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Butt, Naked? March 8, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Health, Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Nothing prepared my third grade girls, or me for that matter, for a walk through the women’s locker room at a nearby local aquatic center. No, there wasn’t anything titillating. Tits, yes, but nothing titillating. It was strictly R-rated – “R” as in  Real. Real people. Real bodies. Real scary – as in adult naked women, who bore no resemblance to Hannah Montana, toweling off. The horror!

First, some back story. Our entire third grade was given the opportunity to participate in the center’s “Olympic Challenge.” Four weeks of swimming lessons, four days a week, at the most gorgeous aquatic center imaginable. Swimming doesn’t get any better than this.

But to get to that gorgeous pool, you have to go through the locker room. Now, I never liked locker rooms when I was a kid. In middle school, I was so skinny that I could hide INSIDE my locker to avoid the dreaded gang shower. Luckily, the swim lessons were provided by young hard-bodied instructors. Us teachers got to sit pool side warming a bench – fully clothed, ostensibly “grading papers.”

No sooner had we marked our territory with the our grade books, than a wide-eyed boy emerged from the men’s locker room. “There’s a naked man in there!” he announced, as though he’d just seen an alien. Yeah, the boys have their own issues.

The teacher I partnered with has spent a lot of time in Europe and is married to a European. She gave me the impression they actually have a hard time keeping clothes on those fun-loving Europeans. But reading The Emperor Who Had No Clothes two weeks earlier was the closest my class had come to discussing nudity. We’d decided that the Emperor was wearing his “birthday suit,” though some kids later wrote that he was “butt naked.” (I don’t have a problem with the word “butt,” unless it’s preceded by the word “big.”)

I told my students to hurry up and change. They had no reason to linger in the locker room. “It’s not like you’re at Starbucks,” I told them. The first week was the worst. My Korean girls opened all the lockers and then draped towels between them so as to make small private dressing rooms. At least, that’s what I was told. I only set foot in the locker room once and the collective scream that went up sent me scurrying outside.

The first day, kids had to try on a swim suit (which they got to keep). Several of my bigger girls had to try on more than one to get just the right fit. One girl, who can look me eye to eye, sat pool-side the first week because she was “coming down with a cold.” After a few days, the swim instructor told me she needed try on a suit so she’d be ready to swim. The instructor then handed me three suits.

The girl hunkered down in a bathroom stall and I had to talk her through trying on each suit. Lots of grunting and groaning followed by, “Oops!  I think I have it on backwards.”  I offered to take a look, but she was horrified at the prospect. I finally convinced her this was okay, but first I had put on my dark glasses and keep my eyes shut as I’d promised. I groped around and fiddled with the straps. Then I was granted a quick look. “Hmmm.  I think the straps cut into your back,” I said, reaching for the next size up.

I groused as I heard the girl’s elbows knock against the sides of the stall, “You could have at least chosen a handicapped stall!” At last, we found a suit that covered the subject. I was exhausted. I had no idea that being a “highly, qualified teacher” involved THIS. The icing on the cake was when the girl’s family went out of town the next week – for the duration of swimming. Hmmm… But then what do I know?

When it was first announced that students would be swimming, my Muslim girl’s mother took me aside. She was concerned that her daughter be dressed “modestly.” I assured her I’d figure something out. That night I found myself googling “Muslim swim wear.” Oh dear. Snappy music came up with a woman riding a jet ski wearing what appeared to be a beekeeper’s suit. So not! Later, I found myself at Target checking out board shorts for girls. In the end, my student wore board shorts and a matching top, and yes, the other students knew why. It was no big deal. My student had never been in a pool before, so when she jumped off the diving board on the last day, I was ecstatic.

It was easier for the boys, although the bigger boys (those who wear “Husky-sized” pants), were plagued by an even more embarrassing issue – man boobs. Most of these boys were used to swimming in a t-shirt, so having it all out there for the world to see was humiliating. They walked around with their arms folded over their chest which made them look like they were chronically cold.

Each day we took the swimsuits back to school and hung them up to dry. When I noticed that one of my boys was always the first ready to swim, I realized he was taking his suit home and wearing it under his pants to school each day. Yeah, that would have been me, so I said nothing.

