Archive | January, 2011

Locker Rooms: TMI!

29 Jan

Chinese women are stereotyped as modest, quiet, subservient and small in every way. Five minutes in a women’s changing room in Beijing will shatter that illusion. The nudist colony that is my gym locker room is a free zone for revealing as many private parts as possible. Why be discreet about taking off your bra, when you can just rip if off and be done?

So, what are you up to today? One woman asks another as they casually slather their naked thighs and derrieres with lotion. Some women saunter over to the mirror and blow-dry their hair for minutes at a time, staring at themselves and providing not only their actual bodies, but their naked reflections as well for everyone to see. Some of the older ladies, even less modest than the others, prefer to keep the curtain open while they take a shower. They’re the most detailed shower-ers ever. They take they’re time to scrub every inch of their bodies, and I mean every – s i n g l e – inch.

To the men out there, sounds like a dream, right? Wrong. Every once and a while, a really gorgeous Chinese girl, the kind even I don’t even mind checking out, will be changing in the corner. But, for the most part these women should keep their clothes on. In the U.S. even fat women have some muscle definition. Not in China. A typical Chinese women’s workout consists of walking on the treadmill for fifteen minutes before hopping off to stretch for another ten. Not an efficient way to tone and lift.

To make myself clear I don’t want to watch this pornography, I’m subjected to it like torture. I don’t enjoy stepping out of the shower, wrapped in my large modest towel and tiptoeing over to a quiet corner to change, only to be bombarded by breast after breast and endless skin! It’s not pretty.

Even worse, women approach me. Sometimes I come in the morning when almost no one is there. I have the entire, naked-lady – free space to myself, almost. The cleaning ladies love me, or rather they love my skin. Ni de pifu ting bai! (Your skin is so white!) All three of them stand around me in awe, holding mops and admiring up close while I attempt to change clothes “modestly.” Sometimes they stare at my shampoo and lotion. It’s all in English! Haha! I can’t understand any of it! Hahahahaha! One of them says to me.

No kidding.

If I thought this was invasive, the other day I got out of the shower only to see one of them holding my sneaker up to her face and peering under the flap. You have HUGE feet! She said, laughing again and pointing to the size.

There is an upside. Despite the disturbing nudity and unwanted attention from the cleaning ladies, my gym has hot showers, powerful blow driers and attractive male trainers. If only I could somehow get into their locker room…