Try to find what seems “off” about this picture and the two below.
Ah, you’ve got it. The men are naked, and the women are in swimsuits.
I don’t know where they were taken or when or even if they’re legitimate, although they look legitimate. I’m inclined to think they might be from Germany or an Eastern European or Scandinavian country and were probably taken in the forties or fifties. I think of Germany because I saw a beach on the Greek Island Naxos chock-a-block with naked German families on holiday. Picture it, as Sophia Portrillo on the Golden Girls would say, two pale, sun-frightened Americans, one in lounging pants, long-sleeved pullover, and hat, the only people with a stitch of clothes on, surrounded by hundreds of au naturel frolickers. I remember that one strapping young man and woman drew a broad-jump line in the sand and took turns running toward it as fast as they could, everything flopping, before they took flight. A person didn’t want to stare, but a person probably did. So I say to myself, if your family vacations naked on the beach together, maybe back home it doesn’t feel strange to see your brother or son competing naked on a swim team. But why did the women cover up at home?
Am I reading too much into these pictures or do they suggest a society that found it unthinkable for women to think of men as sex objects, possibly unthinkable for “decent” women to have sexual feelings at all?
At least one of the pictures below, of a diver or divers, are clearly in the U.S. Doing a little internet research, I found these explanations on a Yahoo Answers site, https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20131003021653AAqBAGa:
“Boys swam naked because it was considered normal and healthy (in a single-gender environment) and the fear or embarrassment of being naked around one’s own gender was just unthinkable. It was quicker, easier, and already common (this was done at YMCAs as well as local swimming holes). The rules were made by the previous generations that had gone through the military, or had grown up where privacy was much more of a luxury than it is today. “Watching” wasn’t a part of this at all; it’s just the way men behaved.
We boys swam naked all through junior (middle) and senior high, as well as at the Y. I was on the swim team for years, and we always practiced naked. We “saved” our suits for the meets, when there might be moms and sisters watching, but the rest of the time, nudity was the norm, especially at the Y where it wasn’t just restricted to the pool.”
More from Yahoo Answers, re why boys swam naked at the YMCA:
“First, some of them couldn’t afford polyester swimwear and just wearing cotton shorts wreaked havoc on the filter systems of the time. Second, it promoted a classless environment. Naked, you can’t tell a banker from a laborer. And last, guys were more used to being naked back then communally than they are now. Most of them served in the military where privacy wasn’t a priority, and people in general weren’t as squeamish about being human as they are now.”
“Sometime in the 1960’s corresponding with the expansion of female rights, the YMCA was forced to accept female employees, lifeguards and instructors.
For whatever reason, it was immediately decided that all female’s had to wear suits, but the same was not immediately true for the boys.
There was quite a bit of grey area from state to state, and it was quite common for boys to swim naked under the watch of a female lifeguard, or for a group of boys to have a female teacher.”
But none of this exactly explains the pictures above, all seven from the site http://notashamedtobemen.tumblr.com/, which focusses on naked men, most “at rest.” No source is given for the diver photos, and the co-ed swim team photos are credited to an adult site, http://clothedmalenudefemale.tumblr.com/, but I couldn’t find the photos on it for further sourcing, though I don’t doubt that they are or were there.
Male nudity in public has a downside: a guy is mentally freer if his favorite part isn’t announcing what he’s thinking.
But I don’t need to tell you, do I, that as a spectator I think all sports should be played naked?
“But I don’t need to tell you, do I, that as a spectator I think all sports should be played naked?”
If it wasn’t for the weather, we should all LIVE naked, clothes are silly and uncomfortable and they are absolutely no safeguard to sexual harassment and abuse. Our habit to clothe ourselves is actually the cause, it creating secretiveness in regard to sex and nudity, resulting in unnatural shame, frustration, exhibitionism, peeping toms, upskirt photo’s, porn, etc. We would have a lot less of these if nudity wasn’t such a taboo. But that’s my view.
I too did a blog post on this YMCA phenomenon once. But recently someone told me that some of of the photographs I used are faked. In particular where you see nude boys posing with girls in swimsuits. I studied these photographs extensively, and there are indeed some whom I now doubt. Your first and third picture for instance. However no 2, though it is a bit fuzzy, looks so incredibly authentic!
But the legend that boys and men swam naked because the YMCA didn’t want the cotton or wool swimwear fabric to clog up the filters is nonsense, if you ask me. This rule obviously didn’t apply to the bathing suits of the girls…
My post is titled ‘Staring at your naked son’ (earns me truckloads of spam, that title!) under the category NudeHistory. You’ll at least find a lot of YMCA photos there.
Look in particular at the photo of the naked water polo team and their trainer. Sitting in the background on the tribune, you see what are obviously someone’s family members. Among them, LOL, Aunt Prudence… but there’s something not quite right with the nether regions of the polo players. Of the men in the front line the pubic hair model looks duplicated.
Thanks for the additional information.
One of the pictures you have is of the Natatorium at my high school in Minnesota. It’s the one with the diver in a dive with his backside to the camera. It’s difficult for people, especially younger people, to believe that we swam and dove naked during competitions with the general public watching. The opposing team members also swam naked. Nobody seemed to care back then. This was in the 1960s. My older brother also attended the same school as did my dad in the late 1930s and early 1940s. They were also swimmers and also swam naked.
I don’t know who the person diving in the picture is but I may have known him.
Thanks so much for enlightening us. How fascinating.
Upon receiving your email I looked at the picture of the Natatorium with the diver again and realized there is what appears to be a man and a woman sitting together on a bench watching the diver. They are located near the lower right corner of the picture. There also appears to be another naked man standing to the side and in front of them.
