Meghan: Being naked at LA spa as a teenager was ‘very humbling experience’

The latest episode of the Duchess of Sussex’s podcast has been released after the series was paused following the death of the Queen.

04 October 2022

The Duchess of Sussex has spoken about her teenage embarrassment at walking around naked with her mother at a Korean spa in Los Angeles.

Meghan relived the experience in the latest episode of her podcast, with her Spotify series resuming on Tuesday after a four-week break following the death of the Queen.

She said she and her mother, Doria Ragland, shared a love of getting to know other cultures and would visit the spa, where swimming costumes were not permitted, for a bowl of noodles, sitting with women up to the age of 90 who were waiting for a body scrub.

Archetypes podcast
The podcast cover for Archetypes (Archewell Audio/Spotify/PA)

It was, she said, a “very humbling experience for a girl going through puberty”.

Meghan was exploring the “Dragon Lady” stereotype with journalist Lisa Ling and comedian Margaret Cho in episode four of her Archetypes series.

She said of the Korean spa: “Now, for those of you who haven’t been to one before, it’s a very humbling experience for a girl going through puberty because you enter a room with women from ages nine to maybe 90, all walking around naked and waiting to get a body scrub on one of these tables that are all lined up in a row.

“All I wanted was a bathing suit – which you’re not allowed, by the way – and once I was over that adolescent embarrassment, my Mom and I, we would go upstairs.

“We would sit in a room and we would have a steaming bowl of the most delicious noodles.

“And we’d look around at all of these other women – these beautiful Korean women who had embraced the generational tradition of the jjimjilbang and shared it with one another. That was part of the Asian-American culture that I knew.”

Duchess of Sussex supports cookbook
The Duchess of Sussex, accompanied by the Duke of Sussex, and her mother, Doria Ragland (Ben Stansall/PA)

Korean spas, also known as jjimjilbang, focus on relaxing, spending quality time with friends and family.

Meghan said she was not aware of the stigmas faced by women of Asian descent until many years later.

She called out films such as Austin Powers and Kill Bill for presenting caricatures of women of Asian descent as over-sexualised or aggressive.

The duchess said: “The Dragon Lady, the East Asian temptress whose mysterious foreign allure is scripted as both tantalising and deadly, this has seeped into a lot of our entertainment.

“But this toxic stereotyping of women of Asian descent, it doesn’t just end once the credits roll.”

Journalist Ling told Meghan that, when she was a broadcaster at Channel One, she was named hot reporter in the Rolling Stone’s Hot List, but faced racist abuse in the aftermath.

“Someone at my place of work cut out that article, drew slanted eyes over the eyes and wrote ‘yeah, right’ and then put it back in my mailbox,” she said.

Meghan, who accused an unnamed member of the royal family of racism in her interview with Oprah Winfrey, responded: “Oh my god.”

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
The Duchess of Sussex and the Queen Consort after the Queen’s funeral (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ling added: “It was like every kernel of excitement that I possessed just withered away. It was so devastating that someone that I would see every day in my place of work, where we’re supposed to feel comfortable, just harboured those feelings about me and had the nerve to make it racial.”

Korean-American comic Cho spoke about enjoying life to the full, saying: “You have to really enjoy the time you have because it’s… it’s not very long, you know, it goes by very fast.”

Meghan replied: “Yeah… it’s so true.”

The pair also exchanged plaudits, with Meghan telling Cho she loved her new film, Fire Island.

Cho told the duchess: “We actually talked a lot about you on set. We were just admiring you, just so much.”

Meghan replied: “Oh, really? … I really appreciate that.”

She added: “Honestly, I’m thrilled. When I came downstairs, I was ‘I’m talking to Margaret Cho this morning’.”

She urged her podcast listeners to be their “best and true self”.

“Just be yourself no matter what any societal framework or archetype or loud voice coming from a small place tells you that you should be,” she said.

“Be yourself – your full complete, whole layered, sometimes weird, sometimes awesome, but always best and true self. Just be you. You’re so much greater than any archetype.”

New photographs of Meghan and the Duke of Sussex were revealed by the duchess’s celebrity photographer friend, Misan Harriman.

The images show the couple at the One Young World event in Manchester on September 6, just two days before the death of the Queen.

In a colour shot, Meghan is shown looking poised in a sleek red trouser suit as she stands face on, looking at the camera, while Harry, in a suit and tie, stands at an angle, smiling and gently holding his wife’s hand.

The second image, in black and white, was taken moments before they took to the stage, and shows the couple side-on, looking composed as they stand next to one another holding hands.

The images were posted on Harriman’s social media accounts just two days after Buckingham Palace released a family portrait of Harry’s father King Charles, brother the Prince of Wales, the Queen Consort and the Princess of Wales.

The picture of the four key figures at the heart of the monarchy was taken before a Palace reception for world leaders during the mourning period for the Queen.

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