Spa nudity: Are we just that modest, ashamed of our body, or is it something else?

Avianca and I visited Burke Williams about two weeks ago to celebrate my birthday and for much needed R&R. As we walked to our lockers, we encountered two fully exposed women changing into their clothes. Nothing odd about that…. After all, we are in the women’s spa area. We proceeded to our lockers to change our clothes by removing our outer garments, immediately placing on a robe, and then removing our bra and panties. We tightly closed our robes and walked over to the waiting area for our masseuse.

spa
Photo credit: Diva Scribe

My 50 minute Burke Williams Massage was excellent! It definitely reminded me of how important it is to make time to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. I really wished that I could have purchased the 80 minute massage, but anyway I digress… I returned to the women’s area to search for my sister after my massage. Not finding her, I decided to take a shower so I can enjoy the other amenities of the facility. I tried to find her again after showering. I noticed a younger female, that I initially thought was Avianca, near the locker area. I realized it wasn’t her, but I instantly picked up on one thing about this young woman; her apparent unease about changing in an open area.   Her swift movements to cover up as quickly as she could were awkwardly familiar, but I hurried along not fully formulating my thoughts.

Still not finding my sister, I made my way to the sauna. I thought the sauna was empty so I reveled in the idea of being alone in my thoughts and even considered removing my towel while I was in the sauna. I opened the door only to see a naked woman lying on the floor with her legs propped up on the wall. Excuse me, I thought as I scurried past her and sat at the top landing tightly pulling my towel around me.  Moments later, I noticed the same young female from the locker area outside the sauna. She had a towel wrapped around her and it appeared that she also had on either her under garments or a bathing suit. She looked as if she was trying to decide where to go next. Interestingly, I pretty much predicted what would happen in the next few minutes. The young lady decided to come into the sauna, because from her viewpoint, I was the only person in the room; however, as soon as she opened the door, she also noticed the naked woman lying on the floor. She quickly turned around and walked out.

It was after this observation in the sauna that I began to think about my past experiences and cultural differences I’ve noticed around spa nudity. I’ve been to the day spa numerous times either by myself or with friends/family for various reasons. Based on my experiences, it seems that Caucasian women tend to be more comfortable with being naked while women of color, particularly African-American women, are not. Of course, this doesn’t mean that every Caucasian woman walks around as free as the day they were born or conversely every woman of color spends their spa time covered up like a complete shrewd. Additionally, research shows that Americans generally have more conservative views around nudity; and therefore, are more modest about being so in a spa setting  when compared to other countries.  However, over the years and as I witnessed that day, I’ve noted this “modesty phenomenon” more so with minority women. The lingering question percolating in my mind, especially as we are reflecting on self appreciation and love for our bodies this week, is why is this the case?

I thought about this further as I reflected on my most recent actions in the spa prior to my massage. My sister and I didn’t leisurely take off all our clothes and then put on our robes. To avoid full disclosure, we removed our undergarments only AFTER the robe was in place. In essence, our behavior was very similar to the other African-American female which is why I could identify it so quickly. Even after the massage, I considered removing my towel once in the sauna, but changed my mind once I saw the naked woman lying on the floor. Why did I change my mind? She wasn’t paying attention to me nor was I paying any more attention to her than I needed to ensure that I didn’t trip over her while walking to where I wanted to sit.

My sister and I talked about it once I finally found her in the steam room. Why are we, as African-American women, modest about our body? Is it just a L.A. or West Coast thing? Are we ashamed? Are there underlying ramifications from historical injustices that have been passed along through generations thus making us generally more modest and uncomfortable with nudity? Did our moms tell us it wasn’t hygienic to walk around the spa or use its amenities while naked?  Are we concerned about what other women may think about us being naked (although they are naked too)? Are we so victimized by objectification and sexualization that we have internalized this to be modest about our bodies even when we are in a relatively safe space away from that level of scrutiny?

20160215_054810000_iOS
Photo Credit: Kevin “Wak” Williams

We couldn’t come up with a definitive answer as maybe it could be none of those reasons or a little bit of all of them. It was at that point I felt liberated by our conversation so I removed my towel while in the steam room. This actually wasn’t a major stand given that the only person in the room has seen me naked throughout the years anyway (lol). I will say that I was a little less conservative in my approach to changing back into my clothes. Maybe next time, I’ll forego the towel when entering the sauna or steam room regardless of who is in the room.

Advertisements

Oh How I Love Me, Let Me Count the Ways: Love your body and your body will love you back

Love-Your-Body

Your spirit, mind, and body are all connected. Do you have a routine that takes care of your whole self? Do you wake up with gratefulness, recite your favorite mantra to keep you going for the day, and end with a great workout to get your body going? No? Maybe you should. We all know that one way to take care of your body is by exercising, but there is more to body maintenance than running around the block and lifting weights. There are a plethora of ways to maintain your body– which can be as simple as lying in the grass and taking in the earth we live in.

