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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

P.E. Classes

By Johna Ferguson

Those classes have left a lasting impression on my mind. They must have been finely etched on my brain since I remember them so well as pretty traumatic affairs.

In my upbringing, privacy was highly valued. One always shut the bathroom door when you were in there, brushing teeth or whatever. One always shut the bedroom door when you were dressing or undressing. That’s just how it was.

I have no memory of ever seeing my mother or father attired in their under garments, not even at our crowded beach house with the washing sink on the living room wall. We just took turns using it and we waited in our rooms until others were finished.

Therefore, entering a gym locker room filled with 35 partially clad young bodies like mine in the 7th grade practically blew my mind away. Sure, when I had friends over either in town or at the beach, the two of us would dress and undress in front of each other, never a problem of modesty until we started menstruating in junior high.

Then, probably from embarrassment, we often dressed in the bathroom alone but during that time only. But we had watched as each of us grew hair under our arms, in our pubic areas and started to grow breasts but we knew that those were just expected normal events.

But to see 35 girls undressing all at once to take communal showers after running races in middle school gym class was shocking. First, their bodies were all shapes and sizes. Parts of our bodies we had never thought much about all of a sudden were flaunted or hidden in front of our eyes.

Some well developed girls were proud of their bigger breasts, parading around stark naked showing off, while some over or under-weight girls hid, wrapped completely in their towels. Some of us were wearing training bras, a couple of the younger ones were still in undershirts and then others were enthusiastically comparing their bra sizes.

As I peered around I decided, luckily I was just average. I wasn’t short or tall, not fat or thin and didn’t have ugly warts or blemishes anywhere. But I did pity some of the girls who had problems. I wanted to comfort them, but at least there was no teasing of any of any kind.

We all realized at that moment that what we had was it and nothing much could change it. If our legs were short, we couldn’t magically lengthen them. If we didn’t have big busts – well, maybe eventually we might and if not, we’d have to be satisfied with what God gave us.

Eventually many of us learned how to compensate if we didn’t like our looks. Those with straight hair could have a perm and have instant curly hair. Those with short legs could wear shoes and stockings that made one’s legs look longer. Those with no bosoms could wear falsies and those with big ones could learn to dress them down a little with less bright colors and styles.

Somehow we all grew up and learned to live with our bodies in spite of imperfections. By the time my friends and I reached high school we were no longer amazed at anything in the gym locker room. We’d learned to accept our bodies as they were, good or bad, and we pretty much ignored them; other things were much more important in our lives then, like planning our futures.

But if anyone has a secret way to enhance my boobs not using silicone implants, please let me know, but only on the sly.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Johna - Thanks for the visit inside the girl's shower room!

I had the same experience inside the boy's shower room - except the appendages being compared were somewhat anatomically different. - Sandy

Johna, we really did grow up in another time, no matter the place geographically..we wore gym suits that looked like l890s bathing suits with a little skirt attached to shorts & blouse, yucky green..came to mid knee..we were told on gym day (once a week only) to wear the gym suit with our uniform skirt, navy blue below knee..there were no showers, etc..or dressing rooms..when we started to get p/t jobs after school at l6, usually junior year, and had to go to work, we often got in trouble for standing against the wall after gym & having friends shield us while we took off the yucky gymsuit and put on our uniform blouse with bowtie, of course, so we didn't go to little jobs in that get-up...even as I write this, I recall getting reprimanded & knowing full well I would do it again and again..I was a bold piece of work for l2 years of Catholic grammar and hs..most of my friends also changed on gym days...funny how you forget those little memories of hs...Once the gym teacher, a woman, of course, made an announcement that we should not use our gymsuit for anything other than gym class..as we all stood there perplexed, someone muttered something like, "oh no, and I was thinking of wearing it to Coney Island,"...there we all stood after the stage whisper, holding in our guffaws, waiting for Miss somebody to say something back..Instead she went right on, a little red in her cheeks, to the schedule for that day...whenever we meet for our annual luncheon someone always remembers that & we all have a good life..thanks for the reminder..haven't seen the word "falsies" in a dog's age either...I could have used a pair myself back then....

Times have really changed. No more bathing suit cover-ups or modesty. Girls here on the beach and sidewalks walk around in skimpy bikinis. They might as well be naked.

Parents give their daughters breast implants as graduation gifts.

As for answering your last question, we used to stuff socks in our bras! Might want to try that now, Johna!

Here's something I find confusing.
When we were in junior high and high school we always took nude group showers in gym class. Yes, we were required to in most cases. But most of us would have anyway. It was only our female classmates and the gym teacher that were seeing us in the nude, and many of us were friends anyway, so the nudity wasn't an issue for us.

However, we always dressed conservatively in public. We didn't flaunt our bodies in front of boys or men. We didn't speak graphically about sex, we didn't use fowl language or sleep around. Of course there were some girls like that, but they were in the minority.

Many girls these days go nearly naked in public. They sleep around with countless boys and have dirtier mouths than many men do.

Yet, when I'm in the ladies locker room at the YWCA, so many of the teen girls appear to be afraid to be nude there.

Those of us that are over the age of 30 have no issues with changing and even showering in the nude in the open shower-room. But probably 9 out of every 10 teen girls showers in her bathing suit and even changes in and out of their bathing suit in a filthy toilet stall.

Some of these teen girls these days really have their priorities out of whack!

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