How the Finnish sauna-culture has impacted my body-image.

Little wheat's writings
3 min readOct 17, 2022

What is so special about the sauna tradition and why it helps with developing a healthy body image?

credits :nkaminetskyy,pixabay

Ever since i was little we have always had a sauna. It is an important part of the Finnish culture. There is over three million saunas in Finland. This made me think of how i have never had any mature problems with the relationship with my body.

Due to growing up surrounded by different sized bodies of all ages, i developed a healthy body image. There was not a constant need to fit into some unrealistic beauty standard because we saw everyone’s body as a normal and neutral thing.

There has never been any body shaming in saunas not even in the public ones. we have this non -written rule of how it is not acceptable to comment anyone's body in a sauna. Same with how saunaing has nothing to do with sex and if someone dares to bring that up others would think that it is rude and inappropriate.

Going to a sauna with some complete strangers probably feels odd from a foreigners perspective. Why would you voluntarily sit in a hot room naked with unknown people? Well you would be surprised of how many meaningful conversations often begin in a sauna when you quite literally have nothing to hide. Sauna has always had an important role in my life. For example saunaing at the Christmas eve is a must have tradition.

Side note: public saunas are often devided by gender or if genders are mixed you are often required to wear a swimsuit or a towel. This is to further ease tension beetween genders and to make it clear that there truly is nothing sexual about the whole thing.

I find the whole lighting up a heath source (often a sauna stove),washing up and then getting in to the warmth rite to be quite relaxing. It brings safety to this unknown world.

I have good memories of my parents and grandparents helping me to wash my hair and my grandma telling me stories about her childhood while we sat in the sauna. Nowadays i still go to the sauna with my family and it is also a tradition with one of my friends every time i stay overnight at her place.

I have no data to back this up, but in my personal experience if we grow up seeing different bodies, it is less likely for people to develop eating disorders. Because you gain a better understanding of what bodies usually look like and how every body is normal and beautiful in its own way.

instead if a child grows up being ashamed of themselves or in an environment that tells you to hide your body it is not that surprising if you develop an eating disorder later in life. When it is normal to be yourself around others you learn to respect your body and realize that we are all worthy of love and perfect just the way we are.

unpopular opinion: there is something beautiful about how you can see someones age on their skin. Every scar and wrinkle tells its own unique story. ❤

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