I'm pretty sure I haven't been naked in a room full of people since I was a baby and didn't know the concept of nudity.
I was super nervous to visit SpaLand in Busan with my friend Gabby, but going to a jjimjilbang is a necessary Korean experience so I knew I had to go before I leave.
I haven't looked into going to a jjimjilbang in Jinju because I know my students go with their friends or moms on the weekends and having a student see me naked is NOT an experience I would like to have. I've done plenty of embarrassing things in my life, but I don't think I would be able to recover from that.
SpaLand is a bit pricier than the average jjimjilbang and has a 4 hour time limit, but it's the "famous" one and a good journey from Jinju, so I knew my chances of running into a student were low.
|if you need help with body acceptance, this book is a good place to start|
I'm sure some people were looking at me because I'm a blonde-ish, big chested foreigner with a couple tattoos, but I didn't notice. SpaLand is used to foreigners visiting so I wasn't an anomaly. People just casually look at each other and it didn't feel weird!
I saw big titties, small titties, old lady saggy titties, stretch marks, scars, skin discoloration, huge bushes, no bushes, tramp stamps (on a Korean woman!), and everything in between.
Korean women are usually always very put together - perfect hair and makeup and clothes. My girl students have complained to me that they don't want to date a Korean guy because they expect all girls to look and act the same way, and if you don't act the "proper" way they will just dump you and find a girl that does (the patriarchy is a curse everywhere). Being in a bathhouse surrounded by naked women made me realize (again) that it really is the male gaze that ruins our freedom, makes us self-conscious and ashamed.
(Necessary disclaimer: this is not MEN'S fault but the patriarchy, a very important distinction that guys like to ignore so they can get self-righteous and ignore what women have to say. It's dumb that I even feel the need to do a disclaimer because only 10 people read this blog and I bet you they're all women. That is all. Carry on.)
I know I can't change the past, but I can't believe it took me almost a full 12 months to go to a jjimjilbang! I wish I had gone sooner and way more often.
If you're ever in Korea, definitely go to one, especially if you're nervous about the nudity. You will feel like an animal at a watering hole, but in the best way possible.