Thursday, 12 January 2012

The sanctuary experience

Before the festive holidays I was feeling run down and struggled to get through the last weeks. On advice of a friend I booked myself into the Sanctuary in London, a sort of beauty spa place I was vaguely aware of but never really entertained going to.

It was an interesting experience.

Before going my imagination went wild, as it does, and I painted a picture in my mind of a sort of sacred place, as the name suggests, where women can be themselves, tune into their bodies and nurture their souls. A place where we sisters can let go of the pressures of the outside world, where we put to rest our duties of super woman, super mum, and multi juggling and holding being.

The reality was more of a well run for profit organisation selling us women the idea that 'we are worth it', as the famous add says, whilst their tills ring in delight. A lot of women seemed to be going in groups to have a 'good old girlie chat' and hang out together. I imagined something a bit more introspective and quiet.

And what really bugged me were the women's magazine all over the place selling an image of a woman that we all know really does not exist. But that image plays nasty tricks un our subconscious. Not surprising then perhaps that women in the spa did not go naked, as I imagined, but hid their bodies in bikini, for those with fitter bodies, or swim suit for those with more flesh to the bone, which in turn were tightly wrapped up in a thick bathrobe.

I left feeling a bit sad. Yes I did have a nice treatment that loosened up my stiff muscles, and I did enjoy the pools and the sauna and I managed to get through my last days of work in a much better shape but I was wondering what kind of image haunts women and how the beauty industry makes money out of women's insecurities.

Where is the wolf woman? Where is our wild side? What happened to our power of presence, with curves, bones, wrinkles, creases, dents, and stretchmarks, whatever the landscape of our body?

Will we ever banish the pin up girl?


  1. I wonder if instead of having to choose between wolf woman and the pin up we could allow ourselves to be a mixture of both? I certainly feel most happy in myself when I nurture my aspects of both, embracing the strange wildness and natural allure of my body but able to recognise the aesthetic beauty of it groomed too. I think what makes it difficult for women to turn away from society's obsession with glamour is that feminist thought has tended to take the opposite view, positioning the wild wolf woman as morally 'superior' to the self beautified of the pin up, but it's not so simple for us in real life, we want to be strong and natural but also as gorgeous as we can be.

  2. It is not so much about choosing either/or but more about beauty in difference and beauty from within. The pin-up is just a bit one-dimensional, that's all.