What is it about American society where as a grown woman I’m still not 100% comfortable in the buff at a spa? There is such a stigma on the nake female form here in the states that even a nursing mother is deemed unacceptable by some.
I’m 34 years old and I’m definitely not in my peak form as far as my body goes, but today I went balls to the wall so to speak and got naked at a Korean spa and I feel like a breath of flesh air. Here’s the story.
I woke up today knowing that I wanted to go to this spa. I had gone several years and several pounds ago with a friend who was in Los Angeles visiting. I knew fully of the amount of nudity that was about to go down and I came prepared with my favorite tummy tucking one piece. I had an oil massage appointment set for later in the afternoon so I had time to grab some food first, and wow.
In Korea town you expect a certain level of authenticity and this did not disappoint. Wi Spa also offers traditional Korean style seating for dining. This was an excellent way to start my day and the portion sizes were so generous that I couldn’t even finish the plate.
After my delicious meal I decided it was time to go wash up and enjoy the hot tubs while I waited for my massage appointment. When I walked back down to the women’s level I saw women of all ages, and while the majority were Korean, there was a wide variety of ethnicities here. Women of all ages, I saw Mother’s with their daughters. Women of all shapes and sizes. Women with zero judgment. It seemed so casual to just walk around nude and everyone was. Breasts of all sizes and colors free as can be and I decided, fuck that bathing suit, I’m going to let it all hang out.
Turns out even if I had wanted to cover up, wearing a bathing suit isn’t allowed in the pools but I didn’t find that out til way after the fact. I’m proud of myself for not giving a fuck.
Everyday I criticize my aging body. I have many imperfections and things I for sure need to work on. Today when I saw those women just owning who they were and relaxing and letting their skin breath it really was inspiring and the confidence was infectious.
Now I’m not going to run and out and join a nudist colony anytime soon but I can certainly see why people do. Again, our American perception of nudity is so skewed. This is a normal part of Korean culture.
Jjimjilbangs have gender specific areas and this is where nudity is mostly a must. They also have a co-ed floor and the spa I visited gives you a tshirt, shorts, and a very thin cloth slippers to use while you are in the co-ed areas.
This spa, like traditional Jjimjilbangs, offers quite a few amenities, including several different saunas at different temperatures. Inside these saunas you will find different themes and elements, all of which are suppose to aid you on your quest to good health and relaxation. The saunas that my spa offered were salt, clay, jade, wood, and a cold room that put me in the mind of a walk in cooler in a restaurant.
Jjimjilbangs also offer a heated floors and floor mats so that you can lie down and nap both in the co-ed area and in the gender specific areas.
The only thing I didn’t love about the experience were all the tvs and cell phones. Other than the photo of the food I took, I really came to just unplug and I tucked my cell phone away in my locker after lunch. There were so many computers available for use, and so many tvs playing all Korean television, and people were taking their cell phones into the saunas to cruise the internet. At one point I went in to the salt sauna and the young Korean girl next to me was lying flat on her back, balancing a bottle of corn silk tea on her forehead, with her arms extended up to hold her phone over her face as she played candy crush. At the same time the woman across from her was taking a phone call. That ruined the vibe of that room and I moved on to the next. They should probably not allow cell phones inside the saunas, but that’s hard to say when some of the saunas had giant flat screen tvs in there at a very low volume.
The thing that I most loved about my experience was my amazing oil massage. This massage cost $40 which is insane because it’s worth way more. All of the ladies who do the massages are dressed in a black bra and panties or maybe it’s a bathing suit type of thing. At first I thought that was strange but they are splashing so much water and use just about their entire bodies to massage you so it makes sense.
During my oil massage which lasted 45 minutes, she massaged front and back head to toe, I was able to really zen out and relax. I had spent most of my day naked and this was no different. Earlier in the day I watched as a masseuse ground up a cucumber and I found out that they use this cucumber paste that they make to coat your face for a fresh cucumber facial during your massage. What a surprising bonus! Even more surprising after my massage, as I was laying right there on the table, she washed and conditioned my hair and put it up in a nice little bun. Again, what a bonus! I’ve paid so much more for so much less.
So what did my adventures at the Jjimjilbang teach me? What did I take from it? To relax, fully relax. To let your inhibitions go from time to time, especially if it’s in a safe space. I think women everywhere should find a Jjimjilbang and enjoy the day naked.