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One of my oldest girl friends and I went to a Korean spa on Sunday. If you’re unfamiliar with the Korean + Spa duo in a sentence, here’s summary: the spas are open 24 hours and you pay a flat fee to experience their varying saunas, pools, bathhouses and maybe pay extra for massages if the week has been rough.
As we’re grabbing our uniforms and towels, I say to my girlfriend, “I don’t get how women come in here with their kids and get naked in front of them.” If I ever had to see my mom naked, well I guess that would be how I die. Or how do best friends just talk to each other in the face and the exposed crotches in their peripherals? For guys, this is no big deal. For women, I can’t think of anything more intense. Actually no, please don't try to be there when there's a baby coming out of me.
At these places, you wear a unisex uniform around the main spa areas but there are separate bathhouses for men and women where you are not permitted to wear any clothing. A quick glance into the bath house and my friend decided that it was not on our agenda today.
The the few hours that passed went something like this:
“You don’t have to go in there unless you want to.”
“We can take turns and go in there separately.”
“How about we just hold towels on our body and not look at each other?”
After we tried every sauna and lounged by the pool, I knew it was time to test our friendship. We went in.
“That lady’s breasts are literally (a word I use accurately) the size of watermelons”
“Plus has nipples the size of Pizza Hut personal pizzas.”
“Never mind I’m just going to walk around naked, it can’t get worse.”
Imagine the worst case scenario... is your body worst-case scenario? Doubt it. Unless you have bleeding lesions all over you, you’re good. If you’re fat, no one cares. Everyone is fat. In fact, no one cares about your body or wants to look at it unless you’re trying to hide it. Then everyone glares at your for being a prude. I just had to get over myself.
There are about seven pool options inside the women’s bathhouse, each at varying temperatures and functions for water therapy. There’s also fiery steam room that will burn your eyeballs out of your face socket if you’re into that. To be annoying, I got into pool right next to my friend. Our heads and shoulders are visible as we floated, letting the waves hide our bodies.
My friend: “What’s that button behind you?”
Without giving common sense a chance, I turned around and pressed the button. Water jets attacked me from three angles, pushing my body half way across the pool, reflecting powerful sprays of water off my body into all directions. Checked off bucket list: run around naked wanting to cry and laugh at the same time.
Do I plan on bringing my future kids here so that they can witness their mother’s glory? Absolutely not. Well, maybe. It seems like this place has that liberating effect on people.
My friend never left the corner of her pool and periodically yelled “DON’T LOOK AT ME!” like a fifteen year old with her first pimple. Her facial expressions went back and forth from debilitating terror to utter enchantment. Oh my god so many lady parts. Oh this rainfall is cool. Is that a rainbow spider tatted on her crotch? This jet feels really good on my back.
Aw, she reminds me of the first time I came to one of these things. Yep, three time veteran here, squirming at every Asian woman who refuses to tame their womanhood. What is that? How can a culture be so advanced in science and iPhone manufacturing yet still be convinced that keeping hair down there is a sign of fertility? All I hear are excuses, Asian women. Don’t be lazy.
You know how sometimes your brain chooses to remember the weirdest, non-highlight point of an event? The entirety of your first time at a Korean spa is like that unnecessary moment you can’t shake off. It doesn’t have to be this way but I kind of like it.
All women – absolutely all women – struggle with something about their body at some point. It seems like there’s a lot of body image propaganda out now but obviously we just need more Korean spa commercials.