Fat And Wrinkles: The Locker Room Epiphany

by Jill Pond
Originally Published: 
An elderly woman swimming in water above her neck and looking up toward the sky
AnnaRise / iStock

I’m not sure I know one woman who doesn’t have issues with her appearance—issues that span from toes to tits and beyond. Boobs are too small, too big, too pointy, too saggy. Butts are too fat, too flat, too bony, too dimply. Fat-rolls lop over the waist of our pants and skin sags toward the ground, making us feel insignificant.

I’ve been at war with my body for as long as I can remember, but oddly enough, I’ve found a small slice of peace in a very unlikely place: the rec center locker room. I started swimming a few months back, and when I got to the locker room, I’d change as quickly as possible. I did not want anyone seeing my nakedness, and I was grossed out by the old ladies who sauntered around, giant grandma tits flapping to and fro. And how dare they slap their ancient vaginas right down on the locker room bench and chat with their neighbor like it was no big thing. Ewwwww.

In my weekly visits to the locker room, I’ve begun to notice a curious phenomenon: These flabby old gals are happy as hell. They have no shame. After months of seeing the crowd of naked grannies, I’ve begun to loosen up. My sagging gut, my dimpled ass, and my less-than-stellar breasts now see the light of day. If those women can accept their bodies, why not me?

This posse of seniors is wise and weathered, and I’ve learned a thing or two about body acceptance from observing them.

The size of your body is not directly proportional to your worth.

As far as I can tell, there is no hierarchy amongst these women. Fat, skinny or somewhere in between, they chat and laugh, commiserating about the daily happenings of life. They don’t give a shit about pubic hair, nipples, asses or guts; they simply appreciate the company of friends, and it’s an equal opportunity environment.

Life is about connection.

I’ve wasted years being a jealous, insecure asshole. I’m envious when in the company of beautiful women; I feel like a nothing, ashamed of my aging body and fluctuating weight. The better they look, the worse I feel, alone in my vanity. Missing the connection of true friendship and being prisoner to my own warped ideas about self-worth and happiness leaves me lonely. The locker room grandmas don’t care; their eyes don’t dart from body to body, assessing their place in the pack. The connections they have are a beautiful thing and make me want to be better.

Health is the most important thing.

I wonder how many women have sacrificed heath for beauty—eating disorders hurting the souls of the anguished, forcing us to push our bodies beyond their capacity, plastic surgery now as commonplace as highlighting hair. What about mental and physical health? The grannies talk about ailing hearts, back surgeries and bum knees. They help me see food and exercise as medicine, and I feel more at one with the dusty old gals in the locker room. I’m just trying to keep myself alive, and I want untethered happiness.

You can be happy and imperfect at the same time.

I still fall prey to the old idea of perfect equals happy. This is the biggest crock of shit, and a crime against humanity. The rampant plague of media bombardment tells us we need to be eternally young, unnaturally skinny. Well fuck them. Fuck them. I want to be wrinkled and happy, aging in peace, giving zero fucks about my sagging body. Stop highjacking our lives, you fucking TV commercials, tabloid magazines, and eternally young Hollywood stars. Where has reality gone? The goddam granny locker room is where it’s at, and you can find me shaving my moustache in the public shower with my stretch marks glistening in the fluorescent light. Fuck yes.

Judgement leaves you lonely.

I’ve felt the judgment as I walk into a room; perhaps I’ve gained weight or maybe I’ve lost some. I judge others, too. I can’t help it; it’s ingrained deep into my brain. I’ve bought into the lie they’re selling to all of us, and I’m contaminated on a cellular level. The power of my brain is no match for the poison inside me—judging, feeling judged, and measuring worth like I’m baking a cake. My locker room companions have not been infected. They are not lonely like I am.

It’s clear as a bright blue sky that something is wrong. Our culture’s devotion to vanity is normal to most, but I’ve seen through the veil. Where does that leave me? A wilted prune in a sea of shiny red plums or a happy woman aging with grace? I hope the latter for the sake of my sanity and hope against hope that others will enter the matrix where a woman’s worth is measured not by the shell of her soul, but the goodness that lies within.

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