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Men also feel that they are physically inadequate when they compare their bodies to media-glamorized images of the male body.
Even when I was a youth there were muscle magazines encouraging boys to bulk up so they wouldn’t be the skinny kid having sand kicked in his face on the beach—in front of his girl friend, who then walks off with the muscle guy!
I don’t know what the rationale was for such a practice.”I didn’t press the issue, although I thought as a retired teacher he probably should have found out what the rationale was for the practice of nude swimming if he was going to comment on it.
But here’s the answer…or at least an answer.[Note: I have updated this article several times on the basis of comments that helpfully offered further details on the practice of naked swimming, especially in the public schools.]People who didn’t experience boys swimming naked in the YMCA and in many physical education programs in the public schools in the US find it hard to believe that this was done. Boys swam naked in the YMCAs and in school physical education classes from the time pools were first installed in these institutions in the late 19th century until the 1970s.
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.
Let’s not think that body shame is only a women’s issue.
Some even deny it happened because it doesn’t fit our current cultural mores.
Men don’t talk about it even if they were comfortable with the practice because the reactions are usually negative.
I set this in the broader context of naked swimming in America. We tend to reject the attitudes and views of previous generations because they contradict our own (more enlightened?
) attitudes and views, as if our attitudes and views can’t withstand the challenge of different standards.