"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, January 05, 2013

like really naked.

Now Playing: Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran (all I know since yesterday is everything has changed)

I have no problem with nudity.

That's what I used to think, anyway. I don't understand this obsession with making nudity a taboo - I came across an old parenting book from the 80s in which the doctor recommended to not clean a baby's genitalia because it 'seemed immoral' - isn't it just sad that we live in a world where good hygiene is immoral and diaper rash is a sign of proper prudishness? Even though I was insecure about pretty much everything else about me this year, my physical body and appearance wasn't as big of a deal as it used to be when I was younger, and I have no qualms about admitting to birthday suiting around the house occasionally - seriously, everyone should do it. And I've seen people naked on TV, in change rooms, bra-and-undies naked before gym...and I'm really rather indifferent to it. I don't know whether it's because I'm not retarded and don't link nudity to sex or because I don't spaz out over sex. Maybe I'm just, you know...mature. I mean, I'm butt naked under the clothes I'm wearing. We all are. Like, really naked.

So that's normal, rational, birthday-suiting me. Faced with the unspeakable horror of the Korean wet sauna...I don't know if I can really say that truthfully.

Wet saunas are scary. There are hot tubs the size of swimming pools, about five hundred shower stalls with no doors, and millions of naked people. Like, really naked.

Before you go all teenage hormonal on me, it's really not as sexy as it sounds. I don't know how I can stress this enough. The women's wet sauna is not a porn-style steamy orgy - it's a menagerie of old women, wrinkly women, pregnant women, fat women, skinny women, scarred women, screaming babies, awkward adolescents, tantrum-throwing children...the occasional little boy who is very confused as to why nobody else has a penis and is absolutely fascinated by boobs...all completely naked. Like, really naked.

I went to the wet sauna once when I was younger and I remember it being a little weird, but it didn't freak me out as much as it does now, which is strange because I'm pretty sure 'sex positivity' wasn't part of my eight-year-old self's vocabulary. Now, I hate it. I wouldn't go if I didn't have to, but unfortunately the locker room for the gym that I went to in Suncheon was adjacent to the wet sauna, so there was a lot of naked people wandering around. Like, really naked.

I don't really know why it bothers me, to be honest. I don't have any problem with nudity. I don't see anything particularly gross or immoral or even sexual about nudity in the context of a wet sauna - really, I couldn't think of anything less sexy, and I definitely don't feel sexy in there. I don't care that none of the women there have supermodel figures, because I still believe that everyone is beautiful in their own way and the physical signs of the changes a woman's body goes through in different stages of her life is beautiful - and anyway, people with nice figures don't make the situation any less uncomfortable. Maybe it's culture shock, because in Australia there are naked people in change rooms and they don't bother me, because they're usually at least partially covered with a towel and make a point of putting some pants on fairly quickly, whereas here I have actually seen women talk on the phone, check facebook, play with their kids, do their hair, apply makeup, chat with their friends, eat ice cream...and then put clothes on. Maybe it's because I'm angry that Korea is such a sex-negative, patriarchic, conservative society and so you'd think that in return for holding my tongue I'd not have to have the woman who's obviously just had a boob job pointedly brush past everyone topless. Maybe it's because I know that Korean society is so image obsessed and body conscious that I hate stripping in front of random strangers who immediately start staring at my collection of scars. Or maybe it's because I'd just rather not have to put my stuff on benches that people sit on, totally naked. Like, really naked. Or maybe it's just because I'm so sick of funny looks and it really does feel unfair to get funny looks because I'm actually wearing clothes. Or maybe it's because I know that, outside of the wet sauna, these people's attitudes towards sexuality and nudity will totally change, and so the wet sauna is a little hypocritical bubble isolated from the suppression of sexuality and nudity that constantly suffocates me.

Or maybe I've just had way too much time on my hands overthinking this as I stared pointedly out the window and tried to ignore the loud, boisterous crowd of naked people around me. Like, really naked.

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