in my office?

      • February 16, 2012 4:52 pm

        Nah, I think you’re in the majority, Peg. It’s proven that activity on most social media sites, message boards and blog forums occurs during work hours. It’s really no wonder that our country will soon be taken over by China and/or aliens, though it’s comforting that we’ll have advanced notice of the takeover via Twitter.

      • February 16, 2012 4:55 pm

        I don’t DO Twitter. Damn! Send a comment to me when the Chinese/Aliens land, will ya?

      • February 16, 2012 5:00 pm

        Nor do I, so I can’t help you there. We’re screwed.

      • russelllindsey permalink
        February 17, 2012 5:33 pm

        I’m screwed as well. I don’t DO Twitter either.


  12. February 16, 2012 9:18 am

    Wow, I remember the terror of the shower. I was a “jock”, and I tell you this only for two reasons: We had to do this twice a day, once after gym class and once after sports. The second, the towel snapping. I had more red welts on my backside than I care to remember. The locker-room smell from a boy’s locker room has just entered my nostrils just from being flashed back there. It was rumored that you girls had shower stalls. We had one big room, like the showers in the Holocaust, and no where to hang a towel except on our lockers 20 feet away. Great, funny post.

    • February 16, 2012 2:43 pm

      Thanks so much for bringing up the Holocaust shower thing. I so wanted to work that into my post (because it does seem oddly related) but thought someone might find it in poor taste and beat me up. And then I truly would never be forgiven for my misuse of the word traumatized. You just made my day. Is it bad that you made my day by referencing the Holocaust? Probably.

  13. February 16, 2012 9:19 am

    Ding dangity, Angie – this was hilarious! Oh the stories I could share … the stories will have to wait, though. I’ve got theme from Square Pegs playing in my head.

    • February 16, 2012 2:46 pm

      “Square Pegs, Square Pegs, Square . . . Square . . . Pegs!” Yeah, I hear that song in my head a lot, too. Along with the theme song to Silver Spoons. “We’re hoping to find some things you just can’t buuuuuuy. Silver Spoons together . . . together . . . together, we’re going to find our waaaaay.”

  14. February 16, 2012 9:21 am

    Phew! I finally find something I wasn’t traumatized by! MY tiny little religious school thought that nudity of any kind was heinous. We played kickball on knee length jumpers then went off to chapel unshowered, but hey,we never really broke a sweat!
    I respect your trauma. For my 7th birthday my parents took me to Farrells but didn’t tell them it was a birthday and they didn’t do the birthday drumline or sing to me. I still hate them a tiny bit for that.

    • February 16, 2012 2:50 pm

      I think for the first time in my life I wish I had gone to a parochial school. Thanks for that.

      I had never heard of Farrell’s. So thank you also for my Google search of the day. I can assure you it won’t be my last. (Thank goodness they didn’t sing to you.)

  15. John-Paul permalink
    February 16, 2012 11:32 am

    Sometimes I played sport in a break at university. That lasted right up to the point I found myself having a shower next to my English lecturer. Awkward. Are we supposed to just chat now, maybe even discuss Jane Eyre? Who needs to be fit anyway?

    • February 16, 2012 2:54 pm

      Holy crap. I thought it was creepy when my biology lab instructor hit on me in a bar and then went on to teach my class about the mating habits of tree frogs. You just took it to a whole new level of horribly awkward.

  16. February 16, 2012 1:11 pm

    You crack me up!! You are so right about that (especially the nurses and uterus thing). Being naked under any circumstance is about the worst thing a young girl could ever go through, I think. Could you imagine being a shy teen AND going through the experience of having a baby?? Trauma times 10!

    I didn’t hit puberty until sometime in my 20’s, so I always looked gangly and disproportionate and dorky (at least until my braces came off). Just no one ever needed to see that but me — not even my mom. And that vision still haunts me to this day.

