Nude Swimming, Showering, Some Personal Thoughts

Nude Swimming, Showering, Some Personal Thoughts

Joined: January 17th, 2012, 11:31 pm

January 23rd, 2012, 2:55 am #1

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
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Joined: May 9th, 2005, 12:05 pm

January 23rd, 2012, 12:47 pm #2

We certainly had communal showers when I was in junior high and high school some 50 years ago. Some things about it I recall quite well.

The junior high school I attended had been a high school before the new high school was built in the late 1950s and in fact, my mother graduated from there in 1932. So the building had been around. The changing room was a narrow low room with pipes overhead and peeling paint everywhere, which also described the shower room that was down the hall and around the corner. This school was in the middle of a small town and had no parking lot. The gym was entirely underground.

The high school was virtually new. The changing room was just a large room with chairs around the walls where you left your clothes. The shower room was at one end and actually smaller than the one in junior high school. In both places, everything was done in great haste. I have no memory of soap being used in the shower. All of this was done and over with inside of two minutes. That is at least one big difference between taking and shower and being nude in a swimming class for 50 minutes. The other was that there was no supervision, the assumption no doubt being that you knew how to put on your own clothes.

I did have a group nude swimming experience when I worked in Amherst, Massachusetts, with other teenagers doing summer work on farms. We got to make two visits to the UMass pool, where nude swimming was the rule (although there was no rule you had to go swimming). Again, there were no strangers around and it wasn't a class or anything; just a recreational swim. I do know the nudity bothered some of the boys, even though we were all from the country in West Virginia where boys are supposed to go skinny-dipping all the time, which wasn't so.

Nude swimming at the YMCA? Never set foot in a YMCA in my life. The only thing I had trouble believing is that a high school would actually have a swimming pool.

I don't know that the 1950s were any more conservative than now; they were just different. But they had a highly developed sense of ignoring certain things. Homosexuals certainly existed then (but gay wasn't the term), though that wasn't a subject for polite conversation. So most boys grew up totally ignorant of things like that, along with a lot of other things, as has often been the case throughout history. You might say we were "protected." That's not the case anymore and all of the school scandals and Catholic church scandals, along with fear of gays, killed off any pretension of innocence. People still pretend about some things, though, and imagine things that aren't so (and never were). For instance, if such and such a thing doesn't bother me, why should I assume it doesn't bother anyone else?
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Joined: January 17th, 2012, 11:31 pm

January 24th, 2012, 12:30 am #3

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
True. Just because communal showering didn't bother me doesn't mean it didn't bother other boys or girls, and I suppose I shouldn't dismiss their discomfort with the practice. But I think there may be some larger questions involved.

When we're in school or in other institutional settings, we're "required" to do all kinds of things. They're not always appealing. A couple times it was a requirement that I give an oral presentation in front of the class. This was 20 times scarier to me than taking a communal shower. From about 8 to 13 my Dad absolutely made me and my older brother and sister go to Confession three times a year. This was absolutely BLOOD-SWEATING traumatic for me, 100's of times scarier than my communal showering. These are just a couple of the worse "requirements" I had growing up. If I hadn't been "required", been "pushed", to do these things, and dozens of others, would I have lost out on something valuable, and regreted it to this day? Would I have lost the opportunity to confront my fears? I know a young man in his twenties with a liberal mother who sent him to some "hippie" school, where he never really had to do anything. By the time he was in his late teens, he felt rudderless.

I don't know how valid or compelling the "hygienic rationales" for showering or nude swimming were, from say, the 50's onward. I think they were valid before then, but lost there force at some point. But could there have been some "social value" that society "intuited" but was too tin the value of group nudity, though it was too taboo to articulate?

I was terrible at P.E. and yes, it "bothered" me, a lot, that I played so badly, and was so humiliated at team sports so often. But in retrospect, I'm glad I was exposed to them. If I hadn't been "required" to, I really think I'd feel a loss for it today. One problem is, adults---parents, teachers, administrators---can never really know how a child's going to feel about what he or she's made to do, or wasn't given the opportunity, requirement or encouragement to, after they grow up. Sometimes being "made" to do something "let's them off the hook" because they're not responsible for the decision. Being made to be a "skin" helped me work against my shirtless-phobia, because it was "okay". It was "required".