I learned to swim at the YMCA in Ohio in 1953 at the age of 10. Everyone was naked, since suits were not allowed, and sanitary regulations were quite strict. You did not even enter the pool without first taking a nude shower. The old Ys were a great place to exercise in a clean, all-male environment. Indeed they were a lot cleaner and better-managed than most modern health clubs.
In 1965 in Lockport NY, all the gym swim classes were in the nude in the local High School. They thought nothing of it. For some boys it was sexual but for most it was par for the course
My dad was in high school in the late 40s. His school was built in the 20s and the basement gym had a retractable floor that slid into the outside wall revealing the swimming pool. The gym had fixed bleachers on one side and the bleachers on the other side retracted into the same wall the floor retracted under leaving a narrow deck between the pool and the wall. Swimming was required participation. On days they had swimming, the girls had gym class outdoors and the boys swam naked. When the girls had swimming they wore suits and, the boys had gym outdoors. Swim team practice was both boys and girls together (one set of coaches) with the boys naked and the girls in school furnished suits. The newer schools did not have pools and and their swim teams used the local community pools. The swimmeets were rotated between the schools with pools, and the boys competed naked even if they practiced in suits at their outdoor community pools. The swim meets were also coed and the competing girls were in the gym at the same time as the naked boys. Dad said the parent’s and public usually weren’t at the meets, but regardless, the nude boys was “just the way it was and not an issue.” Sometime around the late 60s, the local schools all did away with swim teams as the pools were too expensive to maintain for so few students and the pools were filled in. There were still local swim teams, but they were private clubs you had to pay to join. Now I hear from nieces and nephews that schools can’t even require showers after gym, and kids change in the restroom stalls. In college in the early 80s the men’s dorms had open showers and the toilets only had chest high partitions with no doors. I had a roommate once from up north who was absolutely shocked at the “primitive” conditions even though the dorm was built in the late 60s. He only showered in the middle of the day when he could usually shower alone. Some of the guys walked around the dorm naked, even to visit friends on other floors since women weren’t allowed in the dorm except between noon and 10 pm. A feminine shriek usually announced a woman on the floor.
I think it’s terrible the way the cost of maintenance in public schools keeps going up, but the wages and standard of living of parents and teachers don’t. I was a senior in high school in the late 80’s, and even though male modesty was allowed in some urban communities where the feminist movement made any school administrator’s refusal too make “open” shower and “weight in” facilities, into “closed too the general public” facilities, with an actual boys locker room sign on the front not necessarily telling girls they weren’t allowed but by designating it for boys kind of giving them a hint. You got to understand that the school itself was built a couple years after the civil war ended and was all open past your land in the 1860s and start contrast to the Intercity slum of the 1980s. The ideology is in social conventions of the faculty and administrators were equally as outmoded and outdated and didn’t think anything out of place about girls coming in right after last session for health class and cheerleading practice since the girls locker room did not have the scale or the space that the boys locker room did seeing that the girls locked room was simply part of the old water boiler room that had been wrestled fitted as the last minute necessity during the opposite but equal rage of the feminist movement the ’70s. My strange relationship with my parents when I was a teenager finally living on my own when I was 16 working my way through high School the way a lot of people work their way through college. The inner city flat house I was living in at the time was built about the same time the school was and was actually a large boarding house in the late 1800s and bordered a very impressive population of cockroaches both the human kind and stuff like it kind during the time I was living there and with funds being limited to the way they were and hot water and they clean areas get washed up and being almost non-existent there I took advantage of the locker room facilities to clean up after physical education class, (gym) practice, which was right before track and field practice. I had no shame concerning body image but I was extremely ashamed of stinking in class or around my neighbors so when the female gym teacher started making a practice of visiting with me while I was showering while she was waiting for her girls to come in for their after school extra credit, thinking that she could use me to embarrass her girls into shaming their their boyfriends into better hiding practices like taking a shower once in awhile and to indicate to those girls that they should supervise their boyfriends you’re showing activities by giving me a thorough hygiene inspection after you shower she wanted the girls what their boys should look like between the cheeks as she spread mine open and under the balls that she listened mine up for them to see how their guys should look instead of how they were looking because of the way they smelled in class passing by the girls locker room. There are a couple busy bodies who call it scandalous making me out to be some kind of a peeping Tom even though I was one of them being looked at but since most of the parents thought that hygiene was important modesty not so much and since their own Brothers went through the same process before getting into pool water when they were in the same school they approved and encouraged my continued participation with all the free shampoo soap and toiletry items I could want from the discount dollar retailer, which helped out a lot with my bottom line, which made it worth having my bottom spread open for their reviewing and instruction to be stink free and rest three free.guys started showering more often girls started wearing clean tampons everyday and it was win-win for everyone for the most part.
I learned to swim in 1953, in San Pedro, California. Nudity was required. No clothing was allowed in the gang showers, which were required before the swim classes. The coaches wore swimsuits about the length of running shorts today, and maybe a shirt, I can’t remember. There were always kids’ mothers in the bleachers. Sometimes a kid would get an erection. It was no big deal. Usually we were in chest-high water, anyway, and not much could be seen. I guess I can trace my lifelong devotion to naturism back to that time of my life!
I never swam naked in school, but many boys (and sometimes their fathers) swan naked in private backyard swimming pools with sisters and mothers in bathing suits. When I was 13 or 14 (early ’60s) I swam at a friend’s backyard pool. My friend and I and his dad swam naked but his mom wore a swimsuit. They all acted like it was perfectly normal. Later his sister came home and joined us, wearing a swimsuit. Like her mom, she acted as though male nudity in the swimming pool was no big deal. Frankly, I wish all women were as cool about nudity as they were!