    • February 16, 2012 2:57 pm

      I have another horrible scenario. Imagine being Soleil Moon Frye in 1986 and having your breasts strapped down every day so you can continue playing Punky Brewster. How she got out of that experience as a mentally sound human being, I’ll never know.

      • February 16, 2012 3:15 pm

        No doubt. At least she had boobs that had to be strapped. I wouldn’t know what that’s like. That part of puberty kinda skipped me altogether. Maybe I should have signed up for the Punky character so she could retire. I could still be getting rich on royalties doing the show in my 40’s with Botox alone.

      • February 16, 2012 4:57 pm

        Shannon, even more that we have in common. I’m 36 and could be mistaken for 16. I’m pretty sure I could finally be cast in the third generation revival of 90210. I have some nice crows’ feet slowly coming along that might give me the chance of going to a bar just once without getting carded. Only problem is now I’m old and can’t stay up that late.

  17. February 16, 2012 1:51 pm

    I never had to take a shower at school, but if it had been a requirement, I can assure you I would’ve fought it with every fiber of my being. I still can’t fathom being naked in public other than at the doctor. It’s inhumane.

    • February 16, 2012 2:59 pm

      I’m glad I posted this as it has helped me realize that, while many kids were also forced to disrobe and shower, may kids were not. I wonder if the fact that my gym teacher was a former torture-based interrogator for the KGB had anything to do with my own experience.

  18. February 16, 2012 2:02 pm

    I’m putting this up as an addendum to my post. A hilarious Freaks and Geeks episode bit on the “new district policy” to shower at school. This is just a small clip, but the episode ends with poor Sam getting naked and shut out of the locker room without clothes.

  19. February 16, 2012 6:06 pm

    Like you, making sure kids get a good education and are exposed to colleges is one of my top priorities. My junior year of high school I moved in with my dad. IF the new high school had not made students take showers after gym class, I would have never dropped out of school. I’m not ashamed to admit (well really I am, but your post has brought the truth out), I dropped out of high school for a semester because I would rather not graduate than take my clothes off and shower at school (especially first period right after I spent from 6:30 a.m to 8:00 a.m. applying make-up, curling my hair, and using my special Q-tip application technique to get just the right amount of eyeliner smudged around each eye). If I had not dropped out of high school, my early twenties would not have sucked, and I would have never realized how important a college education is. SO, I think for the sake of making the world a better place and populating it with grateful college graduates, the shower rule must continue.

    On a different note, I said to Tony right before I read this post (on the way home from the gym). The naked people in the San Francisco gym are a lot more attractive than the naked people at the Marin County gym, so if I ever do take a shower at a gym (which I won’t) I’m showering at the Marin gym.

    Great post!!!!

    • February 17, 2012 9:35 pm

      Wow! I would’ve never in a million years guessed this! Thank you for sharing. What an inspiring story, WW. (And I’m also inspired by your early commitment to cosmetics, which I shared a passion for in my younger days.) My Little Sister dropped out of high school, too. She returned a few months later (I thought I’d have a heart attack in the mean time as I felt like the worst mentor ever). She’s now slated to graduate this May (hooray). Back to you — I’m impressed. You took the tougher road for sure, but that must be why you write without even a smidgen of pretension. I love that about your writing.

      The Marin County gym might be the same sort of place that Lexy (above) referenced, so it could be a mixed blessing.

  20. February 16, 2012 6:22 pm

    OMG…did this bring back memories…and, may I say…not good ones…more like nightmares. Like any of us worked that hard that we actually sweated in gym class anyway…and quite frankly…I would have preferred to smell some good old BO than see the naked bodies…more exactly than having to show my own underdeveloped body!!
    HORRORS! And clearly this has gone on for YEARS!! There should be a LAW…that’s it … a LAW against it! My thought now is…do the professional athletes still have these same feelings…be it the Packers….the Cornhuskers…whatever. Do you think even hunky guys have these feelings?? Maybe I should take a census in the Packer’s locker room next time they play…what do you think?? I can see the news now…65 year old woman fanes taking poll in Packer locker room…thrown out on her BUTT! I tried!

    • February 17, 2012 9:25 pm

      I will help you lobby and advocate for that law to be enacted. I will work night and day for that. But I’m sorry that I’ll have to decline any invitations to help you with your Packers locker room polling.

  21. February 16, 2012 6:53 pm

    Angie, I’m sorry for your pubescent trauma, but it does make for some damn funny reading. I’m so grateful that my school didn’t require us to shower after gym. We just slathered on lots of Tickle deodorant.

    • February 17, 2012 9:23 pm

      Tickle! What a great memory, Paprika. I can still remember what the pastel-colored rounded bottles looked like. I think we continued selling Tickle at the old drug store where I worked — long, long after it left the shelves in most parts of the world and long, long after it was (perhaps) banned by the FDA.

  22. February 16, 2012 6:54 pm

    Our teachers inspected. Ewwwww. I forgot I was traumatized. Thanks a whole lot, Angie.

    • February 17, 2012 9:19 pm

      Yes, gym teacher inspections were common in my school, too. So we wet our hair and towels, made water footprints on the floor, all kinds of sneaky things.

  23. February 16, 2012 7:01 pm

    What’s going on today?? I just clicked onto Good Humored and found SHE wrote about nudity too:

    are we back in junior high?

    • February 17, 2012 9:17 pm

      I love that she wrote about her search engine stats regarding nudity. Paprika and Google can start sending those nudity searchers to my blog now. I got your nakedness right here, boys.

      • February 17, 2012 9:20 pm

        And the world is better for it. I think!

  24. Smell-of-the-middle-school-gym permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:24 pm

    I stood in the middle school “gym” this summer (also an elevated stage) and took in the amazing aroma of the past. And by amazing, I mean just kind of stinky. Strangely, I was with two women from my class who brought up this very same trauma and the very same name you mentioned. I never thought about it, but I did rock the Irish Spring.

    • February 17, 2012 9:15 pm

      That does not surprise me. One whiff of Irish Spring and those germy lockers would’ve taken me straight back as well. Then there was our rockin’ play “I Remember Mama” that took place right about in the same spot you referenced. Thankfully I didn’t have to get naked to be in that play.

      • I remember Mama the naked Musical coming to Broadway permalink
        February 20, 2012 8:35 pm

        Best line from “I Remember Mama” – – – “Papa, do you want to pet my pussy”

        No kidding. Sophomoric humor needed no help and as you might guess a certain red head co-star and I could barely ever make it through that line. I mean I know it was a German family and all but can we just call it a cat, we didn’t need any help!

      • February 20, 2012 8:42 pm

        I have no memory of that line! What the hell is wrong with me? I mostly remember all of my stupid lines and how lame I probably said them. “Who’s going to be three months old tomorrow? Little Peter Torkelson.” I do remember you and the certain redhead co-star putting your head down on the table a lot.

        PS Your username made me bust a rib or two.

  25. February 16, 2012 7:54 pm

    I went to parochial school through 8th grade. We never even took off our sweaters. So high school was weird. I couldn’t disguise the fact that I still looked 10. My the time I was 16 I gave up all hope.

    • February 17, 2012 9:13 pm

      I looked 10, too. Not a fun time for girls who looked 10 at 16.

  26. Mark permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:57 pm

    My favorite post yet! Love everything about it and you.

    • February 17, 2012 9:11 pm

      I love you madly but am also thrilled to have not known you in junior high.

  27. February 16, 2012 8:34 pm

    Oh, great, now you’ve triggered the flashbacks. Even now I blindfold the dog when I undressed.

    • February 17, 2012 9:09 pm

      So funny, Lisa. Our pets don’t deserve having their innocence tainted by us.

