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The empowering reason Justina Blakeney takes her daughter to a Korean spa


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Photo: Instagram/@justinablakeney

“Did you just say you take your dog to the spa once a month?” I ask The Junglow founder Justina Blakeney, my mouth agape. In response, she laughs. “That would be very extra, but no,” she says. “I take my daughter to the Korean spa once a month.”

Though this makes for a less shocking headline, it also makes more sense. Still, Blakeney’s daughter Ida is only five, so I’m curious as to the thinking behind including her in this very adult-seeming ritual. When I pose the question of “why” to Blakeney, she tells me there are two main reasons she thinks her daughter will benefit from this not-so-standard experience.

This first, she explains, has to do with setting the stage for healthy habits later in Ida’s life. “With this, we have our own self-care ritual, the importance of which was critical for me to instill in her at a very young age,” she says, noting that she first began these Korean spa trips when Ida was just 18 months old. (Blakeney’s clearly catching on to something we’ve all been feeling this year—that self-care makes us better equipped to do great work and take care of others.)

Blakeney’s second reason, she tells me, has to do with the culture of Korean spas specifically. For those who’ve never been to one, the custom is to strip down and move about completely naked between the various hot and cold tubs, steam rooms, and massage tables. Visitor demographics—all female, as men enjoy a separate spa—are generally pretty mixed in terms of race and age, so it’s not unusual to see two elderly Korean-American women scrubbing each other’s backs next to a gaggle of 20-something friends who gossip as they soak.

Blakeney hopes that exposing Ida to this normalized, diverse display of nudity will help her develop a healthy relationship to the physical form. “She gets to see all different kinds of womens’ bodies naked,” she says. “I think this is important because in this day and age, we don’t see that very much. And if we do, often times it’s [portrayed] in a sexy or a scandalous kind of way.”

Blakeney therefore sees this mother-daughter spa time as an empowering antidote to these media messages. “[At the Korean Spa], we experience this bathing ritual with other women where you see how beautiful everyone is because of all of our differences,” she says. “It’s trying to instill in her that all of that [range] is beautiful—cellulite, no cellulite, curvy, thin, straight hair, curly hair, wrinkles, etc.”

As a result, Blakeney tells me, these spa trips are the healthiest thing she does with Ida. “I watch my daughter look around and look at herself and compare and contrast,” she says. “It’s just cool.” Sounds like something we could all benefit from, no?

Blakeney isn’t the only boss babe teaching her daughter body positivity. Find out how Pink’s helping her little one develop a healthy perspective, too. Plus, new mom Serena Williams has a few things to say on the matter (preach!) as well. 

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