Maybe there's a value in helping a boy (or girl) overcome inhibitions that many have, which are just as valid as exposing them to the social cohesion involved in team sports, or in any other "socialization" process. Maybe there's greater kindness in "requiring" some things---and MAYBE, non-sexual group nudity is one of them---than enabling inhibitions to fester. Here and there I see comments which reflect my own feelings---that some envy what others were "required" to do, and wish they'd've been. Maybe all this cloying "sensitivity" is more for the convenience of the adults than the children. Maybe they're creating emotional cripples.

I'm against homophobia. Let's not blame kids who may've been gay, bi or just uncertain about their sexuality for all this. It's probably never going to happen, but if required communal showers and nude swimming were ever to make a come back, there would need to be a new ettiquette. A kid's sexuality should be his own business and not a matter of discussion at the pool or showers. If somebody gets an erection, politely ignore it. Boys have hormones coursing through their vains and, and gay, straight or bi, they're always going to get erections. (I remember when I was 14 and it seemed like a had an erection in class fully clothed and as far as I remember, for not particular reason. It could be VERY uncomfortable!) In a word, teachers, coaches, etc., should skillfully teach and enforce civility.

I've read comments by many gays who said they treasured the experience of nude swimming just as much as the straights, and gays who wished they could've swam nude. And many straights, who weren't uptight about the possibility of being admired by a gay.

Maybe I over estimated total showering time. We did have soap dispensers on the shower head posts and I and I think everybody else used them to lather up. You couldn't hurry too fast. There were guys coming and going. If you tried, you'd probably be running into them and stubbing your toe on benches and everything.

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Joined: May 9th, 2005, 12:05 pm

January 24th, 2012, 12:56 pm #4

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
Nice posting. It covered a lot of good points. Here are some more.

Some of the people, virtually all guys, who like to talk about how great things were back when they all took showers together in school or swam nude at the Y like to imagine that's the way it always was. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything had a beginning somewhere.

And another thing is that we tend to apply present day values (concerning almost everything) to the past. I suppose that is unavoidable but sometimes it leads to assuming things were done a certain way in the past that weren't exactly done that way.

First off, everyone going through high school is a relatively recent thing. My father never attended high school and in fact never finished grade school. He lived in the country. All of this business of casual group nudity would have been a complete mystery to him. Some have said when I pointed out this fact merely said, yeah, well, you lived in the sticks. So what? Is what people talking about then only about a few people or what? It's another case of if a person does something, they assume everyone else did it, too. And as far as I know, my father had not only never been to the YMCA, he had never heard of it. I don't think he was ever in a swimming pool in his life. And the last time he was in water over his knees was when he went ashore at Salerno in 1944. He was in the army and believe me, there is a certain group nudity (also rushed) there, too, but (believe me), there is no casual nudity in the barracks. On top of that, he was 29 when he went through basic training, which coincidentally was at the same place both me and my son went through basic training (Ft. Knox, KY). But he was ten years older than me and my son when he was in training.

There was some validity to the progressive thinking about hygiene, which was the original idea behind the showers at school, although you for sure don't get any cleaner with another person in the shower. This progressive trend goes back to before my father was born. But even when I was little, the Saturday night bath was still the custom and my father managed to survive into his 80s with no more than one bath a week. We never had a shower. Funny how after we get some mod con, we suddenly are unable to survive without it. The power goes off and it's the end of life as we know it.

Smaller kids of grade school age tend to be more forgiving and accepting of differences (not necessarily understanding, however). But somehow by the time they are in high school they seem to pick up ideas about not being different and so on and so forth. It must be learned behavior. The question is, who taught them? Which reminds me of a story.

My wife and I went to a Christmas party with her co-workers, all of whom are school teachers. The subject came up about how the kids are so aware of sex and stuff, more than is being taught in school (which wasn't taught at all when I was in school). Someone asked the question, "Where do they learn this stuff?" Another answered, "In the bus on the way to school."