  28. February 16, 2012 9:30 pm

    Both my jr high and high schools had us shower after practices and gym classes. Unless you were injured, you had to go to practice and gym class, and then take a shower afterward. It was pretty much normal for the guys. I don’t remember any harassment about adolescence and coming of age, but I do remember this, and will I wish I hadn’t posted this later? NAH!

    There was a kid in jr high who stepped into the shower (after the first day of football practice), um, shall we say he amazed the rest of the football team with a portion of anatomy. He was promptly nicknamed “Boa” by one of our erstwhile classmates. Totally true story and the name stuck! hehehe

    • February 17, 2012 9:08 pm

      I remember you grew up in Omaha, MJ. I can’t believe you and your classmates weren’t subjected to the relentless shower room taunting that seems to be a part of our standard Germanic Nebraskan roots. Boa? Holy crap.

  29. Kim Hedstrom permalink
    February 16, 2012 11:06 pm

    I would like to add the equally horrifying fact that once Miss Leonard figured out we all had our periods 365 days a year, she began CHARTING our cycles. What?! Why? And then she started racing us to the locker room, eliminating the wet footprint maker that enabled those lucky few to say they had already showered. I think traumatized is a very accurate word!

    I love reading these, Angie! Great work!

    • February 17, 2012 9:05 pm

      Thank you for reading and thanks bringing this up, Kim! I remember it like it was yesterday. I wanted to work in that horrible detail (charting!) but thought my readers would say, “This has to be made up.” Now I have validation. Eeek.

  30. February 16, 2012 11:07 pm

    Really good, Ang. I was not kidding when, in my previous post (which I will not supply a link to–your welcome) we all went swimming naked–coed–alot.
    So I was brought up in this weird culture (maybe we were in Sweden?) and it wasn’t that big a deal.
    Now you can understand why I am so grounded and normal.
    PS-Freshly Pressed doesn’t seem to be wearing off.

    • February 17, 2012 9:03 pm

      Yes, not surprised that you were raised in pseudo-Sweden, Les. It explains so much. I am envious of such expansive comfort levels.

      PS I think the activity on this post has less to do with being Freshly Pressed and more to do with having “Naked” in the title.

  31. WordsFallFromMyEyes permalink
    February 17, 2012 3:30 pm

    I loved your expression “disproportionate splendour” :) A great read. I can relate!! Ah, nude …. it’s so “DIFFERENT”.

    • February 17, 2012 9:01 pm

      Good bodily proportion is underrated. Thanks for reading.

  32. February 18, 2012 11:06 am

    I’ve always been puzzled by the Jr. High shower regime, too. First of all, nothing in our P.E. classes was rigorous enough to promote a sweat. Secondly, menstruating girls were given a reprieve during their periods. Natch, I was very late to start menstruating so I was sure everyone in the class knew that I wasn’t “a woman” yet. Oh, the embarrassment!

    I’m convinced the PE teachers were lesbians and this shower monitoring business was their perk for putting up with neurotic teenage girls.

    • February 18, 2012 2:19 pm

      Thanks for this validation, rangewriter. The only time I broke a sweat was in speech class, and now (as I mentioned in another comment) I think this is when they should require showers. Maybe there could be little shower stalls right off of the podium? I also wonder if gym teachers in general might run a little on the crazy side (oh, crap, I just lost all those readers associated with teaching gym) — because the gym teacher who followed this nutjob ended up being fired for getting involved with her male student. I think later they moved in together. It was oh-so romantic.

  33. russelllindsey permalink
    February 18, 2012 1:14 pm

    God Ang. I’m so glad that we didn’t have to shower after gym class. We just had to change for class, and that was bad enough!

    We all learned how to carefully take off regulars bras and put on sports bras UNDER our shirts thanks to gym class. My boyfriend still marvels at this…

    I was EXTREMELY lucky. We didn’t ever even have to change clothes for gym class from K-6. In junior high/high school, I was only forced to take gym in 9th grade. I’m just extremely grateful I had a great gym teacher. He was great as long as you tried. (My body is NOT made for gymnastics!)

