Have you ever wondered why guys avoid being naked in locker rooms? Is it about society’s rules? How we’re raised? Perhaps, a sign of the changing times? Check out this article we found on the subject – edited for brevity – by Kevin Frye on medium.com.

There I was, twenty-three years old, standing in the almost empty locker room of the YMCA with nothing but my swim trunks on. I was nervous, wet, and needed to shower before getting dressed and heading off to work. There was just one problem: I’d never gotten naked in a place where people could see me before.

I’d been raised in a conservative Christian home, which was mostly good, and had been homeschooled all twelve years of my academic education, which was also mostly good, but all together it meant nudity had been a lifelong no-no. I’d been taught not to show my body or to look at other naked bodies in any context. I’d never been into sports, so I’d never been in a situation where I might find myself in a locker room with other boys when I was growing up. I’d never gone camping with a group of guys where I’d heard things like skinny dipping sometimes happened. So, what was I doing there in the locker room of the YMCA as a grown man?

I worked a mile down the street and passed that YMCA every day. One day, I felt God nudging me to go in there. I dismissed it and kept driving. The next day, as I passed the YMCA, I felt the nudge again. Again, I dismissed it. This kept happening until I eventually left for work much earlier than usual and stopped in at the Y on my way there. I sincerely was interested in joining a gym for exercise and to swim, so I thought I’d look into it. I went up to the front desk and asked for a tour. I was taken around and shown the exercise room, the classrooms, the running track, the basketball court, the cafeteria, the swimming pool… and then, all the way downstairs to the locker room. When the tour was finished, I signed up. No doubts about it.

What was I doing? Good little Christian boys weren’t supposed to get naked, and certainly not in a place where they could be seen! I was sure that if my mother or father or my pastor or that lady who sat behind me in church or anyone else who knew me knew that I was joining a gym — a place with a strong emphasis on the physical body and where people got naked in the locker rooms — I’d get weird looks from people and questions asking me, “Why are you going there? Are you really going to change clothes in the locker room? And why are you working out at the gym? You don’t need to lose any weight!” Did men still actually get naked in locker rooms anymore? I wasn’t sure, but judging by the open showers, I assumed the answer was yes.

And I knew that was really what I was hoping for. I was terrified of it, sure, but God had been working on me for a while by this time regarding my body image, my confidence, and how I saw myself as a man, and I wanted to take the next step forward. I’d struggled for a long time feeling different from and inferior to other men. I felt less masculine somehow. I felt like a little boy trapped in a grown man’s body. By the time I was twenty-three, I knew it was time to grow out of this bad mindset and move on. I felt like I’d already come a long way, but there was still one more hurdle to overcome: nudity.

So, I looked around as I stood there in the locker room. There were a couple guys, but nobody was near me. I slid my swim trunks off, stuffed them into my locker, and grabbed my towel. But, wait a minute… I had come this far in my journey toward wholeness and manhood, gained a lot of ground in accepting my body as it was, in seeing myself as a full man, equal to other men, become secure in my identity and sexuality, and this was all that was left. Was I really going to cheat myself out of it by wrapping a towel around my waist?

No way. I had something to prove. I put the towel in my locker, slammed the door shut, and walked the twenty feet over to the showers, balls hanging. I turned on the water and washed myself as other guys passed by on their ways to the swimming pool and back. When I finished, I went back to my locker and dried off. Perhaps to my surprise, nobody said anything. Nobody stared. There were other guys in there by now, but nobody seemed to care that I was standing there completely naked.

That’s just what men did. They got naked in the locker room. Nothing else to it.

After I got dressed, I walked out of the YMCA and out to my car with my head high and my chest out. I’d done it! I’d proven to myself and to all of heaven and hell that I, Kevin Frye, was a man among men. There was nothing to fear or feel insecure about. I had gained a serious victory that day.

And to this day, I still go naked in the locker room. Why cover up? If other guys don’t want to see nudity, they can change their clothes in the restroom or go home. Locker rooms exist as a place where nudity is expected and accepted. Unfortunately, many gyms across the country are remodeling their facilities to make it virtually if not entirely impossible for patrons to socialize with each other in the locker rooms or be seen nude.

There are numerous reasons for this and many articles have been written about the recent stigma nudity holds for the younger generations that their parents and grandparents simply never thought about. I won’t get into all of that here. What I will say is that it’s sad and it’s wrong for us to stand by and let this trend continue unopposed.

Nudity has taught me about the human body. It has taught me about myself. It has proven to me that no physical body is perfect, and that what is portrayed in advertisements, on TV, in movies, and in online pornography is all a very tiny portion of the population. Most people simply don’t look like that and it’s okay if I don’t, either. Being naked and accepted is one of the most affirming experiences I’ve had. I feel strong, confident, and secure when I’m nude in a natural environment. I’m not a nudist or naturist; I’m just taking a shower at the gym and getting dressed. But those few minutes of nudity proves to me again and again my identity and my equality with other men.

It’s sad to me, then, that so many men wrap towels around themselves, hide behind shower curtains, do all of their changing behind closed doors, or simply go home and never show skin in the locker room. What are they afraid of? What are they ashamed of? And why do so many people think fear and shame and poor body image and alienation from their peers are all normal things that just need to be accepted?

It is for this reason that I do not believe any man has fully stepped into the wholeness of his manhood if he refuses to get undressed around other men. It’s not a matter of nudity. Nudity is simply the expression of a deeper truth. Fear and shame are what need to be overcome, and if a man is still controlled by fear and shame to the point that he is unable to be seen naked by his peers, then he hasn’t overcome the enemy that oppresses him and stunts his growth into complete manhood. If a man simply doesn’t like hanging out naked, that’s one thing. But being afraid of nudity or feeling shame when nude is something else. It’s not the nudity that needs to be welcomed; it’s the fear and shame that need to be overcome. And I believe acceptance and comfort in nudity will naturally follow afterward.

So, what can we do about this? Well, for one thing, get naked. I mean it. If you’re already comfortable with being naked and you get invited to go on a camping trip with friends, go skinny dipping in the lake. Or sleep naked. Don’t hide when changing your clothes. If you have a workout buddy you go to the gym with, don’t cover up or wrap a towel around yourself in the locker room. Just do what you’d normally do, nudity and all, and don’t try to hide anything just because your friend is there. A lot of men, I’ve found, are much more comfortable with nudity than we give them credit for, but they just don’t want to be the ones to initiate it.

And if you’re the one who is afraid or embarrassed about getting naked, hope is not lost. First, do some serious soul searching and think about why it is you’re afraid of getting naked with other guys. Are you afraid of being mocked or laughed at? Were you traumatized at an early age and left with an inner wound? Do you have an unrealistic image of yourself or of the ideal male body that you feel you don’t live up to? Seriously, get to the bottom of this and find out what is feeding your fear and shame.

What’s your take on this? Ever been in a similar situation? Why do you reckon guys are still uneasy about being nude around others? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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