Right away another teacher commented, "No wonder I was a late bloomer. I walked to school!"
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Joined: January 17th, 2012, 11:31 pm

January 26th, 2012, 12:49 am #5

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
Thanks, Blue.

I think I know what you're alluding to. On the Nude Sleepers Forum the spiel goes something like this:

Back in day just about every boy, teenager and college student swam nude. Everyboy over the age of 6 slept shirtless or nude because just about every Dad did, because they were real men. And all the young stud-hunk college dudes hung out buck naked with total non-chalant confidence in their dorm and when they happened be hangin' out at the beach if they weren't already nude they stripped down for the shere hell of it and broke out into spontaneous games of beach soccer which they played with exquisite masculine skill. The very few who slept in a shirt, or worse yet, pajamas, were wimpy, immature, effeminate mama's boys whom no girl ever liked.

Okay. I've been kind of ignoring all that.

Thing is, many of us had very different experiences, grew up in different regional and FAMILY cultures. I slept in shorts and a T until I was about, I don't know, 13 or 14 I guess. I got some pajamas for Xmas and tried them out. I guess I thought they were "high class". Anyway, at some point I started wearing bottoms with a T. There weren't really any opinions by my Dad what was good or bad to sleep in. It was a non-issue. But he never slept shirtless. My uncle and cousin did, and when I stayed over night there my cousin insisted I sleep shirtless too, which I did.

Plenty of men, as manly as any other, slept in different kinds of sleep wear. I didn't see many sleeping nude, but again, I never paid much attention. Hey, I think it's great to sleep nude and shirtless, and I do myself and like it, but I don't think the less of those who don't.

In a way, as a non-parent, it's none of my business whether kids do shirtless PE, communally shower, or swim naked. That's ultimately for the parents, kids, teachers, etc. to hash out. I do suspect they may be missing out on something and feeding hang-ups that might make them unhappy, but as you seem to suggest, maybe I'm projecting my regrets onto them.

My HS didn't have swimming pool and I was 20, 25 miles from the nearest possible YMCA (if that close, I lived in the "sticks" too). I never learned to swim. Nobody had time to teach me. (I just inner tubed, dog paddled, underwater swam and splashed around, suited, of course, like everybody else.) I regret I never had the nude swim experience, but life is what it is.

Maybe only a few young people regret not having what I and others have. Maybe most don't care that much.

I imagine kids have learned about sex for decades from TV, and more recently from the Internet.
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David
David

January 26th, 2012, 3:47 am #6

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
Noel writes > Back in day just about every boy, teenager and college student swam nude. Everyboy over the age of 6 slept shirtless or nude because just about every Dad did, because they were real men. And all the young stud-hunk college dudes hung out buck naked with total non-chalant confidence in their dorm and when they happened be hangin' out at the beach if they weren't already nude they stripped down for the shere hell of it and broke out into spontaneous games of beach soccer which they played with exquisite masculine skill. The very few who slept in a shirt, or worse yet, pajamas, were wimpy, immature, effeminate mama's boys whom no girl ever liked.

I agree, Noel, that it probably wasn't like this everywhere back in the day, although for some people who knows. When I was growing up (I'm 49 and grew up near New York City), I think it was generally expected that guys ought not to be afraid or ashamed of being seen naked in all-male settings for "utilitarian" reasons ... showering, changing clothes in a locker room or camping situation, etc. Girls were expected to have modesty, but not guys, at least not in those kinds of settings. I never swam regularly in all-male settings ... swim lessons at the Y circa 1970 were mixed gender, Scout camp was in a public lake ... although there were occasional "skinny dipping" opportunities in remoter camping locations where pretty much everyone got naked without much fanfare.

At the same time, it was considered a bit unusual to actively want to be naked beyond the utilitarian context. I slept naked on Scout camping trips, but hardly anyone else ever did. It may have been seen as "different," but not as "weird" or "perverted" or "gay," as it probably would be today. At least not that I remember anyone saying to my face. :-) Likewise, I slept naked most of the time in college. I never had a roommate who did, but (with one exception) they didn't care that I did, or that I'd be naked in the dorm room for a few minutes while getting ready for bed or while getting organized in the morning. And even in these situations, I always felt that it would be pushing limits to be naked when just hanging out, as opposed to getting ready for bed, coming back from the shower, etc. I guess these situations were close enough to being "utilitarian" nudity to seem appropriate, or at least not inappropriate.