    As for the four nurses in your uterus … too funny. I can’t relate as I am not a Mom. Imagine this though. You have a genetic condition the result of which is that you have to go on hormone therapy to go through puberty. As a result, doctors examine every freakin’ inch of your body as you GO though puberty. Mortifying to say the least. It sucks having Turner Syndrome.

    By the way, it would be too awesome if you could sent that snarky – and well-deserved – letter to your PE teacher :D I can’t believe what she put your class through!


    • February 18, 2012 2:21 pm

      Ugh. Poor kid. You bring up a great memory I have of learning to change bras under t-shirts. I had forgotten all about that important life skill. I also remember girls always wearing really long t-shirts to cover their butts. Thankfully, it was the 80s so t-shirts were practically dresses anyway.

      • russelllindsey permalink
        February 18, 2012 2:28 pm

        I’ve always liked that look and wished it would come back! Oh, and the bra thing is a life skill. I love the fact that it freaks guys out and they don’t understand how we do it. :D


  34. February 18, 2012 5:27 pm

    In grade school, the nurse would give you an ice pack for everything… including fevers.
    If you had an open laceration– ice pack– forget the necessary wound dressing, etc.
    Ice Pack.

    • February 20, 2012 8:36 pm

      That is hilarious! I have no recollection of any role our school nurse played in pushing medical supplies (ice pack, band-aid, none of it comes to mind). But there was the time when she had to come into our class, separated by gender, and show us The New You video. Now that is what I call traumatizing.

  35. D@wn permalink
    March 8, 2012 3:38 pm

    I have been searching the internet for days trying to find a place where there was kindred spirits about this trauma. I am so uncomfortable getting undressed that I can’t bring myself to go to a doctor for fear of them asking me to take my clothes off. The only person who has seen me totally naked since the jr.high years has been my husband and even that is done with much reluctance. We’ve been going through some issues and He noted how hard it was for me to be nude with him. We were going to take a shower and I ALWAYS cover my breasts with my arms. Well this week he chose to pull my arms down and I FREAKED! I had a flashback to the gym shower thing and had a full blown panic attack. I haven’t thought of it in years.

    We were required to shower, had a towel so small that you had to choose whether to cover your top half or bottom half, the teacher monitored your periods and required that you shower every day that you didn’t have one, and at the end of the showering process you had to drop the towel and turnaround so she could verify that you got wet all over. What a pervert! This was in the early 70’s and it still causes me real trauma. Thanks for speaking out. Though you wrote with great humor, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who has real scars from this experience

    • March 10, 2012 8:51 pm

      It’s important that we speak out about this abusive, ridiculous showering policy. Surely this can’t be around anymore? Surely this evil practice died off in the 80s and 90s? Teachers can’t so much as pat a kid on the back these days, so I can’t imagine they could chart their menstrual cycles and get away with it. If I’m wrong about that, I will fire up my picketing-sign-maker and get to marching. Care to join?

      You poor thing!

  36. Sarah permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:14 am

    This brings back memories for me too.

    Both my middle school and high school required students to shower in gym class in those group showers. So, from the ages of 11 through 17, I was forced to bare all in front of my female classmates, as well as the female gym teachers who seemed all to keen on watching us as we showered.

    And there were always that small handful of girls that acted like exhibitionists that seemed more than happy to prance around naked.

    My daughters middle school does not make kids shower in gym class, but they are given extra-credit if they do, so my daughter chooses to shower after gym, and she says about half of the other girls do as well.

    I wish we had had an option when I was in school. Or that we would have at least received extra-credit for it.

    • March 29, 2012 2:28 pm

      This all sounds like my experience. I’m so glad to hear times have changed in the way of school-sponsored emotional abuse. Maybe now I’ll let my kids go to public school.