The first day, one of the instructors said the last boy out of the locker room would have to do the “chicken dance” in front of the girls, and vice-versa. This got the kids moving at warp speed. It is possible the “chicken dance” is just an urban legend, because I never actually saw it performed.

I never got around to grading any of those papers, what with taking photos of my students and passing out towels and all. But I had plenty of time to check out the other people at the pool. Not a lot of hotties swim during school hours. Like I said – “R” rated. We were sitting there one day when a guy walked by, his trunks clinging for dear life to his back side. The other teacher turned to me and said just what I was thinking – “crack kills.” We both burst out laughing.

Remember, last one out has to do the “chicken dance!”

Photo Credit:  Chicken Dance by babka_babka on Flickr.


1. Bev from england - March 8, 2009

oh jan…hilarious !!!! but reminds me, too, of the horrors of locker rooms…esp as a child….which was silly cos i was always slim… its only now i look like bubbles devere and the situation is much worse that i should feel bad, except now im almost 50 im almost invisible too… so no one can actually see the huge fat half naked woman lumbering around….

i too always wear my cossie underneath my clothes… esp good now cos its harder to squeeze into when sweaty from the heat! i remember my youngest son taking it to extremes tho when he also wore his now wet shorts under his trousers to come home…./:)



2. Catherine Sherman - March 9, 2009

Wow, can I relate to this now. I was lucky we never had much of a gym routine in my high school, because we had no showers…..

I took a swimming suit on a recent trip to a warm climate. Our svelte hostess asked whether I had a suit. I said, “Yes, but I don’t plan to wear it.” I chose to get my clothes wet in the surf.


3. moxey - March 10, 2009

I love it when kids’ modesty starts to grow in. Spawn is at that point right now. Heaven help if I should walk into the room when the kid is getting ready to go take a bath. I’m continually pointing out that I’ve seen that particular bare butt more times than I can count, so let’s get on with the bathtime.

I was painfully modest as a kid. Hated locker rooms.


4. lilikaofthelake - March 22, 2009

Your such a grand teacher. Lucky you are not to have the girls when they are all starting their periods at once. Man boobs at 8-9? What an amazing time for these children to get to splash and play in clean water.
Yes the chicken dance does exsist – it is our Wisconsin state anthem I can promise you it is real.

*clap clap clap clap* I was mortified when the DJ played it at my wedding ( I had no idea).

I want my children to learn to swim this summer. Swimming is so good for you, body, mind and soul.

Lilika – Since posting this, I attended a performance of the First Grade’s “The Little Red Hen,” which culminated with them doing the chicken dance. Too cute! But, I’m not sure that’s how I’d want to kick off my marriage! I s’pose it’s all uphill from there.


5. Karen - May 24, 2009

Wow, this reminds me of when I was in the sixth grade. For two weeks my sixth grade class went to a nearby high school to go swimming in the high school’s pool and be given swimming lesson from some of the high school students that were on the swim team.

We were not forced to shower nude, myself and most of the other girls in my class just showered in our bathing suits. The high school girls that were acting as instructors chose to shower in the nude however. I have to give them credit for having the guts to do that in front of about 20 sixth grade girls, because as you would expect of girls that age we kind of watched in awe as they showered and walked around freely naked in front of us.

That wasn’t the biggest shocker however. The day before our final swim lesson at the high school we convinced our teacher, Miss Sullivan, to swim with us the next day. So on the last day of swimming lessons Miss Sullivan went swimming with us. We were already all in the pool before she went into the locker room to change into her bathing suit, so no one saw anything then. But after our swim lesson, man, were we in for a surprise. Miss Sullivan walked into the locker room with us and stripped right out of her bathing suit, hung it on a hook, and then walked naked over to her locker. After getting out soap and shampoo she walked over to the showers where most of us were showering off in our bathing suits and she took a shower. She was asking us questions like how we all liked the swim lessons? Did we think we were better swimmers now than before the lessons? Did any of us think we would want to instruct sixth graders when we reached high school?

Anyway, we had to stand there talking to her while she stood there in all her full-frontal glory talking to us. And then she even blow-dried her hair standing there naked in front of the mirror.

To her credit, she was a very beautiful young woman, and I sure as hell wish that I could have the body at my age now that she had then! She was only 26 years old at that time, but of course at 11 years old we thought that 26 was bordering on old.

