The Things We Do For Beauty

For this Guilty Pleasures Friday, I was inspired by the most unusual of things.  Beauty phenomenons.  Um, have you all heard of the “Bagel Head” beauty craze of Japan?

Beware:  this video might gross you out.

Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever seen tagged as a beauty craze???

I’m beyond words to describe how that makes me feel.  I find it waaaaaaay stranger than the flesh-eating fish trend that swept so many countries just a few years ago.  Yah, remember that?

We have a lot of different ways of expressing ourselves.  Tattoos, piercings, scars, dyed hair, shaved hair, make up galore!

What beauty extremes are you willing to go to?  Tell me your craziest spa stories, the most expensive beauty product you’ve agreed to buy, your fantasy luxury that’s all about looks?

I’ll share you with you one of my most unique experiences in return!

The Jimjilbang:  AKA Korean Bathhouse

Though I did get a smidge lost on my way there, I eventually found the Dragon Hill Spa, located just off the train station depot in Seoul, South Korea.  It’s the largest bath house in Seoul, entertaining and relaxing up to 4,000 people a day on the weekends!  Check it out, it’s insanely large and gorgeous and strange all at once!

So the jimjilbang is a combination spa, sauna, salon, arcade, cafeteria, and lounge!  No joke, it has it all.  You enter, pick up your spa shorts and t-shirt and are released into this magical playland of relaxation and fun.  The jimjilbang, which translates roughly as “steam bath house”, has one large hang out room where several saunas are located, TVs, lounge chairs, a manicure station, and this is just off the cafeteria where you can recharge after sweating out your toxins.

Dragon Hill Spa
(image courtesy cptravelblog – Creative Commons)

The upstairs is the actual bathhouse, and by riding the appropriately gender labeled elevator, you’ll reach the locker room.  From there on all ages are in their birthday suits!  The bath house section has a ton of different pools, different temperatures, minerals, etc.

I was informed by a friend that if I was going to experience the jimjilbang, I had to get a scrub down by the ajummas.  An ajumma is an older korean woman.  So I found a sign in english, or mostly readable konglish, and selected what I thought was an exfoliating massage sans placenta, which was an option…

Ok, so I’m naked, hanging out with this ajumma who strips herself of her housecoat and is walking around in her bra and panties.  She puts on these rubber mitts, and uses them to exfoliate everywhere, and I mean everywhere, on my body.  It’s actually kind of gross how much dead skin these mitts get off you!  After I was de-skinned, I showered again, and came back for a massage that involved the ajumma climbing on top of me and beating and slapping my back and limbs!  After she pounded all my muscles, she’d work her magic fingers on all my knots.  With warm towels all over my body, she put some kind of green mask on my face and then shampooed my hair.

I left feeling so good!  It was a totally different experience than anything I’d ever tried, but it was great.  In fact, it was so relaxing (despite the few stares at being the only white person there – *shrug*), it’s one of the things I miss most about Korea.

And then THIS happened…

The youtube video that has swept our nation, Gangnam Style, found its way to my laptop thanks a very dear friend, and in my giddy excitement I demanded that my Korean friend, Lin, tell me what it means!

Turns out, it’s all about being super trendy!

Take it away, Lin!

Gangnam, the name of a specific district in Seoul, is considered the most trendy, chic and rich area here in Korea. So, if someone says he/she is (in) Gangnam style, that means he/she thinks that himself/herself is a sort of trendy, fashionable, or cool person. (Kinda ridiculous actually..)

In the music video, he first describes the typical behaviors of Gangnam style women, then, with some hilarious lyrics, behavior and dances that don’t look that stylish, he sarcastically declares that he is also in Gangnam style.

‘Oppa’ is originally the appellation a woman calls her elder brother, but, it’s generally used for women to call their older male friends as well. Like, Naomi sometimes called me ‘Lin Oppa’. Especially when she was drunk. 🙂

Guys also use the word to call themselves when they talk to their younger female friends, especially kinda greasily.

“Oppa (is in) Gangnam style” ==> yup, the singer is calling himself ‘oppa’ to ‘sexy Gangnam style ladies’ and telling them he is cool or sexy as well.


And Lin is completely awesome, so he also sent me the link to this video which translates the whole song.  He said it may not be a perfect translation, but it’s pretty close.  Thanks, Lin!  #YouRock

Have you had the pleasure of viewing this guilty pleasure dance video yet?  What do you think about Gangnam style?  Think it speaks to the lengths we’ll go for beauty and trends?

13 responses

  1. I guess I’m not very bizarre, but Bill went to China on a trip with the University of Dallas to China during his MBA program. The students were convinced by their guide to have massages in their room and a pair showed up to take care of Bill & his roommate. The extreme ugliness of the masseuse, her rough treatment of him and the irritating music the masseuse chose on the radio convinced Bill it was the worst experience of his life. When the masseuses finally left, Bill went in the restroom and as a final insult the toilet, bathtub and sink were left in a filthy condition from the masseuses’ post-massage toilet. My husband’s OCD tendencies went into high gear and I’m surprised he didn’t just take the next plane home, leaving everything but his passport behind. I convulse into laughter anytime the subject happens to come up, but Bill still can’t see how funny it is.

    1. Oh no! That sounds awful! I would be so grossed out too. Hope one day he sees the funny side, but I’m glad you’re there to remind him. 😉

  2. August McLaughlin | Reply

    I’ve often thought that forcing food shrinkage, as various Asian women do, is comparable to Westerners wearing pain-inducing, impossible to walk (well) in shoes.

    A friend of mine curled her eyelashes upsideside down by accident once. What a sight! 😉 My extreme was probably those hair extensions gone wrong… So glad I learned that they aren’t for me–saved me money and helped me appreciate my natural tresses.

    Great post, Jess!

    1. You mean you won’t be modeling the bagel head any time soon???

  3. Joan Rivers. I rest my case.

    Thanks for the translation of Gangnam style. I remember reading the translation of Macarena, and that was an eye-opener too.

    1. LOL. Another ridiculous dance EVERYONE learned. Do you think people will start playing Gangnam Style at their wedding receptions now?

  4. Bagelheads?! Are you kidding me? What is wrong with these people….

    1. Isn’t it the creepiest cosmetic look ever?! What person first thought of that and convinced others that it was cool???

  5. Oh man! Your description of that spa made me want to be you so bad. That exfoliation treatment sounded ridiculously great.
    I really like good treatments for my hair, so that’s where I like to splurge on beauty products.

    1. Ok, then, have you tried Wen? Is it really as amazing as that infomercial makes it sound? Inquiring minds HAVE to know!

  6. It’s my honor to be mentioned on this nice posting. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your help with the translation, Lin! You’re the best!

  7. […] Jess Witkins is a grave robber. Only it’s not what you think. […]

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