Americas

Let’s Get Naked, Grandma!

Image from spaweek.com

Have you ever been scrubbed down by a Korean grandma–someone else’s Korean grandma? I have, and it was delightful. Perfectly painful, yet peaceful at the same time.

Of course, the idea of a nude, women-only spa might not sound appealing to many people. But, as voiced by nudists for generations, it can be liberating.

I am not a good indicator of general opinion on nudity. I tend to stand far to the “less is more” side of the spectrum, I sleep in the buff, and I have a weekly massage session scheduled into my calendar. So, not only do I prefer to be clothing-free, but I appreciate the healing power of being touched.

Except, this scrub was the least erotic touching I’ve ever experienced. There was not even the opportunity for accidental misinterpretation. Grandma was going to make sure I got clean! It was nurturing, as described succinctly by the genius friend who so perfectly bestowed me with this gift scrub. For, truly, the bathing of someone else is a tedious, careful, selfless task. Imagine the process of bathing the newly born, the aged, or the physically limited. Why would bathing the young and able be any less admirable?

I understand that this would not be such a perfect gift for every woman. Not everyone likes being

naked, enjoys being seen naked, likes to be touched, or could handle the rough scrub as comfortably. But, I wonder: to what extent is one’s comfort being naked related to confidence in her reflection? Can a person feel confident walking in the nude, even in front of others, but not comfortable staring that nudity in the unobstructed glare of a mirror?

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Natura Spa, Women’s Side, Los Angeles, CA

A 2011 Glamour study of young women found that, on average, women have about 13 negative thoughts about their bodies each day. But, seeing these women–young, tall, slender, wrinkled, or scarred–comfortable in the sauna, steam room, and getting scrubbed, I can’t picture these women as those who have negative body image. Yet, I, too, was there, and I, too, have negative thoughts about my body. So why couldn’t they?

This is not a diatribe on the ruthlessness of social pressure or a proposal for universal nudism. This is praise for the ability to buy an inexpensive day pass to a nude, downtown Los Angeles Korean spa, a place where I don’t need to be a member of a country club to use the sauna. In any other setting, women who are comfortable in their bodies make the rest of the world more uncomfortable. We’re supposed to be unsatisfied, seek perfection, and constantly criticizing. Yet, in this context, comfort was the norm.  Yes, perhaps even pretending to be comfortable in our bodies is a step in actually being comfortable in them.

Samantha Marangell
Blogger As a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Moldova ‘07-’09) Samantha appreciates seeing a new country through the host community and, when traveling, she looks forward to learning key phrases in the respective languages. She has just moved to the Australia after a year in the Czech Republic. She will reflect on making friends abroad and figuring out whether she'll finally stay in one place.

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