Lani Young, samoa blog, sleepless in samoa, writing in Samoa

Get Naked… Or not.

There’s one thing I really admire about people who are not brown. (ie. white people. ie. People who didnt grow up in the same country I did.) Their ability to wear swimsuits. Regardless of their age, size, shape or bountifulness.

MOST people who grew up in the same country I did, wouldnt be caught dead in a swimsuit. When they go to the beach or the pool, they will wear any combination of any (or all) of the following:knee length shorts, a voluminous t-shirt, a tanktop, a lavalava, a mu’umu’u floorlength dress, and sometimes underneath all of it they will ALSO be wearing..( wait for it) …a swimsuit. Now of course there are those brown people – usually in the younger generation, who will wear skimpy swimming outfits. But NEVER when their elders are about. And only if they are skinny and fabuloso. And when they do, the rest of those on the beach ( who are all struggling to stay afloat as their denim shorts and big t-shirts drag them down into the ocean depths) – will then sit there and loudly talk about what skanky ho’s those skinny swimsuit girls are. Because, its just not ‘Samoan’ to display one’s body for all and sundry to gape at. ( Never mind that we ran around topless before the missionaries came along and ruined it for us.) Needless to say, I have never gone swimming wearing ONLY a swimsuit. Even before the fabulous Five came along and destroyed my Sports Illustrated shape. ( everybody laugh together and say, yeah right!)

But now I live in NZ. And I go to the swimming pool to do my water jogging ( a fantastic way to exercise I must add – no sweating, no dogs trying to bite you, no killers hiding in the bushes waiting to kill you, and complete weightlessness!) And at the pools I am surrounded by…really old women, really young women, really large women, really skinny women, really bountiful women and really bountiless women. And all of them are quite happily wearing nothing but swimsuits! Bikinis! Thongs! Maillots! And quite uncaring of all the fludgy bits that blob out where bits shouldnt. Its wonderful. And I am awed by their fiery confidence and complete disregard for whatever anyone else may be thinking

.Nobody sits in a cluster and calls out, ‘Eh suga! makua lapoa kele lou vae!…Eh vaai le la loomakua ma ana ofu valea!…Auoi! kai makaga le la fafine!’ Nope. Nobody tells you you’re too fat, too old, too ugly, too wrinkly, too flat chested to wear anything but a sack. Nope. Nobody cares. Everybody just wears their thing and gets on with doing their thing. Swimming. Diving. Walking. Jogging. Wow. I take my knee length shorts and voluminous shirt off and salute you all! (theoretically and figuratively speaking of course…) All of us brown people who still believe in wearing double layers in the pool or at the beach – could sure learn a few things from these women.

However. In my humble opinion…there is such a thing as taking a good thing…waaaay too far. In the changing rooms, it is rather horrifying. Because lots of these same women, are so cool about their bodies…that they take all their clothes off and shower/dry off/get changed and dont give a hoot who’s around. And for a girl who grew up in the country where you still need to put a lavalava on OVER pants during ceremonial ocasions…it is truly disturbing to walk into the changing room and be confronted by all these naked people. Ugh. And not only that, they are having chats and casual conversations with each other. And not even making any effort to cover up. Or hide behind a flowery lavalava. Or a curtain. And I cringe and shudder and make a hasty dash for it. And scream silently – for goodness sake, put some clothes on!  Yes you can say Im riddled with ‘hangups’ and accuse me of being ‘prudish’ or crippled by weak body image issues or whatever. But its probably more of a cultural thing because honestly, I have yet to see a brown woman get butt naked in the ladies public changing room.

But I could be wrong. Because after all, Im running so fast to get the heck outta there and trying frantically to get my eyes to look everywhere EXCEPT at all the naked people. So its totally possible that I could have missed the brown woman strutting her stuff at the opposite end of the room. (thank goodness) Now I have no problems with people wearing revealing clothing. Heck, the days when I would wriggle into a tiny mini-skirt and dance on tables are not THAT long ago. (cue another group, ‘Yeah right!’) If people wanna go skimpy, then hey, go for it! But in my perfect world, the swimming pool changing rooms would have a sign on the door. In neon lights. Pleeeease dont get naked unless everybody in the room wants you to!

So yes I am very admiring of women who love their bodies enough to wear swimsuits. And I might even take my big t-shirt off next time I go to the pool. Ta-Da!

But until Im living in my ‘perfect world’ – I’ll keep doing my mad dash through the change rooms, averting my eyes and pretending that everyone has their clothes on.

P.S – And impt end note. Speedos. Tiny little swim underwear on men? Disgusting. Please dont EVER make the mistake of thinking they’re a good idea. Even if you’re built like Sonny Bill Williams? Still, DONT DO IT. Speedos are bad on any man. Every man. Are a crime against humanity and should be feared as such.

12 thoughts on “Get Naked… Or not.”