Take time to de-stress. Stress can cause a myriad of physical problems, such as acne breakouts, weight gain, loss of appetite, and loss of hair. It can even make you sick. Here are some ways you can reduce the stress in your life:

  1. One of the best ways to de-stress is to do yoga. I know I always mention yoga, but it is a great way to accomplish every form of taking care of you. Through yoga you can spiritually connect, relax your mind and tone your body all in one.
  2. Take a moment to lay in the grass on a warm day. Try not to think of anything. Allow your body to relax every muscle. Concentrate on your breathing to help push out your thoughts. Take as much time as you need. Once you are done you will feel very relaxed.
  3. Take a walk. It will work your whole body and ease your mind.
  4. Did you know that reading is a form of exercise for your brain? Take some time to read a book from your favorite genre.

sleeping-book-student-pupil-lying

Clean up your skincare regimen. You can start by incorporating more water into your diet. The amount of water you may need will vary but experts say to drink approximately 64 oz of water a day. That’s eight 8oz glasses or a little over three 30 oz water bottles.    Substitute that fruit juice for fruit infused water. Fruit infused water not only adds flavor to the bland water taste, it also helps cleanse the body from the inside out. You will immediately notice a difference in your energy level, hair, and skin just by increasing the amount of water you drink on a daily basis, so drink up!

Fruit-Infused-Waters-from-Green-Blender

Eat well. You really are what you eat. Have you ever noticed how sluggish you get after eating a burger and fries, yet when you eat a banana you have a burst of energy. I am not going to tell you not to eat that burger, however; I will strongly suggest that you incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. It does not hurt to indulge every now and again in food that is not so good for you, but moderation is key. Diet and exercise go hand in hand. So if you are concerned about packing on the pounds, how about you walk to the hamburger stand and burn off some of those calories. Or instead of the hamburger, grab a salad and fruit for dessert.

You-Are-What-You-Eat

Sleep well. Beauty rest is a real thing. Getting some sleep is essential for proper body functions. You will feel more energized, happier and look more refreshed. I have issues with sleeping. Either I fall asleep, wake up in the middle of the night and take forever to go back to sleep or it just takes me forever to fall asleep, period. Well, I stumbled upon these awesome pills that Shea Moisture makes called, Shea Moisture Evening Sleep Supplement. Initially I purchased these pills to help with my skin. After using them for about a week or two, I realized that they actually help me sleep. I feel much more rested like I actually went to sleep and slept. The combo of herbs and daily essentials really work! Here is why: I have a bit of insomnia so the theanine as well as melatonin relaxes me before I officially call it a night. I am not getting paid to endorse this product, however; I strongly recommend them to anyone who has issues with sleeping. These pills take care of your beauty and your rest. BOOM!

Shea moisture pills

Have a spa day. Going to the spa is a total body experience. Let someone take care of your body while you get a little R&R, rest and relaxation. Spa outings are not just for the ladies. Men need to take care of their bodies too. Make it a couple’s thing. Here are some black-owned great spas that cater to both men and women in a few major cities that will help you get your body at its best:

Atlanta:

Celestial Spa
2930 Cascade Rd
Atlanta, GA 30311
404-691-2448 http://www.celestialspa.com

D’Lor Salon and Spa, Inc
Cascade Professional Park
1180 Fairburn Road. SW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30331
(404) 344-1622 http://www.dloratlanta.com

Nubiance Salon & Spa
2325 Cheshire Bridge Road Northeast #100
Atlanta, GA 30324
404-492-8046 http://www.atlantagabeautysalon.com

Los Angeles:

Le Skintique Day Spa and Beauty Salon
1620 Centinela Avenue, Suite 302
Inglewood, CA 90302
310-337-9555 http://www.leskintique.com

Nefertiti Day Spa and Hair Salon
5253 West Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90056
(310) 568-8780 http://nefertitidayspa.com

Skin Essence – 3 locations http://www.skinessence.net
2622 West Manchester Boulevard
Inglewood, CA 90305
Phone: (323) 750-8446
Fax: (323) 750-7325

940 East Dominguez Street, Suite K
Carson, CA 90746
Phone: (310) 354-7935
Fax: (310) 354-3933

4914 1/2 Slauson Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90056
Phone: (323) 296-6261
Fax: (323) 296-6253

Spa 313 Salon & Spa
313 N. LaBrea Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90302
(310) 590-1234 http://www.spa313.com

New YorK City area:

Bed of Nails
2272 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
New York, NY 10030
(212) 694-2200 http://www.bedofnailsnyc.com

 Cynergy Spa
87 Fort Greene Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: 718.403.9242
Fax: 718.403.9274 http://www.cynergyspa.com

3rd+couples+massage

Self-love is an essential part of life. It helps you to grow, love others, and teaches others how to love you. Self-love is about living in your truth and accepting who you are, flaws and all. So go ahead and love yourself. Be #flawsome and get prepared for the #glowup.

 What are ways that you love your body?