  37. May 3, 2012 7:26 am

    thank god, my school didn’t have this stupid rule, i am so scared of nakedness too :P

  38. May 5, 2012 5:04 pm

    Oh my God I totally forgot about this childhood trauma! It was truly one of the worst middle school experiences. Thanks for reminding me, and so vividly too! NOT! ;)

    • May 8, 2012 1:20 pm

      I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one to have to endure this horror. After writing this post, I got the sense that this truly was “cruel and unusual” by the amount of shocked comments I received.

  39. etarace permalink
    June 9, 2012 2:20 am

    This was my sentiments exactly. Here’s a little something extra stupid: my gym class was the last class of the day, and my parents drove me to and from school. As others have pointed out, it isn’t as if middle school gym class gets you sweaty anyway. But the creepy woman they put behind the glass that looks into the girls’ locker room claims that we all get stinky. So what? Why can’t I go home to shower behind a locked door in a room all alone? I had no more classes to be stinky in, and I wasn’t going to be riding on a bus to stink that up.
    There were a few of us girls who would tell our male gym teacher that we were having our periods about three weeks out of the month. This got us out of gym class and therefore out of having to take a shower. You just start with “I’m having a female…” and he would stop you not wanting to hear anything about any female things, and allow you to sit out that day.

    • June 11, 2012 8:05 pm

      That is ridiculous! You weren’t even going to class after that and still had to shower — what kind of evil purpose is behind all that? How could they even justify asking you all to shower? I wouldn’t even shower at a gym now — just hop in the car and drive home. For crying out loud!

      Yes, you might’ve read in some of the other comments here that my class faked periods to the point where our gym teacher took it upon herself to chart out our cycles. “That’s odd, Angie has had her period for 10 straight weeks. That can’t be healthy.” Cripes.

      • etarace permalink
        June 12, 2012 10:52 pm

        I think a lot of us hadn’t even started our periods yet. Fortunately, our male gym teacher didn’t want to hear anything at all about any of our feminine “things” that might be going on in our asymetrical little bodies. Just start a hesitant sentence with “I’m having a female issue…” and he held up his hands for you to quit speaking IMMEDIATELY, he then sputtered non-words and gestured until we went to sit on the bleachers. We usually didn’t even say we were having our periods, he could imagine it was that or cramping, or any other mysterious feminine issue. The REAL problem was “I am having a female issue: I am a young female who does not want to be naked.”
        And I TOTALLY agree that they should have to pay for our therapy!!

      • etarace permalink
        June 12, 2012 10:54 pm

        OH! … And to this day I am even uncomfortable being naked in a hotel bathroom. I believe the middle school gym locker room is as least partly to blame.

      • June 14, 2012 8:17 pm

        Hotel bathrooms tend to be look institutional like locker rooms so that makes sense! Damn those awful gym teachers.

  40. June 12, 2012 1:19 pm

    I’m still traumatized over that – EEEEEEEEEK – Me!

  41. June 25, 2012 8:14 pm

    This was a great post- next time I’ll schedule a pee break BEFORE I check your blog. And as the the birthing thing- as a labor and delivery nurse I can vouch for you- there were quite probably more than 4 nurses up there!

    • June 26, 2012 1:33 pm

      Oh, were you in there too? I didn’t really get a good look at who all climbed in.

      Thanks for stopping by — I mean my blog, not my uterus.

  42. July 17, 2012 10:15 pm

    Hooo! All the traumatic memories, flooding back. Actually, I did my best to pretend I was alone in the locker room, starting in sixth grade, thank you very much. I have heard that people who went to school in fancier, bigger districts had especially horrifying phy ed memories involving swimming pools and suits with insufficient coverage. I am very glad we didn’t have that. When I finally made it to college I ended up in a dorm where there was a group shower and damn if i didn’t hear girls critiquing what they considered “excessive thoroughness” of another girl’s hygiene (my words, not theirs.) When does the madness end? Thanks to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, In my head I have four gay men critiquing how I apply mascara. Hilarious post as always!

