I can't stop staring at girls in the gym changing rooms.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

I go to the gym the same as every average person. (By that I mean about four times a week for three weeks and then nothing other than pizza runs for a month until I feel disgusting again.) The female changing rooms at the gym is a weird place for me.

It’s somewhere I feel completely comfortable and free from judgment, yet so self conscious all at once. I am not an exhibitionist. I am, in fact, a prude, when it comes to displaying selective parts of my body. I’m no different within the confines of the ladies changing rooms at the gym, and am the one who shuffles to the corner to peel off her sports bra and clings to her towel, awkwardly removing my underwear so as not to flash anyone.

My legs just aren’t quite toned enough, my stomach not quite flat enough, my skin not bronzed enough, my boobs not quite big enough, and my arse is definitely not toned enough. I seem to be in a minority, because everyone else is not necessarily more confident, but more sensible in that we are in a changing room to shower and change, so being naked is the expected and justified.

But I just can’t stop staring. This morning in particular, because the changing rooms were busier than usual. Everyone’s bodies are just so different. So, so different from what I’m used to seeing as the representative female body type in TV, in films, in magazines. Of course there is that single odd-one-out blonde with abs and legs up to her chin and a real live bubble butt, but she’s also the one who is in the gym 7 days a week doing all the classes and I’m okay with that because she’s worked so hard for that body that it’s fair to wake up looking so magazine-perfect.

But for every other average Jane, our bodies are all just so varied. I can’t help but compare myself to them, but not in a bad way. I am fascinated! Suddenly my little belly rolls that I try to hide in high waisted jeans feel okay, because everyone else has at least one little roll as well. My untoned arse feels better because as it happens, magical bubble-butts aren’t the norm. My boobs may not be as big as I’d like, but they’re perky – and you can’t have it both ways unless you’re super lucky or paid for them.

Suddenly all the things I consider my flaws just become a part of me, because we are all just so different. I shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed for not looking like an instagram model or a famous actress because basically nobody actually looks like them.

I love looking at all the different shapes and sizes, I’m intrigued and I’m interested and they are all so unique and lovely in their own ways and I really wish that the media reflected reality better. 

I’m not an idiot – my degree is in journalism and I work in a Digital team watching models come in every day for castings and seeing the designers photo-shopping out their ‘flaws’ and ‘distractions’ so I know full well what goes on - just like everyone else does because we’ve all wised up to the media game.

 But if we’ve all wised up, why are we still ashamed and beating ourselves up for not fitting the media ideal? Why am I still covering myself with a towel?

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