I'm not sure why the frankly non-utilitarian nudity that some people tell stories about never seemed appropriate, at least not in the social settings I grew up in. It's not because being seen naked, or being naked, around other guys was somehow problematic ... when there was a reason for it, the socially accepted thing was to be nonchalant about it. Perhaps being naked for no particular reason -- or because one actually liked being naked -- violated the "nonchalance" rule.

I'm pretty sure that, if I had grown up in a setting where truly casual nudity was more accepted, I would have gone naked a lot more than I did. I have the sense that some of those settings still existed when I was growing up in the 70s, but I never really stumbled upon them.
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Noel1835
Noel1835

February 8th, 2012, 2:08 am #7

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
Thanks, David.

My understanding from a 3-part YouTube documentary on nude high school swimming, that in a few rare cases, girls were required to swim nude. There was such a clamor from the mothers that in most schools they put an end to it, though a few continued it for a while. But yes, it was a rare exception.

Also, girls communally showered nude just like the boys back in the days when that was required, so in that respect they weren't any different. Strange, when I hear a lot angst and horror about communal showering these days, it seems to be mostly from boys. I never hear girls say, "Oh God, we I might have to take a communal shower! What will I DO?!!!"

I don't have any problem with the guys who hung out naked in their dorms, I just think it's a little ridiculous when they seem to employ EVERYBODY did it, and if you didn't you were really WIERD.

My understanding is that nude swimming was done only in some states, mostly midwest, southern and east coast, not in others, but maybe all the facts aren't in.


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Joined: May 9th, 2005, 12:05 pm

February 8th, 2012, 12:17 pm #8

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
Well, it is my understanding that nude swimming in schools was more common in the north and north central states. Like I mentioned earlier in this thread, my group nude swimming experience was in Massachusetts and almost 50 years ago. Among other things, anyone who experiences such things as an adult, either by being involved in school or at the YMCA (including women), will really be getting along in years now. So there won't be a lot of first hand experiences from that age group to hear about.

I personally don't understand what people are talking about when they say real men sleep nude or at least that they don't wear pajamas. For most boys, how do they know what other fathers wear in bed. My experience is naturally limited to my family and relatives and I assure you, they were all men. None of them had college and in fact, my father never even finished grade shool. They all had some sort of manual occupation. Half of those I knew worked for the railroad.

Let's see, of those of whom I have personal knowledge, I count two PJ wearers and one who slept in his underwear. There was another father (of a boy I spent the night with once) but I have no recollection of what he wore. I have no personal, first hand experience of anyone else's bedroom habits. I don't think any of them that I knew had any group nude experiences at the time. They were also a once-a-week bath crowd, too.

Once, a couple of years ago, I asked a lady here, probably in her 40s, if she had to take showers in school. Don't worry, I'm always asking her all sorts of odd questions. But anyway, she said showers were required but she faked the shower (she just went in the shower room with a towel around her and came back out). I didn't ask why she didn't actually take a shower. But speaking for myself, I know you don't necessarily sweat that much taking gym in February, depending on what you happen to be doing.
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Peter K.
Peter K.

February 9th, 2012, 11:53 pm #9

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
Thanks, Noel, for the interesting link to the article by 'Jumper' on the master's swim website. He certainly does present an articulate and well-written piece which I'd say is the definitive history of men's nude swimming in the United States. The social history and medical history come together in a fascinating fashion: of course there was river water and lake water contamination which migh spread serious untreatable disease. Swim suits which had been in such water should never be allowed to incubate in heated indoor pools. Nude swimming was a sensible handling of that issue.

I think of how I have sat still and nude in the forest and, free of all the contaminating and fear-generating smells which ride in my clothing, small animals such as chipmunks and rabbits would come very close to me, much closer than they ever would if I were dressed.

