MagazineFebruary 2011Modesty, Please

Modesty, Please

An open letter to the guys who insist on hanging out naked in the locker room

I’m going to say something I never thought I’d say, but here it is: I’m tired of seeing people naked. Specifically, I’m tired of seeing old men naked. Even more specifically, I’m tired of seeing you naked, sirs. You know who you are: the gaggle of old men who insist on hanging out “au naturel” in the locker room of the YMCA. I understand that locker rooms are for changing clothes and that a certain amount of nudity can be expected. I can tolerate limited nudity. I get naked in there too. But it’s brief. I minimize my naked impact. I don’t, for instance, brush my teeth wearing just my birthday suit with my junk dangling dangerously close to the sink. No sir, I don’t do that.

I’m willing to admit that as a good guilt-ridden Catholic, I was taught that any part of the body between the knees and shoulders was shameful (yes, the belly button too). I have issues, there’s no denying that. But I don’t think you have to be a puritan to think it’s inappropriate to have a five-minute conversation about Obama’s health care policies in the buff. And if there’s a curtain on the shower stall, don’t you think you should use it? Nobody wants to see you work the soap into a rich lather. And why in the world can’t you pull on some tightie-whities before you walk around the locker room rubbing q-tips in your ears? Please sir, tell me, what part of cleaning your ears requires nudity? And do I really have to detail the various body parts it is not okay to dry beneath the wall-mounted hand-dryer? I feel like that should be pretty obvious. After all, it is called a hand dryer, not a…you get the picture.

In your defense, rampant nudity isn’t just a problem in the locker room at our gym. I wish that was the only place I had to witness copious amounts of human flesh. At the first 24-hour bike race I did, this chick stripped down to nothing in order to change her kit right next to me. No towel, no underwear, just the goods that God gave her. I usually have to pay $12.99 on pay per view for that sort of action. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished a group ride only to be subjected to one random guy who insists on changing clothes in front of everyone. We’re all milling around the parking lot, sipping beers and telling lies about how big we hit certain jumps, maybe some of us are changing discreetly back into our street clothes, and this one guy (you know who you are, dude) drops trou right there next to his car. In plain view. WTF? Wrap a towel around your waist, man, how hard is that? And turning around so your business is facing the car door doesn’t count. I don’t care if it’s dusk, everyone else in the parking lot can still see your full moon. Show some discretion, man.

And a year doesn’t go by that some triathlete isn’t disqualified because he/she decided to go bare beneath their wet suit. Imagine the shock of that unsuspecting wet suit peeler as they unzip the suit to find a nudist underneath.

Look, I can see where there’s room for interpretation on the nudity around sports topic. There’s a great tradition of athletes competing nude. Those sumo wrestling dudes are basically wearing thongs and hugging. That’s cool. The Olympics had a strong nudist phase back in the day. Awesome. And I like the ESPN Magazine Body Issue as much as the next pervert. But there is a time and place for nudity.

Perhaps I should break it down for you so that there’s no misunderstanding.

Partial nudity in sumo wrestling: acceptable.

Naked coed Jello wrestling: encouraged.

The occasional nude mile run: okay, an argument can be made for that.

Hanging out naked on the pleather couch in the locker room while watching SportsCenter: inappropriate.

Why is there even a couch and TV in the locker room, YMCA management? That just seems to encourage this sort of Roman bath behavior. If this is the sort of exhibitionism that goes on in the well-lit locker room “lounge,” I’d hate to see what’s going down in the anonymity of the steam room.

And let’s get real here. What I’m really complaining about here is who’s getting naked in front of me. If, say, Jessica Biel decided to get naked during a triathlon transition, I probably wouldn’t raise my hand in protest. But here’s the truth that most people who care about you simply will not tell you. Are you ready for it? I’m going to drop some deep knowledge on you: Sir, you’re not Jessica Biel. Or Brad Pitt for that matter. Hell, I’m not Brad Pitt either. The fact is, the vast majority of us don’t look that good naked. Our wives humor us thanks to a combination of love and pity, but generally, we’re not attractive naked. I understand that you’ve been working really hard in the gym and you’re dying for someone to comment on your obliques, but it’s not going to happen in the locker room of the YMCA. Sir, do me a favor, and have a little modesty please. Take that towel from around your head and wrap it around your waist. •

Appropriately Nude Sports

Still insist on getting nude in athletic situations? Sign up for one of these clothing optional runs.

Running Bare 5K
Cedar Creek Park, S.C. (April)

Fig Leaf 5K
Paradise Valley Resort, Ga. (April)

5K Trail Streak
Hidden River Resort, Ga. (May)

Whitetails 5K Run
White Tail Resort, Va. (June)

Sun Bare Whispers 5K
Whispering Pines Nudist Resort, N.C. (September)

Places to Go, Things to See: