Wednesday, May 18

Nudity in the gym wardrobe? Yes please!

  • Kjersti Mordal Moen

    Professor, Høgskolen i Innlandet

  • Lars Bjørke

    Associate Professor, Høgskolen i Innlandet

  • Knut Westlie

    Associate Professor, Høgskolen i Innlandet

When we are naked in a wardrobe, we are all vulnerable. Then we need someone to take care of us, the debaters write.

Why do some students find the locker room difficult? Our study may provide some answers.

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

We must talk about nudity, writes Elisa Dahle in a Si; D post on 20 January. She points out that she disagrees with William Lindholm (16), who a few days earlier wrote that it is necessary to have private shower stalls in schools and swimming pools.

According to Lindholm’s post, shower stalls will make it easier for young people who struggle with body pressure. As physical education and wardrobe researchers, however, we must agree with Dahle that this will be too simple a solution.

We have done a large survey of physical education in Norway, where we asked questions about the wardrobe and showering.

The vast majority of students report that they do not experience the locker room as a problematic place. Nevertheless, there are some students who answer that they find the wardrobe challenging. This is not how it should be!

En «black box»

All students should feel safe everywhere in the school, including in the locker room. However, findings from our study may shed light on why some students find the locker room difficult.

We found that more than half of the students (regardless of gender) experience that they are not taken care of when they are there. The wardrobe thus appears as a “black box” – ie a place where it is unclear who is responsible.

The consequence is that the students are left to themselves in a vulnerable situation, where they are naked with their fellow students. That’s not okay either.

A big cheer

Dahle points out that young people today are surrounded by social media that gives fake pictures of body and beauty. Furthermore, she writes: «… the shared shower is exactly what we need now! More innocent, natural nudity … What has become of the good old movies from the 70’s and 80’s that shamelessly showed us bodies in all shapes? The movies that showed us non-sexual nudity, and that it was okay to be real! ”

From our point of view, we want to shout a big cheer for such insightful considerations from a 17-year-old. In the physical education subject, it is a goal that the students should develop understanding and respect for each other and be able to reflect and think critically about the body.

If the wardrobe becomes a “sanctuary” where no adults take care of it, there can of course be unfortunate situations that make the wardrobe counterproductive in that way.

Safe environment

When we are naked in a locker room, whether it is in connection with the gym class or in a public swimming pool, we are all vulnerable. Then we need someone to take care of us.

In public swimming pools there are cloakroom guards. In the gym locker room, it is the teacher who is responsible for ensuring that everyone is well, and that a safe framework is set up for recognizing each other’s different bodies with respect.

To achieve this, the school’s management must make sure that the physical education teacher has time in his everyday work to follow up the students, so that it is safe for them to be naked in the locker room with their classmates.

We strike a blow for nudity in the gym locker room!

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