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The stress of undress
Date:3/15/2012

painfully self-conscious in phys-ed class and said changing in the fitness centre reminded them of changing after gym class at school," says Clark.

Also, in North American society where the "body beautiful" is celebrated - both dressed and undressed, as something to look at and a reason to be seen - its ideal is young, thin and toned. Clark said she found plenty of social and cultural layers in the women's stories that indicated their awareness of the societal notions of beautiful, healthy bodies influenced their own feelings about the shared undressing experience of the change room. "I think even in the change room, women are carrying with them these knowledges and understandings (of the fit female body) that society has constructed," she says.

Clark says those involved in the design of these facilities need to think about how people feel about changing in public spaces and who might be using them to make them friendlier for different bodies.

"Currently change rooms are designed for efficiency. As our lifestyles continue to change and gyms become a more important part of getting exercise, the change room becomes an increasingly interesting space to consider. So I think it does actually merit some study. There are so many obstacles to going to a gym for the first time, from using the equipment, to knowing how to use the equipment, to navigating your way around the space.

"And then for people who find change rooms a difficult space, that's a barrier too. So I think we can be more thoughtful in general, but also in our approach to these spaces and what they might mean for the way that women understand themselves in relationship to health and fitness."


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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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