Indonesia 2016

The Weirdest Beauty Treatment I’ve Ever Seen

(Content warning: intimate examination).

Throughout my stay in Java I’ve kept a beady eye on the list of services offered by the beauty parlours I pass, because as I have written elsewhere, salon trips are one of my ways of staying sane. As I’ve done so, I’ve noticed something slightly weird listed.

It’s been called a variety of names: Ratus V, Ratus Vagina, even Vagina Spa. I once asked one of the attendants what it was, and she just tapped her lower belly and blushed — she didn’t speak great English. In that place, the treatment was marked Recommended, which made me even more curious.

I was certainly not going to get it as a way of finding out, but I wasn’t sure how to work it out otherwise.

I tend not to have any expensive or complicated treatments when I’m abroad just because I’m never sure how clean or safe the place is. But this was neither expensive nor complicated — it was just weird. I had in mind the ‘Vagina facials’ that rich women get, where they exfoliate and pluck and get rid of ingrown hairs. Vajazzling. Or maybe it’s a waxing thing? Like a Brazilian? Maybe Ratus is the Indonesian word for it?

(Ratus, it turns out, means one hundred. One hundred vaginas.)

I imagined, with trepidation, going into a spa and being drawn a diagram.

But my vagina prayers were answered when I went into a spa on my final day and saw it listed – V-Ratus – with bullets points for what to expect at the hands of the beautician. I snapped a sneaky photo by pretending to be checking the time.

I have run this through Google Translate; let me enlighten you. It’s not as bad as vajazzling.

Remove the odour and overcome itching and vaginal discharge.

The odour thing makes me angry. Vaginas are vaginas. There’s nothing wrong with the odour if you are healthy. And the latter: you need a doctor for that.

Reduce menstrual pain and help make the frequency of menstruation more regular.

For the former: couple of ibuprofen, hot water bottle, wine, chocolate. You can do that on your own. For the latter: that is not achievable by current medicine, apart from with strong meds or the Pill. I’m not sure what they plan to do.

Restore the uterus to normal size and remove the remainder of blood clots postpartum (done 1-2 months after giving birth).

This is disgusting and actually quite dangerous. What the hell do they do to your uterus to change its size?

And finally, my personal favourite:

Improve vaginal blood circulation.

That’s the kind of thing you do on your own or with someone very lucky.