Two Fat Babes At The Naked Hot Springs

I will admit that nude hot springs are often the domain of thin white people. Kori and I are both melanin-blessed 250+ pound femmes. Image: author.

It all started with a text from my roomie, Kori: I am manifesting lying out, and getting some sun on my cooch.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, summer in San Francisco looks less like sundresses and icy glasses of lemonade, and more like taking a cruise into an oceanic abyss in late November off the coast of Maine. 

I can hear foghorns. In the daytime. In California. 

You know you’re in the presence of a tourist because they are wearing shorts and shivering, and you are giving them muffled directions through the scarf you’ve wrapped your face in to prevent frostbite. 

Cooches get no sun here. 

So I decided to take matters into my own hands. “We need a heyy-cation” I tell Kori.

We are sitting in our kitchen. Kori is stressed out about work. She sighs, while gracefully eating her favorite dish, nachos. “I don’t know, girl.” 

This is how almost all of our conversations about my ideas begin. I suggest something strange, and almost certainly irresponsible. Kori slowly contemplates.

She is the front line and first responder for every idea that pops into my head.  

“I’m not saying we need to go faaaar.” (Whenever I am trying to convince people I elongate the last syllable in the sentence.) “I just want to go somewhere where I can lounge near a pool in my bathing suit, drink Bud Light, and sweat whenever I move.”

“Bud Light?!” she implores me, with wide-eyed alarm.

I tell her about this place I’ve heard of: Orr Hot Springs. Clothing optional (read: Everyone’s totally naked). Plenty of opportunities for cooch-sunning. And it’s only two hours from our place, in a town called Ukiah.

Weather forecast: 103 degrees. YHESS. 

The next day she sends me an Instagram DM with a pic of this new pinot gris in a can they sell at Trader Joe’s. She won’t fuck with Bud Light, but this image proves: 1. she is down for K & V Summer Vacation 2016 and 2. is not above drinking some booze out of a can. 

Image: Orr Hot Springs.

The Orr website says that reservations are required, and when I call I’m greeted by Kyle, a friendly Southern man who informs me there is no availability. But he can put me on the waitlist. I hang up the phone and, right as I finish typing the sad text to inform Kori, my phone rings. It’s Kyle.

Someone just canceled. We’re in. 

This is my first time at Orr (I used to frequent another one in California, called Harbin, before it burned down), and Kori’s first time at a nude hot spring. I will admit that nude hot springs are often the domain of thin white people. Kori and I are both melanin-blessed 250+ pound femmes.

We roll up in my 1997 champagne Thunderbird playing “Edge of Seventeen” and begin our day. 

There are hot pools and a cool pool, deck chairs and lounges, a sauna and steam room, a communal kitchen, and Victorian bathtubs, where I decided to bathe in the sun while reading the Pema Chödrön ​special edition of Lion's Roar magazine. In case you don’t know Pema, she’s an American Buddhist nun. The article I’m reading is about choosing to smile in the face of fear. 

Fear feels like such an appropriate theme. 

I’m a fat woman hanging out naked in the full light of day with a bunch of strangers, and most of them are thin.

A few years ago, I never could have imagined a day like this one. Honestly, if I still had my dieting brain, a day like this never would have come. I would have found the idea of a naked space terrifying and awful, or I would have relegated my presence to a future dream for a day of thinness that would never come.

I would have opted out of this just like I opted out of so many other things. So many fat women end up self-isolating because of the intense fatphobic pressure that offers us an ultimatum: Change or disappear

I would have never been able to experience the sensation of every inch of my body covered in mineral water. I would have never been able to nap naked in the sun.

I would have missed so much.

I feel like I narrowly escaped a bullet or something. That’s how lucky I feel that I met people who taught me to stop dreaming of a thin life and live mine, right now, as loudly and shamelessly as possible. 

I can’t imagine a more shameless act than tanning my chubby vulva!

As I head from the bathtub to a smaller, warmer pool, I hear someone say my name. It’s the voice of an acquaintance. We’ve only met a few times at parties.

After a few pleasantries, she leans in and says, “Can you imagine this place full of fat people? That would be amazing.”

And I agree. “Yes, it totally would.” 

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