Photo courtesy of Tales of a Travel Addict.
“You are very beautiful, Jennifer teacher, but you are fat.”
I wanted to end class then and there. I wanted to run home, bury my face in my pillow and cry. But the tears wouldn’t wait. I dropped my scissors, put down the construction paper turkey and cried.
I suddenly missed America—the land where a size six was normal—a place where every retail store sold clothes and shoes to fit my body. But alas, I live in Korea, where normal is a size 0 and a 6 is, well, apparently fat.
Last weekend I finally visited a jjimjilbang, or a public bathhouse. For two months I had heard nothing but amazing things about these hot spots—how the large baths contained healing ingredients like ginseng, green tea and clay, how some of the saunas reached up to 160 degrees. One of my Korean friends even told me about a special kind of egg you could only get at one of these places.
I couldn’t wait to rip off my clothes and relax.
But it’s hard to relax when hundreds of chopstick-thin women are eyeballing your naked body—watching your thighs rub together with every step.
It was humiliating.
There was, however, a bright spot…like a moth to a flame, a heavy-set American woman swam up to me as I was cowering in the corner of the carbonic acid pool. “I hated my first jjimjilbang experience,” she said. “But now I can’t get enough. Trust me, you’ll get over the whole being naked thing and learn to love it.”
She shot me a reassuring smile and walked toward the green tea hot tub.
Her butt jiggled the whole way.