Let’s not think that body shame is only a women’s issue.
Men also feel that they are physically inadequate when they compare their bodies to media-glamorized images of the male body.
Boys swam naked in American high schools and sometimes teachers or coaches were naked too (although my swimming teacher always wore a swim suit). social history that a practice that millions of men experienced as boys has been suppressed in our collective memory.
I set this in the broader context of naked swimming in America. This reflects a radical change in social mores today that reflects different attitudes toward nudity, privacy, and the body than were common in earlier times in America.
But many remain dissatisfied with their bodies because the results are never quite as perfect as they desired.
A fifth reason for writing this article is that religions have played a role in inculcating negative attitudes toward the body, for example, by their emphasis on modesty in dress.
It was traditional for boys to swim naked and no one saw any reason to break with the tradition until cultural mores changed radically during the 1960s.
When we got to the gym our guide pointed out that the climbing poles and ropes had been removed and climbing was no longer a part of the school gym curriculum. I was sad to hear that the ropes and poles were gone because I had actually done well in climbing in the 7th and 8th grades and did it in the boys gymnastic show in P. We were often shirtless in elementary school gym class, which was a situation in which adolescent boys were often insecure because our bodies were developing at wildly different rates.
But perhaps some of our current attitudes and views need to be challenged, including our attitudes toward and views about nudity today which are almost exclusively associated with sexuality. Chapter 3 in my book is entitled, “Naked Bodies, Clothed Bodies.” Nakedness is a powerful religious and spiritual symbol.
(I actually first broached this topic of swimming naked at the YMCA in my “Frank Answer About Being Naked Before God”—written before I went to my class reunion.) Philosophically, I don’t think that the body is just something that we have, as if the real me is something other than the body (like the mind or the soul).
Reasons for this Blog Article Why would I even be interested in responding to the issue of naked swimming in the schools in the old days with a blog article? First, here was a practice most men experienced as recently as fifty years ago, and is a living memory for many of us, and people don’t know about it.
Some even deny it happened because it doesn’t fit our current cultural mores.