For those who may not know, I am American by birth and by passport, but not so much by attitudes and conditioning. Our early teenage years are extremely important for teaching us social mores and attitudes and I spent many of those living in girls dorms in boarding schools in Europe. So while many American women of my acquaintance are a little (or a lot) weirded out at the idea of hot tubbing and bathing with a slew of other naked women who are complete strangers, I don’t have a problem with it.
Not with the naked. The problem I have is with the judgement.
Our culture doesn’t really embrace naked. I have been in the locker rooms at the gym and watched women, particularly young women, do some very complicated contortions to avoid exposing their bodies. When I was in one particular boarding school there was a lot of casual nudity in bedrooms that became an issue. Not because we cared, the expat student population, but because the mainstream American college students employed as supervisory staff would stare and get very uncomfortable. Which was just weird to us.
How did we manage to make the natural body something to be all uncomfortable about? Well, the answer to that is huge and long and probably a life’s work to study and explain. One of the many pieces of that is the judgement that we put on others. You aren’t good enough. You’re too fat, thin, tall, hairy. There’s always something about our body that our culture and media encourages us to be uncomfortable about.
So imagine my utter delight when I experienced none of that at the spa. I won’t say that I didn’t get looks. Looks don’t really bother me. I know I look unusual, it’s distracting. That’s ok. But the looks didn’t resolve into judging, and then finding me lacking in oh so many ways. They looked, they recognized some differences, they went back to their own business. That was so refreshing!
It probably had something to do with the fact that the primary clientele wasn’t American either.
What ever the reason, it was a completely wonderful experience, physically and emotionally. I have very definite plans to go again with my friends and to bring a few others along with me.