Today, daughter Elizabeth and I went to a Korean spa. This was my birthday present from Liz (back in January) and we resolved that it was time to carve out a few hours in both of our busy schedules to go and indulge ourselves with this experience. My only issue – I don’t know how Liz felt – was that the spa was basically a naked experience and this was going to add a new dimension to spending time in the group showers, sauna, mud room, and various other rooms. Now, let me clarify, I am not shy about my body, but I am not accustomed to walking around naked in front of a group of strangers. Still, this activity promised to be a wonderful bonding experience for daughter Liz and me, so I was up for pushing out of my comfort zone. My main issue was not the nakedness, I don’t think, but simply not knowing the protocol attached to the nakedness. My last experience with a bunch of semi-naked women had come without warning at Loehmann’s Department store here in Los Angeles in the group dressing room.
Loehmann’s had a huge room with mirrors on all walls and benches in front of the mirrors. There were private rooms, but what I discovered shortly after arriving in the dressing area was that those private rooms were few in number and almost never available. Hence, I joined the other couple of dozen women in various stages of undress as I tried on a series of pants and tops. I was slightly embarrassed during this process since I wasn’t prepared for an examination of my underwear by my fellow shoppers. I was wearing some of my tried-and-true cotton briefs that were at least five years old and a bra that was in sore need of a replacement. I could have elected to bail on the whole process, but I had an event to attend which required new clothes and I am not much of a shopper (hence the ancient underwear). So, I just swallowed my pride and stripped. Much to my surprise, no one seemed all that interested in me. I was happy to return the favor, but not before noting that all the women in that room – even the ones with new boob jobs and flat stomachs – had some imperfection in their bodies that weren’t that different from my own imperfections. I found comfort in that observation. We were all the same underneath our clothes with a few variations that had a lot to do with age.
Fast forward to today.
Once Liz and I had shed our clothes and put on our robes, which were required for traveling in all common areas, then I began to feel a bit more comfortable. We took showers in the group shower room and I noted that there was a naked woman receiving a scrub in the next room from an older attendant clothed in a matching bra and panties. The attendant had a body not too far from mine so I was thinking, Okay, I suppose this might be okay.
We went from the showers to a big hot tub that was just the two of us, then another mother/daughter of about our same ages came into the shower room. I noted that these two women seemed comfortable with their lovely – but less than perfect – bodies and I started thinking, It’s nice to see that my body isn’t that different from that other mother. We have the same battle scars from pregnancies and life in general. Liz and I headed for the mudroom, which wasn’t mud at all, but little round balls in individual tanks that must have been made from mud then baked. These were heated and we lay down in our own little tanks and just settled in for one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. The other mother/daughter team joined us and settled in, as well. We all chatted a bit, then relaxed in our individual tanks. It was pleasant without the least amount of embarrassment even when I tried to get up, slipped and plopped right back into the mud balls. We all had a good laugh and off Liz and I went to the next room, which was heated and filled with Himalayan salts.
By now, more women were arriving, including another mother/daughter team. Some kept their robes on in the rooms; others, including Liz and me, elected to take them off. In my case, I simply was too hot with any clothing on in these very hot rooms. The division between robed and unrobed was about half and half.
The gist: we had a great experience and I re-learned a basic truth. Women are very much the same across ages and cultures. We all are very aware of our imperfect bodies and are not always as comfortable as we could be displaying them even to a group of non-critical women. Alas, the media has for years focused only on the most perfect of bodies and our culture venerates slim women with perfect proportions. Hopefully, with the DOVE project and other awareness campaigns some of that obsession with perfection is shifting to a more realistic expectation. The truth is that if you are a woman who has had even one pregnancy, you will most likely carry some of the literal scars in the form of stretch marks from that experience. Not everyone, that’s true, but most, for certain. Plus, there are just some of us who are not designed to be bone thin. I have never been thin even at my lightest simply because my body is muscular and thin is just not achievable. Alas, it is time to embrace those truths.
Liz and I had a wonderful time. Hugh Spa was spotlessly clean, quiet, well-maintained and well-organized. I couldn’t have been more relaxed while there due in part to the calmness that infused the entire establishment.
Here is the website for Hugh Spa. http://hughspa.com/
If you live in LA, then you might want to check it out. There are Groupon deals associated with this spa, which makes it quite affordable. I believe there is one for two people for $25 and you can stay as long as you wish. I recommend this spa highly and will certainly return with Liz and/or my other daughters and friends. It is a lovely spot to spend several hours letting the stresses of life melt away.
They also have body scrubs, facials, massages and other special treatments for additional fees. Check the website for more information. They are located at 1101 South Vermont in Koreatown.
Thank you, Liz, for this lovely birthday present. I am already ready to go again!