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"As a father, I'd prefer my kids be proud rather than ashamed in swim school change rooms."

The following post is in response to an article previously published on Mamamia, titled:“The shocking behaviour in swim school change rooms that makes me uncomfortable as a mum.”

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Sometimes you find minefields in the most unlikely of places. You take your kids to a swimming lesson, have a shower, and all of a sudden someone is up in arms about it.

“Where has the common decency gone from swim school change rooms?”

Uh oh. Are people spreading their stuff all over the benches? Are they leaving rubbish? Nope, they’re… getting changed.

“As a woman who visits these change rooms often with my two daughters, I can say with certain authority that 99 per cent of women are pretty modest in these environments. They seek some sort of privacy – whether it is their towel, using clothing as a screen or even if it is just turning to face toward the wall to get dressed.

“If they shower they do it in their bathers, and they are quick, in and out. This isn’t because we are all self-conscious, rather because we are respectful of others around us and where we actually are. We are in there with purpose, to get ourselves changed and our kids changed and to get the hell out.”

Showering in your bathers? What on earth for? ‘Where you actually are’ is a change room. And we are indeed in there with a purpose, which is getting changed. It’s right there in the name. The body isn’t something that needs to be hidden. Especially when you’re in the shower.

We wear clothes most of the time. I’m not here to argue against that. But sometimes we are between clothes. And in those times we see parts we don’t normally see. And if you believe there is something wrong with that, then I guess we need to have a talk. Because I see the body as just a normal thing.

kids in mens change room
Daniel Morrison with his two youngchildren. Image: Supplied.
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Everyone has one, we were born with it. It is literally us. Our one true home, our personal vehicle for navigating this beguiling world. Some are big, some are small, some are leathered, some are smooth. They are all just wrappings around a soul. And if you should happen to see one in a change room, it is utterly ordinary and unremarkable.

“But apparently in [the men’s], it is more like a nudist colony, where your birthday suit is the outfit choice of many and the outfit they seem very proud to show off. It seems that […] often men will strip right down, butt naked in order to change and/or shower.”

I mean, yeah. Unless you’re Mr Bean, I’m baffled as to how you could do it any other way.

I guess there are three ways of conducting yourself while naked in a change room:

  1. Embarrassed and quick.
  2. No different to being clothed anywhere else.
  3. More flamboyant than usual.

Number two makes the most sense to me, and I can’t say I’ve seen much of number three. But I would argue that the only harmful one is the first. I’d certainly prefer my children to be proud rather than ashamed.

There’s no reason to show off, but there’s definitely no reason to hide.

“And it isn’t a quick process, often this exhibition will involve a relaxing and very thorough shower, then a further parade naked to their towel."

At our pool they make us pay 50 cents for a few minutes, and the water pressure is wonderful. And if anyone expects me to waste any of those cents, well, they are going to be very disappointed.

We don’t have trombones and confetti, we’re just walking out of the shower. Is there music? No. If there was, would we dance? Probably. Would that be weird? Maybe.

But as it is, we’re just trying our best to not slip over or trample a small child.

“They then proceed to put the towel down before sorting through the swim bag to find their clothing, then at the speed of a snail, they finally get dressed.”

Here’s something to consider: Bodies with hair on them take a bit longer to dry than bodies without. A bit of air helps things along nicely, otherwise you’re walking around slightly damp or the rest of the day.

And what’s with the rushing? Slow and steady wins the race, right? Change rooms are where things get lost and forgotten. Take your time, people.

“As a mother of two young children I have to question is this really appropriate?”

As a father of two young children, I have to answer. Yes.

kids in men change rooms
"Everyone’s just getting by, you know?" Image: Supplied.
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“It isn’t the football locker rooms, it is a swim school change room.”

Yeah, a change room. Where people get changed. Where they take their clothes off, and put other ones on. It’s literally the entire function of the place.

“[My kids] don’t need to bear witness to your adult sized genitals on full display.”

Honestly, it’s pretty hurtful to hear that. Everyone’s just getting by, you know? Life’s hard enough as it is, then you have kids, and if they don’t know how to swim they could drown. That’s a lot of pressure right there. So they go to swim school.

A lot of the time they don’t want to be there at all, so they scream the roof off while being held by some stranger in a cold pool. And you tell yourself it’s for their own good, but it still hits you in the heart.

Then when it’s over you’ve have to rebuild the trust with this tiny human who doesn’t understand how you could betray them like that, so you’ve got to get them warm and dry as safely as possible. And now on top of all that we’re getting grief about our genitals?

Here’s what I think they don’t need to bear witness to – the idea that there is something implicitly shameful about their bodies.

“There is a time and a place for showing off your bits and this is not the one.”

It’s showers in a change room. On the list of ‘times and places’ where you can expect to see some bits, this up there in the top three, along with birthing suites and SBS.

“Whatever your views on swim school change room behaviours, I think as humans we should remember that not everyone views nudity the same way. Perhaps the time and place to [..] put your opinion ‘on display’ for all to see might not be the same place where we take our children to learn to swim.”

Well, take it up with management I suppose. Now I’ve still got 45 seconds left in this shower, so please give us this moment of peace.

What's your opinion on swim school change rooms? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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