My friends and I really enjoy going to this Korean spa near where we live. When most people think “spa,” they think of a quiet, relaxing place where people give you fuzzy robes and rub energizing oils into your back, but this place is a little more like a theme park. There’s a whole floor of different saunas!
Anyway, one of the best parts of it is the mandatory nude area. Most of the spa is co-ed, so you must stay covered, but off the men’s and women’s locker rooms there are men/women only, nude only hot tubs and saunas. They’re not required, but if you’re into being naked, I highly recommend them. In general, being comfortable with your naked body is a pretty healthy thing, and there are many places–nude beaches, spas, certain parties–where you can enjoy your nude self around strangers. Here are some things you should keep in mind if you find yourself in one of these areas.
1. FOLLOW THE RULES– The last time my friends and I went to this spa, we noticed a lot of newcomers who were trying to either a) hang out in the nude mandatory areas with bathing suits on or b) sort of peering into the nude areas and gawking at all the naked people without actually getting naked. Not cool! You don’t have to get naked, but if you don’t want to, sorry, you just can’t be in the area where it’s mandatory. Similarly, you shouldn’t be naked in places where you’re required to cover up. And please, stop “just taking a stroll” down to the nude section of the beach to look at the naked people. We see you.
2. NO JUDGMENT– As much as we all try to be accepting and open of all types, it is somewhat natural to compare bodies. Left at that, I think it’s just fine–I enjoy seeing different types of nude bodies and seeing just how many ways a human can be put together. However, do not stare, and do not let your casually noticing different types turn into judgment, and for god’s sake do not comment on a stranger’s body. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable in an all-nude space. This also goes for areas, like New York City, where it’s legal for women to be topless in public parks. If a woman chooses to exercise this right, do not give her shit about it.
3. TALKING TO STRANGERS IS WEIRDER– The first time I went to a nude beach I was in college, and of course, a creepy middle-aged man struck up a conversation with me and was clearly hitting on me. The normal “do not hit on minors” advice aside, the fact that I was completely nude made this awkward. What made it even MORE awkward was that he was wearing a bathing suit. Even if he were my age, and even if he were nude, it is much, much harder to not come across as predatory if you strike up a conversation with a nude stranger. Be sure your signal reading skills are on point, and if in even the smallest bit of doubt, just don’t do it.
4. DO NOT COMMENT ON A STRANGER’S NAKED BODY – I just feel like I should repeat this. I was tempted to, once, when a nude woman I was around had really really beautiful nipple tattoos, and I wanted to compliment her. But I didn’t, and the world kept spinning.
5. REMEMBER JUST HOW DIFFERENT BODIES CAN BE – One thing I become acutely aware of whenever I’m at the spa is how easy it is to be a cisgendered person there. The nude hot tubs clearly operate under the assumption that sex=gender, and I cannot imagine it’s easy for anyone who identifies as trans* or otherwise gender nonconforming. Especially since co-ed/gender mixed nudity will not be everyone’s cup of tea either. It’s not always in our control, but remember that the goal should be to make these spaces open and allowing of everyone who wants to enjoy them. If anyone has better ideas on how to do that without starting your own gender inclusive spa, please let me know.
6. BE CLEAN – Become hyper-aware of your wiping habits after using the bathroom. Everyone will thank you.