Whose Eyes?: Women’s Experiences of Changing in a Public Change Room

Fitness and recreation centres populate today’s modern urban communities and cater to a wide range of people seeking health, fitness and social connection through physical activity. While women’s experiences in these spaces have received some scholarly attention from feminist scholars and scholars of the body, little research has explored women’s lived experiences of the change room. In this paper, I argue that everyday spaces such as change rooms and locker rooms are important spaces in which social understandings of the female body manifest. In such spaces, the materiality of the body and the social meanings ascribed to the female body are illuminated and negotiated by those who inhabit and move through them. Using Sartre and Merleau-Ponty as theoretical guides, I discuss how it is for women to see and be seen in a public change room, and how these spaces illuminate the complex relationship women have with their bodies in contemporary society.

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