*When my kids were younger, they would mash their words together when they spoke. Two of the casualties of those frequent oratory crashes were the words ‘did + ‘you’ = ‘dzidju’….or Jeju. I couldn’t resist putting it in my title.
Leave me alone. LOL!
At the end of May, the executives of the Ghanaian Women’s Association of Georgia (GWAG) organized a Mother’s Day event for its members and friends of the organization. It was a spa day at Jeju, an establishment named for a South Korean island and made popular after its appearance on Real Housewives of Atlanta. Jeju offers a range of spa services, including a body shampoo, foot reflexology and some other exotic services I’d never heard of. Word on the street is that Jeju really gets poppin’ at night. (Scandalous, I tell you!) Either way, $25 gets you into the door and you can order the services a la carte.
Beforehand, we were given a humorous warning via email about the real potential of running into some bodies in the nude, should we decide to go exploring the facilities. I’ll just avoid those, I thought to myself. I haven’t been around large groups of nekkid pipo since secondary school, and I was not eager to repeat the experience. A pleasant Korean girl built like a tower instructed our group to follow her for a tour of the facility. The locker rooms are segregated by gender, and for good reason. As soon as you walk in, you’re confronted by ass, vagina and titties. There’s just no other way to describe it. Other spas have a welcome sign, Jeju greets you with a basket of client booty.
And everyone was so casual about it!
You could definitely tell who the regulars to the facility were. They chatted comfortably with each other, breasts dripping wet and facing each other, their possessors maintaining the same sort of easy eye contact demonstrated over a cup of coffee at a street café. As a group of Ghanaian women well into our 30s, and in some cases closer to 50, we maintained dignified silence and bucked the instinct to cast judgmental stares. What would be the point? We’d already paid the entry fee. We outchea now! Prudes should have stayed in the house.
The Tower of Asia walked us through the facility, pointing out where we could get a full body or foot massage, a bite to eat, and the chakra rooms – quiet zones built of heated stone covered in woven mats on which to lay. The majority of the women chose to get their feet massaged since it did not require the removal of any clothing and disappeared from my view. I was in the middle of relocating to South Africa and was strapped for cash. Just beyond the locker room – the Bare Booty Realm as I call it – was where the free services were: the whirlpool, steam room and sauna, warm and cold baths. It’s also where the body shampoo service is performed. It is there where I saw a stout Korean woman scrubbing the body of a completely naked Black patron with the vigor of Tywin Lannister dressing a recently slaughtered deer.
I stowed my clothing in the locker, obeyed the rule about showering before entering the water, thanked Mother Nature for delaying my period for the day, and slid into the whirlpool with two other naked women.
It was completely uncomfortable – horrible, in fact! – for the first 10 minutes. And then after that it was no big issue at all. When it’s your first time in a spa environment such as this one, you may be tempted to fall into an old pattern of judging your body by glossy magazine standards. Isn’t that what we do to ourselves and other people in public, even with clothes ON? But then after that initial paranoia and hesitation wears off, you realize the pursuit of fear is a fruitless venture. EVERYONE is a wreck beneath their clothes. I saw misshapen nipples, cellulite, strange tattoos, overgrown and Brazilian waxed vaginal hair, saggy bottoms and breasts both floppy and perky in abundance. There was a sign that read:
THIS IS A NO CELL PHONE AREA
PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER PATRONS
BE PROUD, NOT LOUD
This was probably the safest place in Atlanta in which to be naked. I slid my body, kangaroo belly and all into the ambient waters of the warm bath and exhaled with pleasure, watching my breasts lift to the surface of the water like two brown buoys at sea. It was fantastic. Nicole, the editor I worked with on Madness & Tea, joined me in the water. Hitherto I was the only woman from our group of Ghanaian in this area. The rest had chickened out and kept their clothes on. (Shame!) Nicole and I carried on a conversation like we were two women gisting over a plate of jollof rice; like this was completely normal.
It was SUCH a liberating experience. After leaving that spa, I‘m proud to say that I’ve gotten over the majority of my fear of having a body that might be viewed as dysmorphic. No one has a perfect body. Seriously. NO ONE.
While I’m not ready to join a nudist colony, I see the attraction of letting loose where clothing is concerned. While it’s tempting to peg all of our sartorial choices as women on the pursuit of sex or the deflection of it, for some people it may just come down to comfort and pride. Is it possible that the girl in the mini skirt just really loves her legs and in wanting to show them off – as one might do a degree in their office – is wearing the skirt for that sake alone and not because she’s looking to attract the attentions of a stranger’s erection? Of course it is!
I think everyone should go to a spa like Jeju at least once in your life. There are many benefits for your body and spirit, being surrounded by that much water, but the biggest of all is the realization that no one is really checking for you anyway. Nothing illustrates that better than walking into a room with your bare bottom in full view, only to be greeted with uninterested glances or ignored completely.
Are there any spas similar to Jeju where you live? Would you recommend them to any Adventurers?