    • July 22, 2012 6:42 pm

      Thanks, Lynnette — reading this, I’m filled with gratitude that my college dorm did not contain group showers. Even as an adult, I could not tolerate this level of exposure.

  43. UKYankee permalink
    September 5, 2012 9:06 am

    Did we go to Junior High together? Our PE teachers used to take the most perverse pleasure in A) the moment that they could tell us with relish that we were taking showers (because this particular form of torture only occurred at their whim) and B) watching to make sure that everybody went in. And speaking of the microscopic beach towel- the school towel provision amounted to a wash cloth sized towel. Do they still allow schools to get away with this kind of barbarity? Thanks for getting me all fired up- clearly I need to go back to my therapist with this one…
    PS- only just stumbled upon your blog today. Its destroyed my productivity at work!

    • September 7, 2012 8:47 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! Reading about your similar experience might’ve just now helped me heal a bit. There’s got to be some kind of Karma Gods out there who will seize these sadistic people and make them experience this same torture they’ve inflicted and worse. I’d like to hope that at least one of them will one day be walking down the aisle of a busy grocery store when their pants will suddenly drop to their ankles.

      This exact incident actually happened to a friend of mine once. No joke. The drawstring broke on her sweatpants while she was standing in the cereal aisle. Although to my knowledge she never forced pubescent children to get naked and shower after gym class in her past life.

  44. September 16, 2012 11:25 am

    I figured it out after a couple of years. It was so the Assistant head coach could stand at the the edge of where we walked into the showers so he could daydream and smile. He was the same person who when we had sex education in 8th grade in the boys locker room, explained how normal condoms were; that Greeks used to use animal intestines or something wrapped around there you know what. I think he was a little sick in the head, staring at us and talking to us 13-14 year olds like he was just one of the guys.

    • September 24, 2012 11:15 pm

      Ewww…icky! All of it. Especially the part about the condoms. Yikes. I think I blocked out most of my sex education class. I seem to recall a banana demonstration. And maybe textbook pictures of genital herpes. Oh, how did any of us survive back then? How?

  45. Sarah permalink
    December 1, 2012 12:13 am

    I attended a class reunion tonight, and a conversation that took place amongst myself and several former classmates reminded me about this post of yours. As you might have guessed, the topic of the mandatory group showers in school came up.

    I was never a fan of the group showers thing in gym class. But after hearing about some of my former classmates experiences in the locker room, I count myself lucky. Some of them said that other girls teased them in the showers about big boobs or small boobs or how much pubic hair they had or did not have. Even though I attended the same school as them, I was lucky enough to escape six years of group showering without other girls publicly critiquing my body. I thought it was bad enough the times that I would notice another girl looking at my body while I showered, thankfully I didn’t hear what they were thinking while they were looking!

    • December 2, 2012 9:41 pm

      It must be some cruel form of torture that gym teachers concocted when they came up with public group showering. I’d prefer waterboarding any day.

  46. April 11, 2013 7:22 am

    Reblogged this on strachansays and commented:
    Quite brilliant and sums up the Strachan view to unnecessary Stripping for apres gym showers

  47. April 29, 2013 6:03 pm

    Elementary, middle and high school, I saw a room of functional showers. They were never used, never mentioned, so I never asked. We’d go to class using speed stick after running, basketball etc. If anyone DID take a shower, they’d be the only guy doing it and what would that have been like?

  48. Jenny permalink
    August 1, 2014 1:53 am


    Was your mom aware that you had to group shower at school? Could you have maybe asked her to have gotten you excused from the showering at school?

    What was going through your head the first time that you heard that you had to shower in front of your female classmates? I think that I’d be in shock if I were told that?
    Did you know ahead of time, or was it just sprung on you the first day of junior high?
    I don’t mean to be nosy. I just can’t imagine finding out that I would have to shower naked in front of the girls in my class!

    You have my sympathy!

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