  1. lol!! like really..LOL!!!!..couldnt stop laughing on this one though I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU! and you know where else this will happen to you(more places to get traumatised) is at the gyms..yup, ladies just strip em off after a long workout and have chats and all the above, and youre just trying to rush outa there acting as if your didnt NOTICE someones pink and trimmed errrrhhmm,….you know what. ARRRRHHHHHHHH…..did I mention the word traumatised???welcome to NZ Lani!!p.s i can do a swim suit with board shorts over…but THATS IT..ahahaha…no you aint gonna see my flabby behind!! tee hee…nope never!

  2. A whole bunch of hilarity! Love this one because palagi tend to stare more at the brown people who jump in with ALL of their clothes on. And yes, the locker room bit is traumatizing. Speedo for men? Invented by a guy who wanted to wear a bikini. Not cool. Thanks Lani! This was great reading.

  3. I know – we brown fully clothed swimmers are defn the weird ones standing out at the local pools here! Glad you agree with me on the Speedo issue ( shudder ugh)Thanks Seti!

  4. and i thought i was the only one who thought about this kind of stuff.. love the blog post!. so funny!. couldn't stop laughing.

  5. HAHAHA! DOUBLE DITTO ON THE SPEEDOS! yuck! Speedos on huge body building men…double yuck. lol But I totally agree with the mad dash in the locker room. I have so done it, and especially when I'm just getting my daughter out of the shower from her swim classes…Oh my poor daughters eyes! Geez ladies cover up the vajayjays, there are children in here! lol And I have never in my life worn ONLY a bikini to swim. I've had the top on with some board shorts, but never just a two piece. No way, If I wanted people to see me in my underwear, I'd wear it, but this booty is reserved for the hubby ONLY! LOL!!

  6. this is hilarious, and so true. Even though I left Samoa at age 9, I still to this day all the way in the US have the same reserves as I did back then, being very body conscious in public. I am not shamed to pull out my lovely flowery lava lava and strut around the gym locker room nicely wrapped from boobs to mid thigh lol. I even get compliments from the palagi women about the many beautiful sarongs they've noticed me in. As far as their nakedness goes, I've gotten used to it by now… most times that is 😛

  7. couldn’t help but laugh along too. The locker room in a gym is definitely an eye opener for a brown skinned girl after a water aerobics class. not the business. hahahaha! loved your approach to it.

  8. Sooo many things!

    1. As a super pale person (my friends accused me of “Twilighting” in Samoa) I am SO self-conscious when wearing a bikini. I feel like the glare off my skin could blind people.

    2. My old man is a nudist and I spent my childhood at nudist beaches. Old people seem to like nudist beaches more than anyone else. Brrr. But it never seemed weird at the time and I particularly LOVED one of the beaches he took us to (it had a lagoon I used to chase fish in) so I was preoccupied anyway.

    3. My old man was particularly thrilled to buy 2 g-string “swimsuits” in Bali when I was young. So when forced to cover up you’d see him jogging down the beach, Baywatch style, bumcheeks swaying side to side in freedom.

    4. He’s also a cyclist who is fond of “banana” shorts, so even when fully covered it’s TMI.

    5. On my last trip to Japan I had a communal bath with my mum and some Japanese ladies. You MUST be naked in those baths. My mother has a penchant for pointing out weird things with my body when I’m fully clothed so you can imagine the field day she had when I was naked. My grooming habits were commented on! Thankfully I didn’t have the piercing then. Also, being ghostly white and palagi in Japan made me stick out like a sore thumb so I had quite a curious audience.

    6. I assumed big bodies were considered beautiful in Samoa. After my most recent trip I was watching Aussie tv and found myself disgusted by how stick-thin our female celebrities are. It really hurt my eyes after 2 weeks of womanly bodies in Samoa.

  9. Hahahaha!!! I nearly died reading this. I am one of those brown people who wear bikinis (around my family no less) but it’s mainly because my family is ridiculously crazy (line NO hangups on nudity or anything. I cant tell you how myany times my poor eyes have been scarred by seeing a grown’s up’s nakedness…while they flaunt it as if it’s no big deal…like they arent even naked…like how dare you even act like something is amiss….men included), that and I figure I better flaunt the “sports illustrated body” (i wish) while I can. I’ve grown accostomed to nakedness (unfortunately) and as a child I was one of those in the ladies room, naked (though I’d never do it now). Luckily my family has somewhat grown to learn that everyone doesnt appreciate their bareness, but that doesnt erase the good ole days (yuck). I do somewhat appreciate it though because it taught me to never be afraid or shy about my body, because everyone has imperfections.

  10. My wife, who like me is definitely a Caucasian, used to attend the same kind of water aerobics classes here in the States. The women there were just as casual about body shape, in the pool and in the dressing room (so she tells me), and my poor wifey was just as appalled at all the casual nudity amongst the not-so-supermodelish in the dressing room. I finally had to ask her to quit describing it to me – I didn’t want to hear it anymore than I wanted to see old guys in Speedo. So maybe it’s not exclusively a Samoan thing. 😉

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