To grow up in a Norwegian small town in the 1970’s was no journey in sexual liberation: it was earlier full of contrasts. The culture was changing, with pressure from Norwegian equality politics and with resistance from the town’s origins in religious puritanism. Everyone knew, for example, who the few women were who sunbathed topless. And maybe even when and where they did it. And the glances they received were not appealing for girls going through puberty. At the same time, it was notable they dared to get it done.

That first memory is followed by another: from the line in the swimming hall’s women’s shower on Saturdays. Thick, damp atmosphere and filled with chewing the fat girls and women from three- to 80-years-old. Nude. And not a single Brazilian wax in sight. How we giggled at all of the odd female bodies!
We understood what we had to do, both in the swimming hall and after gym class. We had to wash. With soap and without clothing. This knowledge could of course be painful since we grew at different rates and were either too tall, too fat or too level, and we had our periods at different times. But from the first day of physical education class the gym teacher was there, making certain that everyone did what they were supposed to do and that we did not dilly-dally. It was an instruction in the nature of the body. We could see with our own eyes that there was a large variation in what was regular.
Practical explanations
To live in Grunerlokka(an area of the capital Oslo roughly equal to Brooklyn), one gains a whole lot of experience with cultural diversity and exciting discussions both in school and at extracurricular sports about how things should be. At varying points we parents have talked about why our kids infrequently or never shower after gym class or sports practices. When we request the schools and sports clubs, we get various practical explanations concerning tight schedules, poor-quality locker rooms, and that it is not a pedagogical condition to make sure kids shower. But I wonder. At schools where teachers have pressed for showering, we hear about boys and girls who shower with their knickers on.
The French philosopher Mearleau Ponty states in The Body’s Phenomenology that the body is more than its physical characteristics it is through the body and its connections that we master the world around us. It’s therefore important how we feel about our bodies. During our whole youth the body changes, and it is little pleasure. The body’s changes make us feel diffident and out-of-sync with ourselves.
At exactly the same time, these changes are something we all yes, all must go through in order to become adults. Even though strict religious environments always highlight covering the body and commanding born desires. Perhaps there’s a connection between how we participate and live through these physical and mental changes and how we experience life. There can be less risk for body shame and abuse and more happiness with a body someone enjoys and is protected in.

More nudity and more puritanism
The ideals of how the body should be do change with time’s conditions and chances. Now we have distinct conditions for sexuality in the public space than in the 1970’s. There’s more nudity and sexual innuendo, and sexual techniques are only a keystroke away. But at the same time, parts of our physical practices have become more puritanical. Young girls have seen Trekant (Triangle, a Norwegian prime-time television show that explores sexuality), and while they know everything about anal sex, they’ve never seen their classmates nude.
Where I go to work out these days, the air smells good and there are lockable lockers at the right height. There are various kinds bathing rooms and the water in the showers is constantly warm. And there are many dressed girls who are in their prime. The first time I saw a young woman shower with her panties on, I thought: Poor girl, she must definitely have issues since she’s this type of great body. I do not believe like this anymore. Changing of clothes happens like it does at the playa and the towel around the body isn’t removed before the protective walls of the shower stall take over.
Norwegian culture includes many little everyday practices. don’t mean that an entire culture is changing. In conversations about clothed showering, it’s often pointed out that it is occurring because of the modesty required by Muslims. But is not too easy. Our media is infused with American culture that accentuates puritan and pious values, which are represented in television series and movies.
Girls influenced the most