Karen – No matter how young and beautiful your teacher was, when you’re 11, it’s hard to fathom what an adult woman’s body looks like. In our culture, it’s practically TOP SECRET. When I lived in New York, I found myself for the first time in a “gang” dressing room. OMG. I had no idea that when the clothes came off, most women look like – well, real women, cottage cheese thighs and all. It was a revelation! Jan


6. Karen - May 27, 2009


My teacher, Miss Sullivan, looked a lot like that Julianne Hough from Dancing With The Stars. Or should I say Julianne Hough looks a lot like Miss Sullivan did, seeing as Miss Sullivan is older.

I had actually seen plenty of adult women in the nude before seeing Miss Sullivan in the locker room. I don’t have any brothers, and my mother was never shy about walking around the house in the nude in front of me and my sister.

But even more so, my mother had already been taking my sister and I swimming at a local Y for a number of years before I was in those sixth grade swimming classes. There were many times that it was wall-to-wall nude women in the locker room at that Y.

The gym that I go to these days is pretty diverse. There are women who look fantastic that walk around in the nude a lot, and there are women who do not look good at all that walk around in the nude. And there are both attractive and unattractive women who never walk around in the nude. I’m not at all bothered either way. Seeing other females in the buff does not bother me, whether they look good or not. Of course I never stare anyway. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea either. I never prance around in the nude in the gym locker room, but it doesn’t bother me either to shower and change in front of other women. Unless maybe they kept staring at me, that is.

Like I mentioned in my other posting, I actually admired my teacher and the high school girls for their willingness to bare all in front of a bunch of 11 year old’s in that school locker room. it was kind of a good example. Plus we all wound up having to shower in front of each other the following year in junior high, and all through high school.

Karen- Your teacher DID set a good example. If only we could all be so comfortable and “at home” in our own bodies. Last summer, a group of us hired a model so we could brush up on life drawing. The model was a professional and after the first minute, I might as well have been drawing a vase of flowers.

Two women had brought their sons (4 to 5ish), who played in another room. The boys got curious and came out to see what we were doing. They looked at the model, then at us, then asked if they could draw too. Their mothers handed them paper and pencils. The boys drew for 30 minutes, stopping to carefully study the model. I thought this was wonderful (though I swear one boy’s drawing looked like a truck). Jan


7. Karen - May 27, 2009


Sorry, I forgot to ask. Are you serious about hiding in a locker to avoid the group showers in middle school? At my junior high our gym teacher would stand there and watch to make sure that all of the girls showered everyday. She would stand there with a clipboard checking off our names as we exited the shower. We were required to spend at least 5 minutes in the shower, if we tried to leave early we were sent right back in again. And yes, they were those group showers where everyone was right there out in the open for all to see. They didn’t watch us in high school even though we were still required to shower after gym. By high school no one ever tried to avoid the showers, we actually wanted to be able to shower after working up a sweat.

Karen – Yes, I did hide in my locker more than once. But, your comment reminded me that our gym teacher also had a clipboard in hand outside the shower. Maybe she overlooked me on purpose. I was never a stellar PE student, so I doubt I worked up much of a sweat! Jan


8. Karen - May 27, 2009


The showers at my junior high were all out in the open, it wasn’t even a shower room, they were out in the open with the rest of the locker room. There wasn’t anywhere to hang our towels, so we just had to walk to and from the showers in the buff. A few of my girlfriends that went to a different junior high than myself told me at the time that they had to walk up to the gym teacher after they showered, and open up the towel to prove that they had really showered, and then their gym teacher would check off their name on the list. I wasn’t one of the shy girls, so simply being seen nude wasn’t really a problem for me, but “flashing” the teacher seemed like an odd thing that my friends had to do at their school.

Thanks for your replies!


9. Tim B. - January 13, 2012

This kind of reminds me of the time in college when my girlfriend and I streaked the entire campus. Luckily, it was very late at night and very warm. Probably the highlight of my entire seven-year bachelor’s degree.

Haha! I’m afraid What was once streaking would now be lumbering! FYI – You’re sounding like an overachiever compared to my youngest son. It took him seven years to get his associate’s degree. To be fair, the first two years were spent in a drug-induced haze and he has worked almost full-time since. He didn’t appreciate it when we asked if he had tenure and a parking spot with his name on it. Jan


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