Our society today tends to have crazy attitudes toward the body.The body is glamorized in the media (using impossible models for the rest of us) and this in turn leads to issues of body shame (sometimes producing eating disorders).Many men over 50 testify that they swam naked in high school and college. But it was the practice and there are some pictures to prove it.
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.These boys are younger than 9th grade, but the diving board looks similar to the one I remember in our high school pool. So a physical activity that I was actually good at has been removed.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.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.