The medical/sanitary issues caused by importing contaminated swimsuits are gone and technology has improved water purification and filtering to a high degree. That need for nude swimmers is gone. Now we have social and psychosocial issues to deal with as well as implementation of gender equality. Many people have yet to accept that we are all on a continuum from 100% same sex attracted to 100% opposite sex attracted. Yes, I'm saying we're all potentially bisexual. And those guys who consider themselves 'straight' may not yet have fully examined nor accepted that part of them which might not be straight. And until they do, being with other nude guys may fuel a fear, anxiety and uncertainty within them which they are unable to handle.

In my case I've found that the same-sex attracted part of me is much smaller than I might have thought it was back before I examined it and accepted it as part of my make-up. Now that I can relate well to all the different parts of how I'm put together I can do that with all my brothers as well, and am at peace. I know that all of you other guys have the same issues, we need not fear each other but can get along and build good relationships. And someday, someday, maybe we can start going nude swimming together again without it being such a big issue. I would really enjoy that -- bet you would, too!
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Peter K.
Peter K.

February 15th, 2012, 1:04 am #10

Here is a long post I made to the Yahoo group, Shirtless Life, in response to a member who suggested some photos of high school and YMCA nude swimmers were fake:

Below is an excerpt from a long post by "Jumper" on a thread on another forum
about the history of and rationale for nude swimming. My impression is that
it's very well-researched, factual, and trustworthy. "Jumper", in his early
60's, swam nude in institutional settings growing up. The excerpt challenges
the claim that photographs were never taken, and privacy was strictly guarded at
all times:

"Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers,
one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both
the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only
needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming
nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially
expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of.
(And, I recall hearing that as a child.)"

If you're interested, I highly recommended the full post. Go to "Jumper".

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=13275&page=2

Why is this relevant to the "shirtless issue". Most people today who didn't
practice nude swimming---frankly, I wish I had been "required" to---find the
practice and acceptance of it astounding. Many required to do it found it
liberating and pleasurable, others found it creepy, wrong, degrading and unjust.
Most people today probably side with the latter.

Do young people today see the open communal showers I took with the same
amazement that I see nude swimming? Do they think I was humiliated? (I
wasn't.) Do they see being required to be a "skin" in a ball P.E. ball game
similarly degrading? (It wasn't for me.)

If nude swimming is beyond the pale, why isn't shirtlessness? Indeed many today
apparently think both are unacceptable.

Why is institutional nudity or communal showers or shirtlessness okay or not
okay from one "polite society" to another? And how do you explain how nudity
could be so accepted in a society so much more conservative in many ways that
today's?

End of SL Post. Some further comments:

I can't remember who or where, but somebody said on a forum that from communal showering to nude swimming was a short step. It personally seems like a pretty big one to me. If I'd had to do it, would I have been nervous, even terrified? If so, for very long? Would I have adjusted quickly? Or not?

Before my first communal shower in P.E. at 13 I had no idea that it would be required. There were no "dark rumors" about it in grade school. It was never mentioned.

I have no memory at all of being nervous or traumatized about it, in fact, I can't even remember "my first time" at it, though I have scattered memories of it throughout the years. The whole process took about 5, maybe 10 minutes, absolute max. There was no hurry, but no lounging around either, by anybody that I saw. Of course there were no towels around wastes, to or from. You picked up the towel on the way out, I THINK.

We weren't all herded in en mass in a regimented way. We came and went, with, I don't know, 1, 3, 6, 12 in the open shower at any given time. No rough housing, horse play, no singing.

Yeah, I was a little nervous about erections, but I can't remember ever getting one. The only one I remember was "the big man on campus" voted "best looking". Gay? Bi? A fantasy about a girl? Who knows? Who cares?

Thing is, I've always been pretty modest. But communal showering was pretty uneventful and untraumatizing. But I read recently on the Net about a teenager on the swim team who'd heard he might have to do it, and it was a major crisis for him. So maybe this shows how relative these things can be.

Noel
https://sites.google.com/site/historica ... hotographs
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