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The stress of undress
Date:3/15/2012

change room and being reluctant to reveal her more intimate self. She said, "I angle my body this way and that as I undress and dress in the locker room. I look down to button my pants, I see my small breasts, my protruding stomach, no longer held in, contained and covered by my control top nylons and stylish skirt. This naked me is almost unfamiliar to me, so different than who I am all day, when I march around and am busy and efficient and in charge. But now, as I stand practically naked in the change room, no one can see that part of me, all there is to see is my body."

Not every woman feels this sense of discomfort. Some found the experience of being surrounded by many other women's bodies together after a workout comforting. "I like the time in the change room after a workout," said one participant. "I like being in a space where my body is just a body among other bodies. I know people might see me naked or partly naked but it doesn't bother me, this is who I am, this is my body, this is how I am in the world. I like being around all these other women of all shapes and sizes, it makes me feel connected to who I am, and somehow close to them."

Clark says she found that while older women expressed the same concerns about dressing and undressing in the change room as younger women, she says, "I think they spoke more reflectively about why we might experience these feelings of self-consciousness or modesty in a gym and they could articulate that. Although one said, 'I can't believe I still feel this way, but I do.'

"Women also talked about their body as an entity over which they have no control it was sagging or ageing, or it just did not comply with standards of conventional beauty. And while they were OK with that, they didn't want anyone else to see it."

Many women said they first became self-conscious about their bodies while teenagers. "A lot of the women I spoke to, if not every single one of them, could recall feeling
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Contact: Jane Hurly
jane.hurly@ualberta.ca
780-492-6821
University of Alberta - Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation
Source:Eurekalert  

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