Selfies in locker room break the law

Be cautious next time you take a selfie in locker rooms

Pamela Estrada

A woman walks from the showers to her locker holding her towel. As she glides across the room she looks around as if searching for something or someone. She opens her locker and I excuse myself from being in her way. She once again looks around as if searching for someone. Then she looks at me and says, “can I ask you something?” 

As she says this, I set my phone on the bench after pulling it out of my duffle bag. She says “okay, now that you have that in your hand (meaning my phone). Why is it that this area of the gym cannot go without it? I mean in many places it is banned from even being present.” This mystery gym goer could be you, wondering the same questions as you change in the locker room and out of the corner of your eye spot someone using their phone.

Attending a gym and not running into someone with a cell phone is hard. According to the Pew Research Center published as of 2019 about 96% of Americans own a cellphone. Which means that when attending any of the 39,570 gyms in the U.S., reported by International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association in their latest data report of 2018, you are likely to be in a space where phones are at hands reach.

Many may be wondering, what the big deal about phones in the locker room and let me tell you that it is a big deal. A slight slip of capturing someone in your private image undressed or indecent can lead to criminal invasion of privacy – the act is illegal.

One viral incident well known is the 2017 then Playboy playmate Dani Mathers taking a nude picture of a 70-year-old woman and posting it on social media. ABC News sat with Mathers then to review the consequences from her decisions to snap and share the nude photo. Loss of a career, loss of privacy, and public attacks. In her interview she states that the image was for personal use and not for it to go public.

I am sorry but why should one person lose their privacy for the satisfaction of someone else.

Then you have people who wait to be alone in the locker room. The setting changes where the person holding the camera phone looks around to ensure no one is watching, sets the pose and snaps the picture. There is no capture of anyone in the background.

For Noemi Gonsalez a makeup YouTube artist who began posting her weight-loss journey on Instagram the locker room selfies are a confidence booster. She likes the large wall size mirrors in the gym where after a workout she can document her process.

“I always make sure there is no one around me. One, so that I can respect their privacy and two because I might self-conscious.”

 It seems that documentation of one’s progress in the gym is crucial and it may be something only gym-goers may understand. The need to do it right after the workout rather than in a much more private setting like home. Yet it could even be argued that as students on campus at SF State it may be just the same because we share spaces with roommates.

When Kelly Lopez a first year at state majoring in Biology was asked why those pictures are best taken in the locker room rather than elsewhere she explained, “for those pictures, for me, I kind of show more of my body so I’d rather have that in the locker room than outside.”

She says she ensures people are not in the frame or goes where there are no people in order to snap her image.

Now as much as we say yes to picture taking for self-use there is still that stand that they should not be used. That we need to be conscious of those outside of ourselves and what we need. Yet it still stands that if we are cautious, we should be able to take the images for our personal use. Just keep in mind if you release something that violates someone else’s privacy you are breaking the law and charges can be filed – consequences.

During his time in various gym settings Arion Smith Bay Area trainer says technology will change and regardless of age will people utilize it as they see fit for them regardless of rules and regulations.

“People will use technology to the way they see fit. If they want to use it then they will – there is no other doubt about it,” said Smith.