Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I am trying not to be a prude.

I grew up Catholic.  And with that comes all the hang-ups about your body, which they will tell you is a beautiful thing, that God made it in his image yadda yadda yadda.  But at the same time, if you show it to anybody, or let anybody touch it, other than your spouse, or touch it yourself other than when you are having a shower, and then ONLY for cleaning, you will burn forevermore in the pits or fire and brimstone.

Talk about sexual repression... I tell you!

I also went to a Catholic all-girls school.  We had private showers after gym.  There was none of this ''girls showering together and walking around naked'' thing that I saw on American TV.  We didn't even let our panties be seen by the rest of the class.

Then I became a young woman, and the consequences of this repression came out in full swing.  No pun intended.  But the mental hang-ups remained, coupled with the whole ''I'm Fat and don't have perfect boobs'' thing that you get from watching TV and reading Cosmo.  This resulted in WONDERFUL self-confidence and body image.

Anyway, I moved to Estonia three years ago.  A HUGE part of Baltic culture is the Sauna.  You might have seen that Britney video where she is writhing seductively in one of them.  Naked, of course.  Because that's how you do sauna.  Naked.  With other people in there too.  All naked.  But they aren't writhing like Britney.  At least not from what I've seen.

I'd managed for the most part to avoid getting nekkid in front of anybody other than hubby, until last week.  You see, I started taking the Angel to the pool... to swim (duh).  And there are no private showers at the pool.  Only those prison-break types.  On my first day, I was surrounded by so many naked bodies, that my eyes went into shock.  In my bikini, I showered let water run over me and kept my eyes glued to the floor, looking up every so often to marvel at these women who walked around in a myriad of sizes, shapes, textures.  Not so many different colours though.  Estonia ain't exactly cosmopolitan.  But I couldn't get over how they just walked around letting it all hang out!  Shocking!!  How could they do that??

I had to try it!  I would face my fears.  Because I am brave and strong and eat my vegetables.  Besides, if these old women, with the flesh and scars of life could do it without a care, then my 30 year old body could do it too.  I'm no pin-up girl, but what I've got ain't that bad.  And besides, it's mine, right?  It keeps my baby and husband happy.  It looks cute enough in jeans.  And it's MINE!  I ought to be proud of it.  Not ashamed.  Every dimple, stretch mark, sag, bump, and lump.  Mine, mine, mine.

I'm still trying to convince myself here.

But I did it.  The second time we went swimming, I took it all off in the showers.  And kept my eyes crazy-glued / evo-stuck / nailed / to the floor.  Several deep breaths included.  I was in and out in seconds.  They probably thought I was a little mad.  While they scrubbed each others backs.  The next time wasn't so hard.  I looked up.  Stayed a bit longer.  And each time it got easier.  Now!  Heck, I'm in the sauna, chilling, well maybe that's a poor choice of word.  I'm in the shower, the locker room... without wishing the floor would open up and swallow me.

What a big deal over NOTHING!!!!

It helps of course that I don't know anybody there.  That helps Big Time.  There's still some work to be done.


Nan said...

Yay you!! This is so good for Angel. Remember Sam and "I loooove your boobies mum, they're soooo soft and hangy-down." We're raising some realistic kids, I guess! Though Sam did look at his pudgy tummy recently and said "Fat". Grrrrrr.

Janelle said...

YAY!!! I'm so proud of you. Though to be fair, Carnival is proof that Trini is not that repressed, lol. Though I am still not to the point where I am willing to put my fat, saggy, stretch marked etc body into a costume anytime soon - I don't care how many others are doing it. :)

witchypoo said...

I still have issues. So good on you!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I applaud your courage! I think it must be easier to overcome those issues in the company of folks who don't have them. (Says the gal who has your issues and lives in Wisconsin where everyone STAYS covered up ALL THE TIME)

sweet said...

character marks. Girl- with PCOS I had acne and weight fluctuations.

Dint want to leave home at all at one point.

My pregnancy with neena at 7 months! is when i wore my 1st bikini.Now there is no turning back!

& as for the getting nekkid- is it really a cathloic thing when we have drinks and sway like snake? I am guilty too!

Kaisa said...

Yey, Theresa, welcome to Estonia :) - you're finally one of us! :P

eye in de sky said...

I'm packing my bikini!
Estonia here I come!!

Anonymous said...

Your not the first catholic I've heard "blame" their "prudishness" on being catholic, but in my case it was my all-girls catholic school that turned me into a bit of a locker room "nudist" of sorts.

My catholic girls-school had those group showers after gym class. We had to shower totally nude completely out in the open, and there were no exceptions, we had to after each and every gym class 5 days a week, grades 7 through 12.

The nuns that taught our gym classes would stand there staring and making sure that we all spent at least ten minutes in the shower. And we weren't allowed to cover up with a towel when walking to the showers or back to our lockers. They would say that "there's nothing indecent about showering and being clean, if you hide your body it's like your saying that it's indecent." So, anyway, my catholic school encouraged open nudity in the girls locker room.

Now as an adult I don't have any problem showering in the group showers at the public pool. It's second nature to me.

In a way it's kind of a liberating feeling to be able to shower (nude) in front of other women without embarrassment.

It will get easier and easier every time you shower in the ladies locker room.


Theresa said...

Wow! What a progressive Catholic school! It still isn't 2nd nature, but I guess everything in time :)

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a recent trip my wife and I took to the beach this past summer with our daughter and two of her friends (11 years old). The bath house had communal showers - two polls with four shower heads around each. My wife said the girls were shocked when they walked into the bath house and saw 15+ naked girls/women in the showers. They were even more shocked when my wife removed her swim suit to take her shower. I think all three eventually took their showers to.